The Christian life, or sanctification and good works


To begin with, I have said that in addition to the confession which we are discussing here there are two other kinds, which have an even greater right to be called the Christians' common confession. I refer to the practice of confessing to God alone or to our neighbor alone, begging for forgiveness. These two kinds are expressed in the Lord's Prayer when we say, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," etc. Indeed, the whole Lord’s Prayer is nothing else than such a confession. For what is our prayer but a confession that we neither have nor do what we ought and a plea for grace and a happy conscience? This kind of confession should and must take place incessantly as long as we live. For this is the essence of a genuinely Christian life, to acknowledge that we are sinners and to pray for grace. [Martin Luther's Large Catechism, 1529 revised edition, emphasis added. Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.]


Difficulty level: Adult

God and Mammon: Do Not be Anxious by Martin Luther

An Exhortation to Good Works by Martin Luther

The Fruits of Faith by Martin Luther

Christian Revenge by Martin Luther

Glorious Adornment of Christians by Martin Luther | "They exhibit no mercy, but perpetual reproach, censure, condemnation, blame and bluster. They can endure no imperfection. But among Christians many are sinners, many infirm."

Luther on Prayer by David P. Scaer

Lenten Observances by a Commission on Worship of the Lutheran Church of Australia | Includes a Lutheran Litany

Taking The Divine Service Into The Week: Liturgy And Vocation by John T. Pless

A Review of "The Purpose Driven Life" by Christopher Martin

Reflections on the Life of the Royal Priesthood: Vocation and Evangelism by John T. Pless

Sanctification: By Grace Alone by David Scaer

True and False Christ (comment) by David Speers | Excerpt:

...the idea that I have the freedom to go forward in sin is a classic picture of mortal sin. Therefore, the need here is not a preaching of sanctification, but of repentance for the abuse of the Gospel and for rank, deadly sin. The old man, in this case, needs to be put to death, the problem is not one of guidance, strictly speaking...

God, Money, and Why We Don't Enjoy Them by Rev. Cwirla

Pentecost 3 Preachment on Excuses by David M. Juhl | Excerpt:

Ask the people who once sat in these pews. They once tasted the goodness of the Lord. But for one reason or another they aren't here anymore. Each person probably has a good excuse. They have to work. They never get to sleep in two consecutive days. Saturday night Divine Service crimps their nightlife pattern. They need all the free time they can get. So-and-so goes to church there and I don't like so-and-so. All the church wants is my money. I don't want to get involved in the politics of the church. I don't want to be asked to do anything. It's too hard to get my family here every week. Is your excuse among those just mentioned? The Holy Spirit calls you by the Gospel, enlightens you with His Gifts, sanctifies and keeps you in the one true faith with the one, holy, Christian and Apostolic Church. There are 168 hours in a week. Is God asking too much for one hour to dine with Him? There are good excuses why you cannot attend Divine Service. Illness is at the top of the list. But Bears football, Cubs or Sox baseball, fishing, hunting, laziness, or just plain despising the Great Supper for any other manufactured reason are not good excuses.

Lord, Remember Us in Your Kingdom, And Teach Us To Pray by D. Richard Stuckwisch | Excerpt:

Whenever we find ourselves at a loss for words (and St. Paul tells us that we do not even know how to pray as we should [Rom 8:26]), we find our recourse and take refuge in this Prayer taught by our Lord Christ Himself. And even though our hearts and minds are never as pious or as focused as they should be, we can know for a certainty that our lips are here guided by the words of God Himself; and that the Holy Spirit is thus praying with us . . . and so also for us . . . in our sinful weakness.

