The People of Law and Grace; a great sermon that presents the true understanding of justification by faith and the function of the Law; Of interest to the JDDJ debate is this quote: "Note, Paul everywhere teaches justification, not by works, but solely by faith; and not as a process, but instantaneous. The testament includes in itself everything-
A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil of 1522.
The People of Law and of Grace.
1. This text is very characteristic of the apostle Paul. It is not generally understood. Not because of any obscurity in itself, but because the doctrine of faith, a doctrine it is very necessary to understand if we are to comprehend Paul, for his energetic and zealous mind is, in all his epistles, occupied with the subject of faith-
2. We must know it is one thing to handle the subject of good works and another that of justification; just as the nature or personality of an individual is one thing and his actions or works another. Justification has reference to the person and not to the works. It is the former, not the latter, which is justified and saved, or is sentenced and punished.
3. Therefore, it is settled that no one is justified by works; he must first be justified by other means. Moses says (Gen 4, 4-
4. Now, let it be sufficiently proven for the present that there are two kinds of good works; some precede and others follow justification. The former merely appear to be good and effectual; the latter are really good.
5. Now, this is the point of contention between presumptuous saints and God. Right here carnal nature contends, even rages, against the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures everywhere treat of this contention. Therein God concludes all man's works, previous to his justification, evil and ineffectual; he requires justification and goodness on the part of the individual first. Again, he concludes that all persons in the state of nature and of the first birth are unjust and evil. As said in Psalms 116, 11, "All men are liars." And in Genesis 6, 5, "Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually." Hence the natural man can perform no good work, and all his attempts will be no better than Cain's.
6. Here Madam Huldah with her scornful nose-
7. In the second place, Madam Huldah, basing her position simply on works and attaching very little importance to the justified individual, proceeds still further and attributes all merit and supreme righteousness to the works following justification. She quotes James 2, 26, "Faith apart from works is dead." Not understanding this statement, she undervalues faith. Consequently she continues to hold to good works, presuming to require of God acceptance of the doer for the sake of the works. So the two continually strive against one another. God respects the individual, Cain the works. God rewards the works for the sake of the doer; Cain would have the doer crowned because of his works. God will not yield his just and righteous position, and the young nobleman Cain will never while the world stands allow himself to be convinced of his error. We must not reject his works, slight his reason or look unto his freewill as powerless; for so he will become angry with God and slay his brother Abel, a fact to which all history gives abundant testimony.
8. Do you ask: "What then am I to do? How shall I make myself good and acceptable in person to begin with? how secure that justification? The Gospel replies: "Hear Christ and believe in him, utterly despairing of yourself and resting assured you will be changed from a Cain to an Abel and then present your offerings." just as faith is proclaimed without merit or work on your part, it is also bestowed regardless of your works, without any of your merits. It is given of pure grace. Note, faith justifies the individual; faith is justification. Because of faith God remits all sins, and forgives the old Adam and the Cain in our nature, for the sake of Christ his beloved Son, whose name faith represents. More, he bestows his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes the individual into a new creature, one with different reason and different will, and inclined to the good. Such a one, wherever he is, performs wholly good works, and all his works are good; as taught in the preceding epistle lesson.
9. Then nothing else is necessary to justification but to hear and believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. But that is not a work of the natural man; it is a work of grace. He who presumes to attain justification by works, only obstructs the way of the Gospel, of faith, grace, Christ, God and all good. On the other hand, nothing but justification is necessary to render works good. The justified man and none other does good; all he does, being justified, is good, without distinction of works. Therefore, the order of man's salvation, the beginning and the sequel, is first to hear and then believe God's Word as supreme, and then to act. Thus shall man be saved. He who perverts this order and acts accordingly is certainly not of God.
10. Paul prescribes this order where he says (Rom 10, 13-
11. Now, observe what people commonly do and say. "Yes,"' they tell you, "I expect to become godly. Yes, we must be godly." But if they are asked what we are to do to accomplish it, they go on to say, "Indeed, we must pray, fast, attend Church, abstain from sin, and so on." One will enter a monastery, another some order. One will become a priest, another will don a hair-
12. Mention faith to them and they scoff and laugh, saying: "Are we Turks or heathen that we must first learn what faith is? Is it possible that our multitude of monks, nuns and priests do not know? Who can be ignorant of what believing is when even they who openly sin know its meaning?" As if having finished with faith, they imagine they must henceforth devote themselves to works. As before said, they regard faith of slight importance; for they do not understand that it is our sole justifier. To accept as true the record of Christ-
13. In the preceding epistles we have heard that to be a Christian it is not enough simply to believe the story of Christ true-
14. The Christian should entertain no fear-
15. When the Cain-
16. Tell them what the prophet says in Psalm 86, 2: "Preserve my soul; for I am godly"; and Paul's words in Romans 8, 16: "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God;" and they reply: "Yes, but the prophet and the apostle did not mean by these statements to establish a doctrine or leave an example of what others may claim. They were enlightened and their holiness was revealed to them." Similarly, they construe every passage relating to the subject as not doctrinal in design, but exhibiting a remarkable miracle, a special prerogative of certain individuals not to be possessed by every believer. This explanation is a mere invention of their own minds. Themselves unbelievers, tasting not the Spirit, they think no one else should so believe or taste. By such conduct-
17. Such, however, is the character of their own faith, they are led to believe they are made godly and holy through their works, and that therefore God must save them. Note, in their opinion, to become godly through works is Christianity; but to become godly through divine grace is heresy. Apparently their works are of greater importance and value than the grace of God. Their faith can rely upon works, but not upon God's grace. Since they reject the rock and build upon the sand, they but get their deserts when they fall into the error of their own works and torture themselves to death, to the devil's advantage. It is all because they will not rely upon the grace of God and render him reasonable service.
