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Monday, April 14, 2014

Walther's Greatest Sermon? (Echo of Martin Luther)

To continue from the last post regarding Walther's sermons, I want to highlight the one sermon that is perhaps his greatest... I know it was for me.   As an antidote for all the world's false notions of what the celebration of Easter means (Rabbits, candy, etc.), and all the trappings that can take away the true spiritual meaning of Easter (Easter brunch, Easter egg hunts, family gatherings, etc.), I want to highlight the sermon that was my lifeline, my rock, my "only stay" against the doubt that could destroy my Christian faith.  All of the following excerpts from this sermon of Walther are taken from the English translation in the ELS book The Word Of His Grace, pages 229-236:
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Second Homily on Holy Easter Day.
(Zweite Predigt am heiligen Ostertage.) 
CHRIST'S RESURRECTION-THE WORLD'S ABSOLUTION
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(Opening prayer and introduction)
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CHRIST'S GLORIOUS RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD
THE ACTUAL ABSOLUTION OF THE ENTIRE SINFUL WORLD 
Here I would point to two things:
1.       That This Is Certain And True, and
2.       That Therefore Every Man Who Wants To Be Saved Must By Faith Accept This General Absolution As Applying Also To Him.
... 
     In order to redeem this entire human race the Son of God became a man and permitted all the sins of all men to be imputed to Him as though they were His own. ....
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... It means the account is settled. ...
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... It was—oh, marvelous and endlessly comforting truth!—it was all mankind. ...
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... that God the Father, in raising Jesus Christ from the dead, has already absolved all men from all their sins.
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Remove this comfort from the Scriptures, and all its other doctrines become empty husks that have no comfort.
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The one who does not know that Christ's resurrection was the absolution of all men also does not know ... what the Gospel is, what the Holy Sacraments, the Means of Grace are, nor what private absolution is.  For it is solely the resurrection of Christ from the dead that first of all makes the Gospel that which it is, namely true tidings of joy, i.e. a doctrine that does not tell a person what works he must do in order that his sins may be forgiven, but tells him that in the Person of Christ his sins are already forgiven him.
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And yet another matter, dear friends! God's absolution is indeed valid and efficacious at all times and it will remain valid and effective until the Last Day. ...
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At the conclusion of this sermon, there was appended a "Supplement" or "Addition".  It was a quote from Martin Luther.  I quote the ELS translation below (page 236; Brosamen pg 147):
In Christ's keys lie hidden His blood, His death, and resurrection with which He has opened heaven for us. And through the keys He distributes to poor sinners that which He has merited by His blood .. . The one who does not believe that he is acquitted and that his sins are forgiven shall in due time indeed learn how assuredly his sins were for­given even though he did not believe it, St. Paul says in Romans 3:3: "For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? ... A king gives you a castle. If you do not accept it then the king is not guilty of a lie, nor is it his fault. But you have deceived yourself and it is your fault. The king certainly gave it.
(Martin Luther's treatise "Concerning the Keys" from 1530)
This quote will be familiar to readers of my current series on Walther's LDJ essay (The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification)... it is from the most recent Part 16: Keys, King & Castle; Unbelief.

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Dear God!... even now, I must pause and thank Thee for Thy marvelous grace, a Universal Grace that leaves me no room for doubt!  Through Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen!

Dear reader, if your pastor, even your Lutheran pastor, does not preach like this on Easter Day, then you should consider finding a true Lutheran pastor... —  Now buy all the books of Walther's sermons you can find:
1. CPH: Gospel Sermons 1,Gospel Sermons 2, Selected Writings - Sermons, God Grant It
2. Baseley-Mark V here: From Our Master's Table, Occasional Sermons and Addresses, Festive Sounds
3. ELS: The Word Of His Grace 
And now I will continue my series translating Walther's essay on the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification, LDJ.  The next post is Part 17, beginning the 2nd half of this series...

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