Have we nothing then to do? No, nothing …

John Wesley was converted as somebody was reading to him Martin Luther’s commentary on the Galatians. There’s a sentence where Luther says,

“Have we nothing then to do? No, nothing … but be found in him who of God has made unto us our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption,”

When John Wesley heard those words, it dawned on him, and he was converted. (Note: this wasn’t his beginning of “Christian” things.) He had been a Christian minister without being a Christian for a number of years. He had gone to the colony of Georgia, in the New World, in order to work with the slaves and to work with the prisoners to minister to them. He now realized he had been doing it all out of a sensation that, “I have to become worthy. It’s too easy to say you just receive.” Yet that night, when he heard Martin Luther’s commentary read, “Have we nothing do? No, nothing but accept of him who has made unto you wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” in that moment, he was converted.

(Paraphrasing here; continued below.)

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This story shared at the benediction on the First Sunday of Advent.

One section in Luther’s commentary continues like this:

We have two propositions: To live unto the Law, is to die unto God. To die unto the Law, is to live unto God. These two propositions go against reason. No law-worker can ever understand them. But see to it that you understand them. The Law can never justify and save a sinner. The Law can only accuse, terrify, and kill him. Therefore to live unto the Law is to die unto God. Vice versa, to die unto the Law is to live unto God. If you want to live unto God, bury the Law, and find life through faith in Christ Jesus.

We have enough arguments right here to conclude that justification is by faith alone. How can the Law effect our justification, when Paul so plainly states that we must be dead to the Law if we want to live unto God? If we are dead to the Law and the Law is dead to us, how can it possibly contribute anything to our justification? There is nothing left for us but to be justified by faith alone.

This nineteenth verse is loaded with consolation. It fortifies a person against every danger. It allows you to argue like this:

  "I confess I have sinned."
  "Then God will punish you."
  "No, He will not do that."
  "Why not? Does not the Law say so?"
  "I have nothing to do with the Law."
  "How so?"
  "I have another law, the law of liberty."
  "What do you mean—'liberty'?"
  "The liberty of Christ, for Christ has made me free from the Law that
  held me down. That Law is now in prison itself, held captive by grace
  and liberty."

By faith in Christ a person may gain such sure and sound comfort, that he need not fear the devil, sin, death, or any evil. “Sir Devil,” he may say, “I am not afraid of you. I have a Friend whose name is Jesus Christ, in whom I believe. He has abolished the Law, condemned sin, vanquished death, and destroyed hell for me. He is bigger than you, Satan. He has licked you, and holds you down. You cannot hurt me.” This is the faith that overcomes the devil.

Advent

Included with message Whatever Comes: He is the Gift of God
First Sunday of Advent
Scriptures: Isaiah 9:1-7
Preacher: Jeff Patterson
Date: 11/27/16


Audio for this teaching may be played above, and is included in the RENEW Church podcastsubscribe in iTunes here, or access the church podcast feed directly here.

This year we each of us are invited on an adventure to look up and love God first. What will be your plan to develop a new rhythm of seeking God each day? » Find some help here.

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