18. They who possess the Christian faith must in consequence of it be confidently happy in God and his grace. They will even delight in good works. The prayers the Cain-
19. But the Cain-
THE USE AND NECESSITY OF THE LAW.
20. Perhaps you ask, "If it is true that we are justified not by works, but by hearing of Christ and believing in him as ours personally, what is the need and use of the commandments? Why has God so urgently taught them? I answer: We come now to this our epistle lesson. It tells us the object of the commandments. The Galatians first learned the Christian faith from Paul. Afterward, being perverted by certain false teachers, they turned back to their works, imagining they must become righteous through the deeds of the Law. In our lesson Paul recalls them from their works unto faith, and with multiplied terms points out to them the two kinds of works of the Law. His conclusion is: the works preceding justification-
21. But we must acquaint ourselves with Paul's language, his distinction between the servant and the child. The self-
22. Now, the Cain-
23. The apostle's design is to make plain the fact that, lacking faith, the Law, with all its works, constitutes us simply servants. Only faith can make us children. Not the Law, nor the works of the Law, nor human nature can create faith within us; the Gospel alone brings it. It is present when we give ear to the Gospel, the Word of grace, which Word is accompanied by the Holy Spirit when preached and heard in quiet sincerity. Witness the example of Cornelius and his family (Acts 10, 44), who received the Holy Spirit simply upon hearing Peter preach.
24. The Law was given merely to reveal to man his graceless and servile condition and his lack of filial affection; to show him how he serves God without faith and confidence, and a free, spontaneous spirit. The self-
25. Such is the right way to view the Law; such is the use we are to make of it. It is calculated simply to convict and vanquish all who presume to fulfil it without faith. For these, being servants, undertake its requirements with no free, spontaneous spirit and with no reliance on grace. The Law is designed to try men, to teach them by defeat in the conflict with it how unwilling, how faithless, they are, and thus lead them to seek help elsewhere and not to presume by their own strength to meet its demands. A voluntary spirit is necessary, and only the child of God can fulfil the Law. The Law is an enemy to the unwilling and to servants.
26. But the self-
27. Beloved, how does the Law do this? Study a Cain-
28. You see plainly, that individual is not good nor righteous, for he is destitute of faith, in fact is an enemy to faith. Being an enemy to faith, he is an enemy to righteousness. Consequently his works are not meritorious, no matter how admirable they may appear judged by the standard of the Law. So you see Paul is right when he says, "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight." In God's sight the doer must be good before his works are good. True, his works may justify him before men, who judge according to the deeds performed and not according to the doer's spirit-
The first commandment of the Law demands that we have one God and honour him, that is, trust and confide in him, build upon him. This is true faith, whereby we are made children of God. Thus the Law clearly reveals the sin of the Cain-
29. You cannot extricate yourself from unbelief, nor can the Law do it for you. All your works in intended fulfilment of the Law must remain works of the Law and powerless to justify in the sight of God, who regards as just only believing children. For only these fulfil the first commandment and hold him true God. Though you torture yourself to death with works, yet they will not afford your heart the faith this commandment requires. Indeed, as before stated, works neither know nor tolerate faith. They do not recognize that the Law requires faith. Therefore, he who puts his trust in works must continue the devil's martyr and a persecutor of faith and the Law through those very works wherein he trusts, until he comes to himself, knows himself and, despairing of himself and his works, gives honour to God; until, perceiving his own worthlessness, he ardently desires pure grace, driven to it by God, through the Law. Then faith and grace come to fill the empty heart, to feed the hungry soul. Then follow really good works. These works are not of the Law; they are works of the Spirit of grace, in the Scriptures styled the works of God-
30. In the second place, one like Cain never performs his duty willingly and voluntarily unless he is hired and is permitted to exercise his own pleasure, to have his own desires. He is precisely like the servant who will not do his duty unless he is driven, or is given his own way. Now, servants that have to be driven or coaxed or flattered are very disagreeable. Likewise the Cain-
31. The Law teaches us to recognize the unwillingness and perversity of our minds. They are wholly sinful before God. Where is the holiness in performing with the hands required duties when our hearts are unkindly disposed toward the Law and the Law-
32. Paul introduces a figure from material life. As we know, a minor, a child, who is heir to an estate left from parents or bequeathed by will, is reared in restraint like a servant so far as control of the estate is concerned. He is powerless to exercise his own pleasure in regard to it. He is kept under restraint and discipline, being permitted to derive from the estate only enough for food and raiment, notwithstanding the property is really his own. In the matter of his own possessions, he is but as a stranger and a servant.
