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Daily Luther: Where God Does His Work for You and in You

May 24th, 2012
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If God were to bid you pick up a straw or strip a feather, and with it command, order, and promise that through this act you should have forgiveness of all your sins, grace, and everlasting life, should you not accept that with great pleasure and gratitude, love it, praise it, and esteem that straw or feather a higher and holier possession than heaven and earth? For however insignificant the straw or feather is, by it you get so precious a gift as neither heaven nor earth, nor all the angels, can give you. Why are we such shameful folk that we do not esteem the water of Baptism, the bread and wine which is Christ’s body and blood, the spoken Word, and the laying on of hands for the forgiveness of sins to be as precious and sacred a thing as we would hold such a straw or feather to be? For in these things, as we see and hear, God Himself wills to work, and they are to be His water, Word, hand, bread and wine, whereby it is His will to sanctify and save us in Christ, who has obtained this salvation for us and sent His Holy Spirit from the Father to apply this to us. On the other hand, even though you were to go on a pilgrimage in heavy armor to the shrine of St. James, or let yourself be killed by the severe life of the Carthusians, Franciscans, or Dominicans in order to be saved, and God had not commanded or instituted this, what good would it do you? He doesn’t know of these things, but the devil and you have devised them, like the special sacraments and the orders of priests. Even though you were able to carry heaven and earth on your shoulders in order to be saved, it would be labor lost, while he who picked up the straw (if God commanded it) would do more than you, even if you could carry ten worlds.” (St. L. XV1:2296.)

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  1. Daniel Witte
    May 24th, 2012 at 08:31 | #1

    Thanks again for this series, Paul.

    This one is from “On the Councils and the Church,” by the way, and the quote can also be found at AE 41:172.

    Also, some of your readers probably know, but in case others don’t, many of the Weimar and St. Louis Editions are available here:

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