Martin Luther.

The precious and sacred writings of Martin Luther ... based on the Kaiser chronological edition, with references to the Erlangen and Walch editions; (Volume 8) online

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LIBRARY OF
WELLES LEY COLLEGE




PURCHASED FROM
LIBRARY FUNDS



LUTHER'S



FISTLE SERMONS



EPIPHANY, EASTER AND PENTECOST



TRANSLATED WITH THE HELP OF OTHERS
BY

PROF. JOHN NICHOI.AS I.ENKER, D. D,

AUTHOR OF "LUTHERANS IN ALL LANDS," TRANSLATOR OF

LUTHER'S WORKS INTO ENGLISH AND PRESIDENT OF

THE NATIONAL LUTHERAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION



VOL. IL
(Volume VIII of Luther's Complete Works.)
Third Thousand



MINNEAPOLIS, MINN., U. S. A.



330

S55919

To All, Pastors and Laymen, who ap-
preciate the true place of Luther's Writ-
ings in the Evangelization of Europe, and
are interested in the Evangelization of
the world, this volume of Easter and Pen-
tecost Epistle Sermons of the English
Luther is gratefully and prayerfully ded-
icated.



Copyright, 1909, by J. N. LENKER.



^foveworb



The Evangelization of the World is being accomplished more
rapidly than we think. Three mighty movements are constantly at
work — Reformation, Heathen Missions and Emigration or Colon-
ization. By the Reformation Europe was evangelized; by Heathen
Missions Asia and Africa are being evangelized and by Emigration
or Colonization North and South America and Australia have been
to a large extent evangelized. In "Lutherans In All Lands," pub-
lished in 1893, and in the introduction to the volume on St. Peter's
Epistles of the English Luther, we emphasized the relation of the
Evangelical-Lutheran church and of Luther's writings to the
evangelization of the world through these three movements. In
view of the recent marvelous growth in interest in Heathen Mis-
sions and the false ideas about Luther's relation to this theme, the
following may be in place here in this volum.e of Easter and Pente-
cost sermons:

The Christian religion being preeminently missionary the Refor-
mation of the Christian Church would necessarily be missionary.
Protestant missions began with Protestantism.

Herzog's Encyclopedia says: "Luther himself already seizes
every opportunity offered by a text of the Divine Word in order
to remind believers of the distress of the Heathen and Turks and
earnestly urges them to pray in their behalf, and to send out mis-
sionaries to them. In accord with him all the prominent theolo-
gians and preachers of his day, and of the succeeding period in-
culcated the missionary duty of the Church. Many also of the
Evangelical princes cherished the work with Christian love and
zeal."

Luther's interest in the work of true evangelization is seen in
the name he designedly chose for the church of his followers. He
did not call it Protestant nor Lutheran, but conscientiously insisted
upon it being called the Evangelical, or in plain Anglo-Saxon, the
Gospel church, the Evangelizing church. Because of Luther's
emphasis on the word evangelical there are properly speaking no
Lutheran, but only Evangelical-Lutheran churches. He is the
evangelist of Protestantism in the true sense.

Of the library of 110 volumes of which Luther is the author, 85
of them treat of the Bible and expound its pure evangelical teach-
ings in commentaries, sermons and catechetical writings. He
popularized the word evangelical. With his tongue and pen he
labored incessantly for the evangelization of Europe. That Europe
is evangelized is due more to his labors and writings than to those
of any other. What those writings did for Europe they may do,
and we believe, will do, for the world in a greater or less degree.

3



The greatest evangelist of Europe has a God-given place in the
evangelization of the world. His most evalgelical classics should
be translated into all the dialects of earth as soon as the Bible is
given to the people in their native tongue.

Dr. Warneck says: "By the Reformation the christianizing ot a
large part of Europe was first completed, and so far it may be said
to have carried on a mission work at home on an extensive scale."
Further he says: "The Reformation certainly did a great indirect
service to the cause of missions to the heathen, as it not only re-
stored the true substance of missionary preaching by its earnest
proclamation of the Gospel, but also brought back the whole work
of missions on Apostolic lines. Luther rightly combats, as Plitt
insists, 'the secularizing of missionary work.' "

In explaining the 117th Psalm Luther says: "If all the heathen
shall praise God, he must first be their God. Shall he be their God?
Then they must know him and believe in him, and put away all
idolatry, since God can not be praised with idolatrous lips or with
unbelieving hearts. Shall they believe. Then they must first hear
his Word and by it receive the Holy Spirit, who cleanses and en-
lightens their heart through faith. Are they to hear his Word?
Then preachers must be sent who shall declare to them the Word
of God." So in his familiar hymn, "Es wolle Gott uns gnaedig
sein."