33. Similarly, in spiritual matters God made a testament when he gave Abraham the promise (Gen 22, 18) that in his seed, Christ, should all the nations of the earth be blessed. This testament was afterward established by the death of Christ; and after his resurrection it was published through the Gospel. The Gospel is merely a revelation, a manifestation, of this testament wherein it is declared to the world that in Christ, the seed of Abraham, grace and blessing are willed and given to all men, and may be received by every one if only he believes it.
34. Before this testament was opened and published, children of God were under the Law, burdened and constrained by its works. Nevertheless, their works did not justify; rather they were servile and unprofitable. But because God's children were predestined to a future faith which should constitute them children, they were unquestionably heirs of the grace and blessing conveyed in the testament; though not then in possession of it and able to appropriate it, but, like others without faith, servile and occupied with works. just so, it is the case now, and always has been, that many believe, and acknowledge faith, after having been previously overwhelmed with works and in ignorance of faith; after having been, with hypocrites, occupied in works. From the fact of their now apprehending faith and receiving the inheritance, they certainly must have been all the time heirs and predestined of God, though in ignorance of the fact, and though servants, self-
35. So some who are now occupied with works and whose holiness is like Cain's, who are servants as he was, are nevertheless future heirs and children, because they will yet believe. Faith will enable them to lay aside their servility, to surrender their works and to obtain the great blessing, the vast inheritance, of justification. And being justified, righteousness and salvation are theirs without works. Then will they voluntarily do all their works to the honour of God and the benefit of their neighbours, without expectation of reward or intent to secure righteousness or a reward. For they are in possession of the inheritance and blessing; they have what Christ has bequeathed to them in his testament and caused to be opened, proclaimed and distributed through the Gospel, all of pure grace and mercy.
36. Abraham and every other patriarch, you will observe, recognized God's testament or covenant. It was delivered to them just as much as to us, although not at that time read and proclaimed to the world as after Christ's ascension They obtained the very same thing that we and all God's children obtain, and through the very same faith. The grace, the blessing, the testament, the faith-
37. Note, Paul everywhere teaches justification, not by works, but solely by faith; and not as a process, but instantaneous. The testament includes in itself everything-
38. These guardians and stewards are they who bring up the heir on his father's estate, restraining him from a wild and vagabond life. Though they withhold from him control of the inheritance, they are necessary and benefit the heir in various ways. In the first place, as stated before, they keep him at home on the estate, to better fit him for enjoyment of it. Secondly, the fact of his being carefully and closely restrained will inspire in him stronger desire for control of the inheritance; when he arrives at the age of discretion he will yearn for freedom and be unwilling to continue under others' control.
39. The same is necessarily true of everyone still occupied with works under the Law, and a servant. The Law is his guardian, his steward. He is under its control as one in constraint of another. The Law is designed, in the first place, to train him and keep him in bounds; to restrain him externally, through fear of punishment, from committing evil works; to save him from becoming wholly dissolute, from risking everything and altogether shutting himself out from God and his salvation, as do the profligate. The Law is intended, in the second place, to teach man to know himself; to bring him to reason, where he may recognize his unwilling allegiance to the Law, how he performs no work willingly as a child, but by constraint as a bondservant. The Law gives him experience as to his shortcomings; it shows him his lack of a free, new and everwilling spirit-
40. Being made aware of his unwilling attitude, he sees that his works are only an external observance of the Law, while in his heart he is an enemy and opposer of the Law, so far as cheerful obedience is concerned. Hence he truly is constantly at heart a sinner against the Law, and externally a saint according to the Law; in other words, a real Cain, an egregious hypocrite. Manifestly to himself, his works are works of the Law, but his heart is a heart of sin. His heart being not disposed to the Law, it is disposed to sin, while merely his hands are constrained to observe the Law's requirements.
41. Very aptly has Paul styled works without faith "works of the Law." For the Law forces them; they are simply compulsory works. Now, the Law demands the heart also. It desires a willing obedience. A willing obedience may be said to be not only "a work of the Law," but "a heart of the Law"; not only " hands of the Law," but, “will, spirit and all the powers of the Law." As Psalm 1, 1-
42. Now, it is easily apparent to everyone that to give our hands to the Law and our whole hearts to sin, is a very unequal division of service; for the whole heart means vastly more than the works of the hands. What is such a proceeding but giving the chaff to the Law and the grain to sin, or the shell to God and the kernel to the devil? This explains how, as taught in the Gospel, the sin of the public transgressor is but a mote, while that of the secret offender is a great beam.
