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Daily Luther: Preaching Must Address Both Faith and Works

May 16th, 2012
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“Wherever faith is not preached and is not given primary importance, wherever we do not begin by learning how we are united With Christ and become branches in Him, all the world concentrates only on its works. On the other hand, wherever faith alone is taught, this leads to false Christians, who boast of their faith, are baptized, and are counted among the Christians but give no evidence of fruit and strength. This makes it difficult to preach to people. No matter how one preaches, things go wrong; the people always hedge. If one does not preach on faith, nothing but hypocritical works result. But if one confines one’s preaching to faith, no works ensue. In brief, the outcome is either works Without faith or faith Without works. Therefore the sermon must address itself to those who accept and apprehend both faith and works; the others, who do not want to follow, remain behind. Just as the devil, who is the god and lord of the world, Will never become pious, so it Will never be possible to make the whole world pious. And no matter how much one says to the World, it grows defiant and does all the more in opposition. It takes this as a provocation to be even worse. Because these people refuse to hear and to believe, we let them go their way until they find and experience the truth, not only in eternity but also here in this temporal life.” (LW 24:249)

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  1. May 16th, 2012 at 08:11 | #1

    Pastor McCain,

    “On the other hand, wherever faith alone is taught, this leads to false Christians, who boast of their faith, are baptized, and are counted among the Christians but give no evidence of fruit and strength.”

    !!!!

    Did Luther just say that – that “faith alone” leads to false Christians?

    Seriously, I know what he means – both faith and works must be taught. “Faith alone” here does not mean Sola Fide in the Reformation sense. Still, even today, saying what he said sounds radical to many.

    We need balance it seems (I also know that some say preaching law and gospel, for example, has nothing to do with balance, but again, we need to be very specific about what we mean).

    I also came across a real lack of balance (I think) in a book recommended by a couple prominent LC-MS theologians and wrote about it. I think you might find this interesting as well:

    http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/a-husband-and-father-like-no-other/

    +Nathan

    +Nathan

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