"And Jesus Christ, His saving strength
To Gentiles to make knov/n.
That thee, O God, may thank and praise
The Gentiles everywhere."
In commenting on the words of the Second Psalm, "Ask of me
and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance," Luther says :
"Christ, therefore, being upon earth and appointed king , upon
Mount Zion, receives the Gentiles who were then promised unto
him. The words "of me" are not spoken without a particular mean-
ing. They are to show that this kingdom and this inheritance of
the Gentiles are conferred on Christ, not by men, nor in any hu-
man way, but by God, that is, spiritually."

All who retain the good old custom of the fathers in reading
Luther's Postil sermons on the Gospel and Epistle texts for each
Sunday know what deep missionary thoughts are found in the
sermons for Epiphany, Ascension Day and Pentecost.

In one sermon for Ascension Day on "Go ye into all the world
and preach the Gospel to the whole creation," we read, "these words
of the Sovereign Ruler commission these poor beggars to go forth
and proclaim this new message, not in one city or country only,
but in all the world."

For the history of the writing of these sermons the reader is
referred to volumes 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the Gospel sermons of
Luther's works in English.

The German text will be readily found in the 12th volume of
the Walch and of the St. Louis Walch editions, and in the 8th vol-
ume of the Erlangen edition of Luther's works.

Due acknowledgment is hereby made of aid received from the
translation of Pastor Ambrose Henkel, and published in 1869, at
New Market, Virginia. Also to Pastor C. B. Gohdes, for compar-
ing the manuscript from the Third Sunday before Lent with the
German text and making valuable improvements.

J. N. LENKER.
Home for Young Women,

Minneapolis, Minn., March 22, 1909.

4



Contents



Page.

First Sunday After Epiphany. — The Fruits of Faith.
Our Spiritual Service. Romans 12, 1-6 7

Second Sunday After Epiphany. — The Gifts and Works
of Christ's Members. Our Christian Duty. Romans
12, 6-16 20

Third Sunday After Epiphany. — Christian Revenge.
Romans 12, 16-21 51

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany. — Christian Love and
the Command to Love. Romans 13, 8-10 56

Fifth Sunday After Epiphany. — The Glorious Adorn-
ment of Christians. Colossians 3, 12-17 76

Third Sunday Before Lent. — The Christian Race for the
Prize. 1 Corinthians 9, 24-10, 5 93

Second Sunday Before Lent. — Paul's Glory in His
Labor and Sufferings. 2 Corinthians 11, 19-12, 9 104

Sunday Before Lent. — Paul's Praise of Christian Love.
1 Corinthians 13 119

First Sunday in Lent. — An Entreaty to Live as Christ-
ians. 2 Corinthians 6, 1-10 133

Second Sunday in Lent. — Exhortation to Holiness.
1 Thessalonians 4, 1-7 145

Third Sunday in Lent. — Exhortation to be Imitators of
God. Ephesians 5, 1-9 150

Fourth Sunday in Lent. — The Children of Promise.
Galatians 4, 21-31 162

Fifth Sunday in Lent. — Christ Our Great High Priest.
Hebrews 9, 11-15 163'

Palm Sunday. — Christ an Example of Love. Christ's
Humiliation and Exaltation. Philippians 2, 5-11. . . . 169



SUMMER PART OF THE EPISTLE POSTIL.

Easter Sunday — Purging Out the Old Leaven and the
New Easter Festival of Christians. 1 Corinthians
5, 6-8 181

Easter Monday. — Peter's Sermon on the Blessings of
Christ's Resurrection. Acts 10, 34-43 194

Easter Tuesday. — Paul's Sermon on the Power and
Blessings of Christ's Resurrection. Acts 13, 26-33, . 202

Second Sermon. — The Divine V/ord and the Resurrec-
tion. Acts 13, 26-33 204

Easter Wednesday. — ^The Fruit That Follows Belief in
the Resurrection. Colossians 3, 1-7 217

Sunday After Easter. — The Victory of Faith and the
Witness of the Holy Spirit Through Baptism. 1 John
5, 4-12 231

Second Sunday After Easter.— -An Exhortation to Pa-
tience by Christ's Example in Suffering. 1 Peter 2,
21-25 248

Third Sunday After Easter. — Our Christian Duties. An
Exhortation to the New Christtian Life. 1 Peter 2,
11-20 i 272

Second Sermon. — The Resurrection of the Dead.
1 Corinthians 15, 20-28 285

Fourth Sunday After Easter. — The Resurrection of the
Dead. 1 Corinthians 15, 35-50 287