43. Now, where circumstances are such that Cain does not see this beam and does not learn to know himself in this sense of the Law, but continues obdurate and blind in his works, disregarding his inner wickedness-
44. But the prospective Abels and future children learn to recognize themselves by the Law, to discover how little heartfelt delight they have for that Law. Ceasing to rely upon their own presumption, they let go their hold and with this knowledge are completely helpless in their own eyes. Just here the Gospel comes in. Here is where God gives grace to the humble. These children of God lay hold of the testament and believe. With and in this faith they receive the Holy Spirit. He gives to them a new heart, a heart delighting in the Law and hating sin; and doing right voluntarily and cheerfully. Works of the Law are now superseded by hearts of the Law. This is the time appointed of the father for the heir to come into his own-
45. The apostle uses a word familiar to us-
46. It is in a rather contemptuous sense that Paul terms the Law "rudiments," or letters; it is "weak and beggarly" because it can afford no relief. It renders us likewise weak and beggarly, for it demands service of the heart and mind; and the heart and mind are not present. Hence the conscience grows weak and beggarly, confessing it has not and can not have what it should have. As the apostle expresses it (2 Cor. 3, 6), "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
47. Some understand by "rudiments" not the letter of the law, but the ceremonials and outward forms of worship incident to the religious life, and which we early teach children. In that connection, "rudiments" implies the first crude, childish forms of worship.
48. Paul qualifies "rudiments" by the phrase "of the world," because the self-
49. But faith, independent of the world, hangs upon God, his Word and his mercy; and justifies us, not by works or any other worldly thing, but by the eternal, invisible grace of God. To the Christian, one day is like another; and meats, places, apparel and all worldly things are alike. They neither help nor hinder his salvation and justification, as they do in the case of Cain and the self-
So, though the Christian has to do with external, temporal affairs, yet he is indifferent to worldly things. He is free to disregard them. All are alike to him-
50. The Cain-
Upon this point Paul says (Col 2, 20-
51. From this quotation and from our foregoing arguments, clearly all orders, institutions and cloisters, now styled ecclesiastical positions, are directly opposed to the Gospel and to the freedom of Christian life; and they who are bound by them are in greater danger than are actual worldlings. The things they devise are mere rudiments of this world. They pertain only to apparel, persons, conditions, times, forms, meats and vessels-
52. These ecclesiasts have more need than anyone else to guard against such dazzling devices. They have especial need to adhere stedfastly to faith, the righteousness of which is beyond the world and worldly things. The glitter and show of works tear away from faith with greater violence than do gross, open sins, and place the doers in the condition to which Paul here refers when he says, "So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world." When we were ignorant of faith and occupied with the works of the Law, we performed-
53. Now, since the law cannot effect justification nor faith, and human nature with all its works cannot merit them, Paul introduces him who merited faith in our stead, and who is master of justification-
54. Hence the learned doctors erred in interpreting this passage by Paul to mean that the time of fulfilment was the time of grace following Christ's birth. This is directly contrary to the apostle, who does not say, "the time of the fulfilment," but "the fulfilment of the time," meaning the previous time appointed of the Father for the heir,-
55. Like as the time of the bondservant was fulfilled for the Jews by the bodily advent of Christ, so is it still daily fulfilled for the individual when he is enlightened by faith, and his period of servitude in legal works terminates. Christ's bodily advent would have been to no purpose had it not effected a spiritual advent, the advent of faith. The purpose of the former appearance was the establishment of the latter one. Christ came spiritually to all who, whether previously or subsequently, believed in his bodily advent. Hence, because of their faith, he was always present with the ancient fathers; but he has not yet come to the Jews of today because of their unbelief. Everything, from the beginning of the world to the end, depends on that bodily advent. Faith therein terminates the state of servitude whenever, wherever and in whomsoever it exists. Therefore, the time is fulfilled for each individual when he begins to believe in Christ as the promised one now come.
WHAT WE ARE TO BELIEVE CONCERNING CHRIST.
56. So rich in meaning is this verse, I am not sure I shall be able to do it justice in my explanation. It is not enough merely to believe that Christ is come; we must believe also what Paul here states: that he is sent of God and is the Son of God; that he is true man; that his mother was a virgin; that he alone has fulfilled the Law, and not for his own sake but for our good-
57. The soul cannot, and should not, be content with anything but the Highest Good-
58. The apostle says, "God sent his son." The fact of sending necessitates previous existence of the Son. Christ must have existed before he manifested himself on earth in human form. Again, if he is a Son, he must be greater than an angel. Being more than man and more than angels, the highest creatures, he must be true God. To be the Son of God is to be superior to an angel, as said in the Epistle for Christmas day. Further, Christ being sent by God, and being God's Son, he must be a distinct person from him who sends. Thus Paul teaches here the existence of one God in two persons, Father and Son. We shall speak later of the Holy Spirit.
59. For the second point: We are also to believe Christ to be true, natural man, and the Son of man. Paul says he was born of a woman, or made of a woman. Now, he who is born of a woman must be truly a natural man. A woman can bear only according to her nature-
60. No one, then, must presume by his own devotion, his own efforts, to institute a way of approach to God. It is futile to call on God in the manner of the Jews and the Turks. We must approach him through the seed of Abraham, and be blessed through that seed, according to God's covenant. God will not make a special way for you. He will not, because of your service, annul his covenant. You must abandon your own efforts and cleave to the seed he mentions, to that flesh and blood; otherwise you will be lost with all the spiritual skill and wisdom you may have gained from God. Christ says (Jn 14, 6), "No one cometh unto the Father, but by me."
