Monday, June 21, 2010

Luther on the gospel and those who seek their own sacrifice...

Martin Luther relates the gospel as he prepares to point out ways that the “silent mass” of those days departed from that gospel. …

First, I want to remind each one of the ground on which our faith and all our preaching rests. I shall repeat it briefly. But I preach now only to those who accept the gospel as the Word of God and nothing else, for those who still do not know that or are in doubt about it will not accept this ground of our faith. Well, you have heard in the gospel and learned from it that the problem of our salvation from sin, death, the devil and an evil conscience, the problem of attaining true righteousness before God and eternal life, is by no means solved or helped with works or laws, no matter what they may be or may be called. For God will accept no other mediation and no other mediator than his only Son, whom the Father sent into the world and whom he caused to shed his blood for the sole purpose that he might thereby obtain for us the treasure of faith.

That, briefly, is the sum total of the gospel that we preach. And if anyone seeks another way to be freed from his sins and stand before God, he blasphemes and insults God and accuses him of lying, as if he had let his Son shed his blood in vain and his death had accomplished nothing and was of no importance. For this is what God insists on and nothing else, that on one shall stand before him except by that innocent blood alone. And if anyone undertakes some other method, such as his works or order or station in life, he shall belong to the devil much more than anyone else. For it is a very serious matter with God and he will have no jest made of it, because for this purpose he gave his Son to die. For that reason we know and have no other sacrifice that that which he made on the cross, on which he died once for all as the Epistle to the Hebrews (9:12, 20) says, and thereby put away the sins of all men and also made us holy for eternity.

That, I say, is our gospel, that Christ has made us righteous and holy through that sacrifice and has redeemed us from sin, death and the devil and has brought us into his heavenly kingdom. We have to grasp this and hold it fast through faith alone. We have preached this and reiterated it so often that everyone can know it well and can conclude from it that all our own works undertaken to expiate sin and escape from death are necessarily blasphemous. They deny God and insult the sacrifice that Christ has made and disgrace his blood, because they try thereby to do what only Christ’s blood can do.

–Luther, April 1525 as found in “The Abomination of the Secret (or Silent) Mass”