The Sign of the Cross by Scot Kinnaman

The One Thing Needful: Hearing and Praying the Word of God in the Daily Services of the Church by Paul L. Beisel

The Why and How of Home Altars by Walter Snyder

Difficulty level: Seminary

"The Third Use of the Law," in The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord by theologians of the Augsburg Confession

The Word of God is not rightly divided if the Gospel is preached to such as live securely in their sins by C. F. W. Walther | Excerpt from Luther:

My friends the Antinomians preach exceedingly well - and I cannot but believe that they do so with great earnestness - concerning the mercy of Christ, forgiveness of sin, and other contents of the article of redemption. But they flee from this inference as from the devil, that they must tell the people about the Third Article, of sanctification, that is, of the new life in Christ. For they hold that we must not terrify people and make them sorrowful, but must always preach to them the comfort of grace in Christ and the forgiveness of sin. They tell us to avoid, for God's sake, such statements as these: 'Listen, you want to be a Christian while you are an adulterer, a fornicator, a swill-belly, full of pride, avarice, usurious practises, envy, revenge, malice, etc., and mean to continue in these sins?' On the contrary, they tell us that this is the proper way to speak: 'Listen, you are an adulterer, fornicator, miser, or addicted to some other sin. Now, if you will only believe, you are saved and need not dread the Law, for Christ has fulfilled all.' Tell me, prithee, does not this amount to conceding the premise and denying the conclusion? Verily, it amounts to this, that Christ is taken away and made worthless in the same breath with which He is most highly extolled. It means to say yes and no in the same matter. For a Christ who died for sinners who, after receiving forgiveness, will not quit their sin nor lead a new life, is worthless and does not exist. According to the logic of Nestorius and Eutyches these people, in masterful fashion, preach a Christ who is, and is not, the Redeemer. They are excellent preachers of the Easter truth, but miserable preachers of the truth of Pentecost. For there is nothing in their preaching concerning sanctification of the Holy Ghost and about being quickened into a new fife. They preach only about the redemption of Christ. It is proper to extol Christ in our preaching; but Christ is the Christ and has acquired redemption from sin and death for this very purpose that the Holy Spirit should change our Old Adam into a new man, that we are to be dead unto sin and live unto righteousness, as Paul teaches Rom. 6, 2 ff., and that we are to begin this change and increase in this new life here and consummate it hereafter. For Christ has gained for us not only grace (gratiam), but also the gift (donum) of the Holy Ghost, so that we obtain from Him not only forgiveness of sin, but also the ceasing from sin. Any one, therefore, who does not cease from his sin, but continues in his former evil way must have obtained a different Christ, from the Antinomians. The genuine Christ is not with them, even if they cry with the voice of all angels, Christ! Christ! They will have to go to perdition with their new Christ.

The Word of God is not rightly divided when an attempt is made by means of the demands or the threats or the promise of the Law to induce the unregenerate to put away their sins and engage in good works and thus become godly; on the other hand, when a endeavor is made, by means of the commands of the Law rather than by the admonitions of the Gospel, to urge the regenerate to do good by C. F. W. Walther

Luther on Vocatio: Ordinary Life for Ordinary Saints by Steven A. Hein

Sanctification in Lutheran Theology by David P. Scaer | Excerpt:

If in Lutheran theology, sanctification is the manifestation of the life of Christ in the world, in Calvin's theology the sinner is justified chiefly in order that he may be enabled to honor God through the activity which springs from regeneration. For Luther God loves the sinner for Christ's sake. It is not a question of what God will get for Himself out of His expenditure of redemptive love. For Calvin God moves from the motive of divine sovereignty. God redeems not for the sake of the sinner but for Himself. The question is no longer Luther's, what God can do for man, but what man can do for God. For God there is a type of internal satisfaction in having the sinner turn and repent. Of course, there is also a type of satisfaction when the reprobate are consigned to hell. Damnation and salvation are both satisfying to God. The doctrine of the double predestination is the classical expression of the sovereignty of God. None of this is true for Luther. Luther's famous "for us," so central in his Christology, is ultimately replaced by Calvin by "for God." The real goal is not reinstitution of fallen mankind for its own sake, but for the praise of God. Since the sovereignty of God is the final goal of all of His acts, including redemption, the works have value, not because of their Christological association as in Lutheran theology, but because they are in themselves pleasing to God. In fact, the works have a higher value than the persons performing them. It is a matter of what God can get out of man for Himself. Thus, prayer is particularly important for Calvin since God is glorified by the praises of believers. For Luther prayer is the Christian's recognition of his faith's own helplessness and by prayer he throws himself upon the mercy of God. Consider the phrase "saved to serve." It is proper if it refers to the result of God's redemptive work. If it is understood as His purpose, then this is Calvin's view.

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