61. Because of the exalted and incomprehensible character of the divine nature, God has for our good manifested himself in the most familiar form-
62. In the third place, we must believe that Christ's mother was a virgin. The apostle makes this plain when he declares the Son of God was made of a woman-
like other children. He alone among men is born of woman only. The apostle is not disposed to say "born of a virgin," because "virgin" is not naturally consistent here. But "woman" represents a state in nature-
63. Paul attaches more importance to the birth of Christ than to Mary's virginity. He passes over in silence her virginity, merely a peculiar personal grace that benefited none but herself, and points out her womanhood, advantageous not only to herself but to her fruit. Her virginity ministers not so much to Christ as does her womanhood. She was selected in her virginity not for her own sake, but for Christ's sake. He chose to be born of a virgin that he might be born without sin. A sinless birth was impossible except through the instrumentality of a virgin woman who was able to conceive and bring forth without the aid of man.
64. Such seems to be included in God's covenant, declaring that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in the seed of Abraham. From the fact of a blessing being promised, it is evident that men must be under a curse because of their physical birth in sin resulting from Adam. Should this seed of Abraham be a blessing to all, it could not itself be under a curse; therefore, the Saviour could not come of Adam's birth, which is altogether under the curse.
65. Further, to verify the testament or covenant of God who cannot lie, Christ must be the natural child of Abraham-
66. If to Mary, the holy virgin, is due great honour for her virginity, infinitely greater honour is due her for her womanhood. For her procreative powers were instrumental in the fulfilment of God's covenant, and in making the blessed seed of Abraham the blessed fruit of her womanhood. Her mere virginity would have been insufficient to accomplish it; in fact, entirely futile.
67. In the fourth place, we must believe that none but Christ has fulfilled the law. He says (Mt 5, 17), "Think not that I came to destroy the law . . . but to fulfil." Such, too, is the meaning of the covenant that says the whole world is condemned, and shall be blessed in Abraham's seed. Gen 22, 18. Now, if all men are condemned and unblessed, the individual cannot be good; he is only Cain-
68. The fact that Christ rejects all works of the Law and demands that the person first be good and blessed, may seem to teach that he rejects good works and designs to destroy the Law altogether. But in reality Christ teaches us to perform good works. For the very purpose of correcting error on this point, he says (Mt 5, 17): "Think not that I came to destroy the Law" because I reject the works of the Law. Rather I design its fulfilment through men's faith in me, which first renders the individual good and then enables him to do really good works. Similarly Paul says, rejecting all works of the Law and exalting faith alone: "Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid: nay, we establish the law." Rom 3, 31. Of us at the present day also it is said that we forbid good works when we condemn the practices of the cathedrals and cloisters in the matter of works. Nevertheless, our actual desire for the people is that they first embrace true faith whereby they may become personally good, and be blessed in Christ the seed of Abraham, and thus be enabled to do good works contributing to the mortification of the body and to the good of mankind. To this end the things wrought in cathedrals and cloisters contribute nothing, as already fully stated.
69. Observe, no one is able to fulfil the Law until he first is liberated from it. We must become accustomed to Paul's peculiar phraseology in his reference to some being "under the Law" if we would know who is really under it and who is free. All who perform good works simply because commanded, and from fear of punishment or expectation of reward, are under the Law. Their piety and good deeds result from constraint, and not from a willing spirit. The Law is their master, their driver, and they its bondservants and captives. Such is the attitude of all men without Christ the blessed seed of Abraham. Our own experience and the voice of everyone's conscience teach this. Were it not for the restraint of Law-
70. But they who are liberated from the Law do good and avoid evil, regardless of the threats and promises of the Law-
blessing of Christ gives the willing disposition. Willingness is the result of his grace and of the influence of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, "not under the Law" does not mean liberty to do evil and to neglect good as we feel inclined. It means doing good and avoiding evil, not in consequence of fear, not from the restraints and requirements of the Law, but from pure love and a willing spirit. Freedom from the Law involves a spirit which would voluntarily do only good, as if the Law did not exist and our nature were prone to do good. It is a freedom paralleled by that of the body, which willingly eats, drinks, assimilates, sleeps, moves and performs all natural functions. No law, no compulsion, is necessary. It acts voluntarily and seasonably, without fear of punishment or expectation of reward. It may truly be said that the body is under no law, still it performs its functions; it acts spontaneously.
71. Mark you, we must have within ourselves a ready, natural willingness that will incline to good and recoil from evil. This is spiritual liberation, or redemption from the, Law. Thus is explained Paul's words (1 Tim 1, 9): "Law is not made for a righteous man." From his own impulse the righteous man inclines to good and abstains from evil; it is with no fear of penalty or hope of recompense. Again, we read (Rom 6, 15), "We are not under law, but under grace." That is, we are children, not bondservants; we incline to good readily, without constraint. Again (Rom 8, 15), "Ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." The Law produces a spirit of fear; a servile, Cain-
72. Thus Christ fulfilled the Law and did all, of his own free will; not because of the compelling or restraining power of the Law. No other has ever fulfilled it, nor will any fulfil it, except in and through him. So Paul here says that Christ as "born under the law, that he might redeem them that are under the law."