Second Sermon. — Our Gifts and Duties. James 1, 16-21 289

Fifth Sunday After Easter, — The Change of Our Mortal
Body and the Destruction of Death. 1 Corinthians
15, 51-57 301

Ascension Day. — The History of Christ's Ascension.
Acts 1, 1-12 301

Sunday After Easter. — Soberness in Prayer and Fer-
vency in Love, and the Proper Functions of Church
Officers. 1 Peter 4, 8-11 303

Pentecost.— The History of Pentecost. Acts 2, 1-13. . . 329

^P^nteco^t Monday. — Peter's Sermon on Joel's Prophecy
on the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2, 14-28. 336

Pentecost Tuesday. — The Resurrection and Glorifica-
Hon of Christ Through the Sending of the Holy
Spirit. Acts 2, 29-36 336



fixQt Sunba^ Hfter lEpfpban^

Text: Romans 12, 1-6.

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, ac-
ceptable to God, which is your spiritual service, 2 And
be not fashioned according to this warld: but be ye
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may
prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will
of God. 3 For I say, through the grace that was given
me, to every man that is among you, not to think of
himself more highly than he ought to think; but so to
think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt
to each man a measure of faith. 4 For even as we have
many members in one body, and all the members have
not the same office: 5 so we, who are many, are one
body in Christ, and severally members one of another.
And having gifts differing according to the grace that
was given to us.

THE FRUITS OF FAITH.

1. In the preceding sermons I have treated sufficiently of
faith and love ; and of crosses and afflictions, the promoters
of hope. Faith, love and affliction bound the Christian's Ufe.
It is unnecessary that I should further discourse on these
topics. As they— or anything pertaining to the life of the
Christian— present themselves, reference may be had to
those former postils. It is my purpose now briefly to make
plain that the sum of all divine doctrine is simply Jesus
Christ, as we have ofte*i heard.

2. This epistle lesson treats not of faith, but of the fruity

7



8 LUTHER'S EPISTLE SERMONS.

of faith — love, unity, patience, self-denial, etc. Among these
fruits, the apostle considers first the discipline of the body —
the mortification of evil lusts. He handles the subject here
in a manner wholly unlike his method in other epistles. In
Galatians he speaks of crucifying the flesh with its lusts ; in
Hebrews and Colossians, of putting off the old man and
mortifying the members on earth. Here he mentions pre-
senting the body as a sacrifice ; he dignifies it by the loftie?
and most sacred terms. Why does he so?

First, by making the terms glorious, he would the mc .
emphatically urge us to yield this fruit of faith. The whok
world regards the priest's office — his service and his dignity
— as representing the acme of nobility and exaltation; and
so it truly does. Now, if one would be a priest and exalted
before God, let him set about this work of offering up his
body to God ; in other words, let him be humble, let him be
nothing in the eyes of the world.

3. I will let every man decide for himself the difference
between the outward priesthood of dazzling character and
the internal, spiritual priesthood. The first is confined to a
very few individuals; the second, Christians commonly
share. One was ordained of men, independently of the Word
of God; the other was established through the Word,
irrespective of human devices. In that, the skin is be-
smeared with material oil; in this, the heart is internally
anointed with the Holy Spirit. That applauds and extols
its works; this proclaims and magnifies the grace of God,
and his glory. That does not offer up the body with its
lusts, but rather fosters the evil desires of the flesh; this
sacrifices the body and mortifies its lusts. The former per-
mits the offering up to itself of gold and property, of honor,
of idleness and pleasure, and of all manner of lust on earth ;
the latter foregoes these things and accepts only the reverse
of homage. That again sacrifices Christ in its awful perver-
sions; this, satisfied with the atonement once made by
Christ, offers up itself with him and in him, by making
similar sacrifices. In fact, the two priesthoods accord about
as well as Christ and Barabbas, as light and darkness, as



FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY. 9

God and the world. As little as smearing and shaving were
factors in Christ's priesthood, so little will they thus procure
for anyone the Christian priesthood. Yet Christ, with all
his Christians, is priest. "Thou art a priest for ever after
the order of Melchizedek." Ps 110, 4. The Christian priest-
hood will not admit of appointment. The priest is not made.
He must be born a priest ; must inherit his ofHce. I refer to
^ new birth — the birth of water and the Spirit. Thus all
'istians become priests, children of God and co-heirs with
..iist the Most High Priest.
r4. Men universally consider the title of priest glorious
and honorable ; it is acceptable to everyone. But the duties
and the sacrifice of the office are rarely accepted. Men seem
to be averse to these latter. The Christian priesthood costs
life, property, honor, friends and all worldly things. It cost
Christ the. same on the holy cross. No man readily chooses
death instead of life, and accepts pain instead of pleasure,
loss instead of gain, shame rather than honor, enemies rather
than friends, according to the example Christ set for us on
the cross. And further, all this is to be endured, not for
profit to one's self, but for the benefit of his neighbor and
for the honor and glory of God. For so Christ offered up
his body. This priesthood is a glorious one.