73. In the fifth place, we are to believe that Christ's motive was to benefit us. He desired to make children of us servants. What is meant by the phrase "that he might redeem them that were under the law"? Unquestionably, that he might redeem us from under the Law. But how does Christ effect that? As said before, not by the threats or the rewards of the Law, but by bestowing a voluntary spirit; a spirit prompted neither by compulsion nor restraint; a spirit that regards not the terrors nor the rewards of the Law, but proceeds as if no Law existed and all action were voluntary, as was the case with Adam and Eve before the fall.
74. But what is the process whereby Christ gives us such a spirit and redeems us from under the Law? The work is effected solely by faith. He who believes that Christ came to redeem us, and that he has accomplished it, is really redeemed. As he believes, so is it with him. Faith carries with it the child-
HOW CHRIST WAS UNDER THE LAW.
75. The question, however, still arises: How can Christ be under the Law if to be "under the Law" is to be prompted to obedience only by its restraints and compulsion, and if no one under the Law can fulfil it since God requires a voluntary conformity to its demands? I answer: The apostle seems to make a distinction when he says that Christ was put, or made under the Law; that is, he voluntarily placed himself under the Law. Again, with his voluntary consent, the Father placed him under the Law, though properly he was not subject. We, however, were made subject against our desires. We, as Paul says, were naturally and essentially in forced subjection. While Christ was voluntarily, not by nature, under the Law, we were by nature, not voluntarily, in subjection.
76. There is a marked difference between being placed under the Law and being of choice under the Law; just the difference there is between volition and the compulsion of nature. Acting according to the pleasures of the will differs materially from obeying the impulses of nature. What is performed by pleasure of the will may be omitted; it is not compulsory. But what is wrought in obedience to the impulses of nature is of necessity; it is not optional. One may go to the Rhine or not, as he pleases; but he must eat, drink, assimilate, sleep, grow and advance in years regardless of his will. Christ put himself under the Law voluntarily, when he had power to refrain. But we were by nature under it; there was no alternative. We could not voluntarily obey and suffer the Law as if under no constraint, as before stated. But Christ, independent of any obligation to obey the Law, observed it voluntarily; he acted as if there were no law for him.
77. To illustrate: Peter, the apostle (Acts 12, 6-
78. But how is this done? We cleave to Christ and follow him when we believe that he effects all for our benefit. Such faith introduces the Spirit. Having faith, we too shall perform the requirements of the Law voluntarily, unfettered and liberated from the prison of the Law. The two chains, fear of punishment and hope of reward, will no longer restrain us. All our acts will be spontaneous, prompted by pure love and a cheerful spirit.
79. To further understand how Christ was put under the Law: Observe, he placed himself in subjection in a twofold manner. In the first place, he put himself under the works of the Law. He permitted himself to be circumcised and to be presented and purified in the temple. He was submissive to his father and mother, and all those things, when no obligation required. For he was Lord over all laws. He acted voluntarily in this respect, unprompted by fear of punishment or expectation of reward as far as he was himself concerned. When we consider the question of mere external works, we can perceive no difference between his conduct and that of individuals actuated by compulsion and restraint. His liberty and free will were concealed from men, just as the imprisonment and unwillingness of others were not apparent. Thus Christ acts under the Law, though properly not under the Law. He conducts himself like those in bondage to it, but he is himself free. His will being free, he is not under the Law. In the matter of works, which he voluntarily performs, he is subject. But we, both as to our wills and to our works, are under the Law; for we effect works by constraint of will.
80. In the second place, Christ willingly put himself under the penalty of the Law. He did more than perform the works of the Law to which he was not obligated; he willingly and innocently suffered the penalty threatened and inflicted of the Law upon all who fail of observance. Now, the Law adjudges to death, condemnation and eternal punishment every transgressor of its commands. Paul, quoting from Deuteronomy 27, 26, says: "Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them." Gal 3, 10.
81. We have now made sufficiently plain the fact that no individual out of Christ is able to keep the Law; all of that class are under the Law, like servants, and fettered and constrained. Consequently, the disregarding of the Law deserves its judgment and penalties. He who is under the Law in the first respect-
Christ Redeems Us.
But Christ intervenes before sentence is executed upon us. He interposes, approaching us as we are under sentence. He suffers the penalty-
82. Note, the Son of God is put under the Law in that he redeemed us who were under it. For us, for our good, he effected all; not for himself. He purposed to manifest toward us only love, goodness and mercy. As Paul has it (Gal 3, 13), "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us." In other words: For us, Christ put himself under the law and complied with its demands, designing every believer of this fact to be redeemed from under the Law with its curse.
83. Mark you, then, the priceless blessing for the believing Christian: To him are attributed as his own all the works and sufferings of Christ. He may rely upon them as if they were his-
84. What more should God do? How can the heart avoid being free, joyous and cheerfully obedient in God and Christ? What work can it encounter or what suffering endure to which it will not respond singing and leaping in love and praise for God? When such is not the case, there is certainly some defect in our faith. For the greater our faith, the greater our freedom and happiness; the less our faith, the less our joy. Note, this is the Christian redemption, the Christian freedom from the Law and its curse-
85. This is an occasion to admonish the poor Cain-
86. Let this suffice on that verse. We were compelled to treat the subject at length because so little is known concerning the doctrine of faith, a knowledge of which is necessary to a right understanding of Paul. Now follows: "And because ye are sons [children]. God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
87. Here we see that the Holy Spirit is communicated, not through works, but through faith; for as it reads, the Spirit is given to men because they are children and not servants. Children believe; servants only work. Children are free from the Law; servants are under it. The foregoing explanations make all this plain. It may be necessary, however, for us to consider in some measure the sense in which Paul uses the words "child" and "servant," "free" and "bond." Works performed under compulsion are the works of servants, and works wrought of free will are the works of children.
88. Why does Paul tell the Galatians the Holy Spirit was given them because they were children, when the fact is, the Holy Spirit creates children from servants, and must be essentially present before they can become children? I reply: He speaks in the same future sense characteristic of verses three and four, where we read that before the time was fulfilled we were under the rudiments. Here the reference is to children prospectively, in the sight of God. The Holy Spirit was sent to transform the servants into the children they were designed to be.
89. Paul speaks of the Spirit as the Spirit of the Son of God. Why not the Spirit of God? Because he would emphasize the point he is making. Being children of God, God sends them the Spirit of Christ, himself a child, giving them the right to cry, with him, "Abba, Father." In other words, God sends you his Spirit, who dwells in his Son, that you may be brethren and heirs with him, crying as he cries, "Abba, Father." The unspeakable goodness and grace of God are extolled in the fact that through faith we share with Christ the full blessings, having all he has, and all he is also his Spirit.
90. These words also establish the doctrine of a third person-
91. But let everyone be certain that he feels the Holy Spirit's presence in himself and hears his voice. Paul says: When the Holy Spirit is in the heart he cries, "Abba, Father." Again (Rom 8,15), "Ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." We recognize that voice when the conscience, without doubt or wavering, is firmly persuaded, fully satisfied, that our sins are forgiven and that we are children of God; and when, having such assurance of salvation, we may with joyous and confident heart approach God and call him our beloved Father. But we must be as certain as we are that we live, and must prefer death in any form, yes, hell with all its pangs, to being deprived of the Spirit or to distrusting him. It would be unreasonable doubt of the unbounded achievements of Christ and of his unlimited sufferings were we not to believe that he freely wrought all for us, and not to let this fact incite us to confidence and strength in him equal to the force wherewith sin or temptation terrifies or dissuades us.
92. True, conflict may arise here. The individual may have a fearful feeling that he is not a child of God. He may imagine God to be a judge over him, angry and austere. Such was the case with Job, and many others. In such conflict, filial confidence must gain the victory, however it may tremble and quake; otherwise all will be lost.
93. Now, the Cain-
94. All the works of God are wonderful and of mighty import. Hence they fill us with joy and courage, giving us fearlessness and ability to endure anything that may befall us. But the principles of the Cain-
95. Let us, then, heed closely the text. We must perceive the cry of the Spirit in our hearts. It is truly the cry of our own hearts; why, then, should we not recognize it? Paul uses the term "crying" when he might as easily have referred to the Spirit as "whispering," "speaking" or "singing." But the first word is more forcible. The Spirit calls, or cries, with power; that is from our full heart, a heart that always lives and moves in true, child-
96. How preciously effective temptations and afflictions are in this direction! They drive us to cry; they rouse the Spirit. But we fear and flee at sight of the cross. Consequently we never feel the Spirit, and we continue Cain's subjects. If we do not recognize the Spirit's cry, we must reflect, and must not cease to pray until God hears us; for we are like Cain and our condition is perilous. We are not to expect, however, that no voice but the Spirit's will cry within us. The voice of murder will cry, to impel us to desire the Spirit's voice and to exercise ourselves to hear it. So has it ever been with men. Our sins will also cry: they will produce in our conscience strong tendencies to despair. But the Spirit of Christ must, and shall, outvoice that cry. He will create in us a confidence stronger than the tendency to despair. John says (I Jn 3, 19-
97. The Spirit calling and crying within us is simply a powerful assurance, a perfect confidence, from the depths of the hearts of loving children toward God their beloved Father.