5. As I have frequently stated, the suffering and work of
Christ is to be viewed in two lights: First, as grace be-
stowed on us, as a blessing conferred, requiring the exercise
of faith on our part and our acceptance of the salvation of-
fered. Second, we are to regard it an example for us to
follow; we are to offer up ourselves for our neighbors' ben-
efit and for the honor of God. This offering is the exercise
of our love — distributing our works for the benefit of our
neighbors. He who so does is a Christian. He becomes one
with Christ, and the offering of his body is identical with
the offering of Christ's body. This is what Peter calls of-
fering sacrifices acceptable to God by Christ. He describes
priesthood and offering in these words: "Ye also, as living
stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priest-
hood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God



10 LUTHER'S EPISTLE SERMONS.

through Jesus Christ." 1 Pet 2, 5.

6. Peter says "spiritual sacrifices,'* but Paul says our
bodies are to be offered up. While it is true that the body
is not spirit, the offering of it is called a spiritual sacrifice
because it is freely sacrificed through the Spirit, the Chris-
tian being uninfluenced by the constraints of the Law or the
fear of hell. Such motives, however, sway the ecclesiasts,
who have heaped tortures upon themselves by undergoing
fasts, uncomfortable clothing, vigils, hard beds and other
vain and difficult performances, and yet failed to attain to
this spiritual sacrifice. Rather, they have wandered the
farther from it because of their neglect to mortify their old
Adam-like nature. They have but increased in presumption
and wickedness, thinking by their works and merits to raise
themselves in God's estimation. Their penances were not
intended for the mortification of their bodies, but as works
meriting for them superior seats in heaven. Properly, then,
their efforts may be regarded a carnal sacrifice of their bod-
ies, unacceptable to God and most acceptable to the deviL

7. But spiritual sacrifices, Peter tells us, are acceptable
to God; and Paul teaches the same (Rom 8, 13); "If by
the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall
live." Paul speaks of mortifying through the Spirit; Peter,
of a spiritual sacrifice. The offering must first be slain.
Paul's thought is : "If ye mortify the deeds of the body in
your individual, chosen ways, unprompted by the Spirit or
your own heart, simply through fear of punishment, that
mortification — that sacrifice — will be carnal; and ye shall
not live, but die a death the more awful.'* The Spirit must
mortify your deeds — spiritually it must be done; that is,
with real enjoyment, unmoved by fear of hell, voluntarily,
without expectation of meriting honor or reward, either
temporal or eternal. This, mark you, is a spiritual sacri-
fice. However outward, gross, physical and visible a deed
may be, it is altogether spiritual when wrought by the
Spirit. Even eating and drinking are spiritual works if done
through the Spirit. On the other hand, whatsoever is
wrought through the flesh is carnal, no matter to what ex-



FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY. 11

tent it may be a secret desire of the soul. Paul (Gal 5, 20)
terms idolatry and heresies works of the flesh, notv/ithstand-
ing they are invisible impulses of the soul.

8. In addition to this spiritual sacrifice— the mortifying
of the deeds of the body — Peter mentions another, later on
in the same chapter : "But ye are .... a royal priest-
hood .... that ye may show forth the excellencies
of him who called you out of darkness into his marvel-
ous light." Here Peter touches upon the preaching office,
the real sacrificial oitice, concerning which it is said (Ps 50,
23), "Whoso offereth the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifieth
me." Preaching extols the grace of God. It is the offering
of praise and thanks. Paul boasts (Rom 15, 16) that he
sanctifies and offers the Gospel. But it is not our purpose
to consider here this sacrifice of praise ; though praise in the
congregation may be included in the spiritual sacrifice, as
we shall see. For he who offers his body to God also offers
his tongue and his lips as instruments to confess, preach
and extol the grace of God. On this topic, however, we shall
speak elsewhere. Let us now consider the words of the text.

OUR SPIRITUAL SERVICE.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren."