98. Note how far above mere human nature is the life of the Christian. Human nature is not capable of such a cry, of such confidence in God. It only fears and cries murder upon itself. It exclaims, "0 wo, wo, is me! Thou austere and intolerable judge!" just as Cain cried to God (Gen 4, 13-
99. In persecuting faith and defaming and condemning it as heresy and presumption, the unbelievers conduct themselves as their father Cain did to his brother Abel. Thus in themselves they slay Christ their brother. His innocent blood will not cease to cry toward heaven against them, as the blood of Abel cried against Cain. God will inquire after Abel; he will demand of each of them, "Where is Christ your brother?" Then the disordered Cain will go on to dissemble, saying: "What do I know about him? am I my brother's keeper?" For it is the same thing to say: "Shall I be presumptuous enough to regard myself righteous and holy and a child of God merely through Christ? No, no; I will work until I become righteous myself, without his aid." Mark you, thus the crying blood of Abel continued to be upon Cain; and the crying blood of Christ will continue upon all believers, still demanding vengeance and wrath. But as for the believers, the blood will, through the Spirit of Christ, cry for pure grace and reconciliation.
100. The apostle places a Hebrew word in apposition with a Greek word; he says Abba, Pater (Father). In the Hebrew, Abba means "father"; hence the prelates in certain cloisters are called "abbots." In former times the holy hermits gave their chiefs the name Abba, Father. These terms were introduced also into the Latin and German. Abba, Pater is equivalent to "Father, Father." In full German, Mein Vater, Mein Vater; or Lieber Vater, Lieber Vater-
101. But why does Paul duplicate the word to express the cry of the Spirit? Permit my opinion. In the first place, for the sake of emphasizing the cry. The earnest suppliant frequently makes repetition of his cry. So strenuous must be our appeal and so great our confidence that sin, the cry of Cain, has not power to suppress them.
102. In the second place, it seems to be Scripture usage to indicate certainty and assurance by duplicating words and phrases. Joseph tells King Pharaoh (Gen 41, 32) that by repetition God indicates it is assured and done even as the words teach. So here the Spirit twice cries "Father" to give us the assurance that God is and will be our Father; to make us not only hopeful of great things, but certainly confident.
103. In the third place, the apostle may have purposed to show the Spirit's persistence. The first word, Abba, marks the beginning of the Spirit's cry. But at that point great conflict will arise. The devil will assail us unceasingly and we must persevere. The addition of the word Father so teaches. We must not cease to cry; as we have begun, we are to continue. So doing, we will come to know what confidence is; the utmost assurance will possess us. Paul may also have designed by employing the word Abba, a somewhat unfamiliar Hebrew word, and supplementing it with Father, a native and familiar Greek term (he was addressing the Greeks and wrote in their own language) he may also. have designed to teach that we hardly know the meaning of confidence at the first. But confidence grows with exercise. In time, seemingly it becomes a part of the believer's nature and he feels at home with God his Father.
"So that thou art no more a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through Christ."
104. Christ having come and having been recognized, Pauls says, you are no more a bondservant. As before stated, there is a remarkable difference between a child and a servant. Their dispositions are altogether unlike. The child has freedom and is willing; the servant is constrained and is unwilling. The child is ruled by faith; the servant, by works.
105. Plainly, then, in the sight of God no one by works can accomplish anything toward his salvation. Salvation must be obtained and enjoyed before works are begun. Having salvation, works will follow spontaneously, to the honour of God and to the benefit of our neighbour. They will not be in any wise prompted by fear of punishment or expectation of reward. This is implied in the words: "If a son, then an heir through Christ."
106. Now we have made it sufficiently plain that faith alone, faith before any works are done and without them, constitutes us children. If it makes us children, it makes us heirs; a child is an heir. When the inheritance is already possessed, can it be first secured through works? It is an inconsistent conclusion that the inheritance bequeathed through grace is already possessed, and at the same time is still to be sought and obtained first through works and merits, as if it were not present or not given. The inheritance is simply eternal salvation. We have frequently asserted that through baptism and faith the Christian instantaneously possesses all, but does not yet behold it visibly. He possesses it only in faith, for in this life he could not bear the open manifestation of such blessings. As Paul
says (Rom 8, 24-
107. For this reason, the Christian ought not to be influenced, like a servant, by a desire to secure advantage for himself, but by a longing to benefit others in their need. Truly, he must live and act, not for himself, but for his neighbour here on earth. So doing, he will most assuredly live and work for God. Through faith he has sufficient for himself; he is rich, well filled and happy for ever.
108. Paul adds "through Christ" to avoid the implication that the inheritance is bestowed upon us without any merit or cost whatever. Although it costs us nothing, and although it is bestowed without merit on our part, yet Christ was placed under great obligations. For the sake of that inheritance he was put under the Law for us; he paid the cost to secure, or to merit, the inheritance for all who believe in him. When we confer an unmerited favour upon a neighbour, it costs him nothing. But what we bestow on him freely, of our pure goodness, as Christ bestows blessings upon us, costs us labour and substance.
109. The unlearned may be somewhat confused by Paul's assertion that men are no longer servants, but children, and when the fact is, there are few believers in Christ, few children, while the world is filled with heretics and Cain-
110. In this manner Paul calls the Galatians again from the teachers who had led them back to the Law and its works. Similarly, the Pope with his foolish laws has for a long time misled the people through his bishops, priests and monks, and has exterminated the Christian faith-