9. Paul does not say, "I command you." He is preach-
ing to those already godly Christians through faith in the
new man ; to hearers who are not to be constrained by com-
mandments, but to be admonished. For the object is to
secure voluntary renunciation of their old, sinful, Adam-like
nature. He who will not cheerfully respond to friendly ad-
monition is no Christian. And he who attempts by the re-
straints of law to compel the unwilling to renunciation, is no
Christian preacher or ruler ; he is but a worldly jailer.

"By the mercies of God."

10. 'A teacher of the Law enforces his restraints through
threats and punishments. A preacher of grace persuades
and incites by calling attention to the goodness and mercy
of God. The latter does not desire works prompted by an
unwilling spirit, or service that is not the expression of a
cheerful heart. He desires that a joyous, willing spirit shall



12 LUTHER'S EPISTLE SERMONS.

incite to the service of God. He who cannot, by the gra-
cious and lovely message of God's mercy so lavishly be-
stowed upon us in Christ, be persuaded in a spirit of love
and delight to contribute to the honor of God and the benefit
of his neighbor, is worthless to Christianity, and all effort
is lost on him. Hov/ can one whom the fire of heavenly
love and grace cannot melt, be rendered cheerfully obedient
by laws and threats? Not human mercy is offered us, but
divine mercy, and Paul would have us perceive it and be
moved thereby.

"To present your bodies."

11. Many and various were the sacrifices of the Old Tes-
tament, But all were typical of this one sacrifice of the
body, offered by Christ and his Christians. And there is
not, nor can be, any other sacrifice in the New Testament.
What more would one, or could one, offer than himself, all
he is and all he has? When the body is yielded a sacrifice,
all belonging to the body is yielded also. Therefore, the
Old Testament sacrifices, with the priests and all the splen-
dor, have terminated. How does the offering of a penny
compare with that of the body? Indeed, such fragmentary
patchwork scarcely deserves recognition as a sacrifice when
the bodies of Christ and of his followers are offered.

Consequently, Isaiah may truly say that in the New Tes-
tament such beggarly works are loathsome compared to real
and great sacrifices: "He that killeth an ox is as he that
slayeth a man ; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as he that break-
eth a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as he that
offereth swine's blood; he that burneth frankincense, as he
that blesseth an idol." Is 66, 3. Similarly, also: "What
unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith Jehovah:
I have had enough of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the
fat of fed beasts ; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks,
or of lambs, or of he-goats." Is 1, 11. Thus, in plain words,
Isaiah rejects all other sacrifices in view of this true one.

12. Our blind leaders, therefore, have most wretchedly
deceived the world by their mass-offerings, for they have
forgotten ^is one real sacrifice. The mass may be celebrated



FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY. 13

and at the same time the soul be not benefited, but rather
injured. But the body cannot be offered without benefiting
the soul. Under the New Testament dispensation, then,
the mass cannot be a sacrifice, even were it ever one. For
all the works, all the sacrifices of the New Testament, must
be true and soul-benefiting. Otherwise they are not New
Testament sacrifices. It is said (Ps 25, 10), "All the paths
of Jehovah are lovingkindness and truth."

"A living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God."

13. Paul here makes use of the three words "living,"
"holy" and "acceptable," doubtless to teach that the sacri-
fices of the Old Testament are repealed and the entire
priesthood abolished. The Old Testament sacrifices con-
sisted of bullocks, sheep and goats. To these life was not
spared. For the sacrifice they were slain, burned, consumed
by the priests. But the New Testament sacrifice is a won-
derful offering. Though slain, it still lives. Indeed, in pro-
portion as it is slain and sacrificed, does it live in vigor.
"If by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye
shall live." Rom 8, 13. "For ye died, and your life is hid
with Christ in God." Col 3, 3. "And they that are of
Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and
the lusts thereof." Gal 5, 24.

14. The word "living," then, is to be spiritually under-
stood — as havinsf reference to the life before God and not
to the temporal life. He who keeps his body under and
mortifies its lusts does not live to the world; he does not
lead the life of the world. The world lives in its lusts, and
according to the flesh; it is powerless to live otherwise.
True, the Christian is bodily in the world, yet he does not
live after the flesh. As Paul says (2 Cor 10, 3), "Though
we walk in the flesh, v/e do not war according to the flesh" ;
and again (Rom 8, 1), "Who walk not after the flesh."
Such a life is, before God, eternal, and a true, living sacri-
fice. Such mortification of the body and of its lusts, whether
effected by voluntary discipline or by persecution, is simply
an exercise in and for the life eternal.

15. None of the Old Testam.ent sacrifices were holy —



Online LibraryMartin LutherThe precious and sacred writings of Martin Luther ... based on the Kaiser chronological edition, with references to the Erlangen and Walch editions; (Volume 8) → online text (page 1 of 30)