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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 

The More Things Change...

My wife and I came across this delightful little treat during our evening devotional after supper.

I am amazed that you have so quickly turned away from that to which you were called through the grace of Christ to another gospel. Galatians 1:6

There you see St. Paul complain how they stumbled and fell from faith so quickly and easily. Therefore he warns and exhorts the Christians here and in other places and says, “Let he that stands be careful that he doesn’t fall.” We also daily encounter what crude and miserable things happen when a human heart wants to grasp and retain faith, or how troublesome it is when one prepares a militant nation for the Lord. If one even had ten whole years with doctrine, exhortation and discipline, he would have his hands full to bring forth a church or congregation in a single place that would run in an orderly and Christian manner. If he finally did pull it off after a great effort, then, afterwards, some unholy fanatic would sneak in, a great course ass who has only the skill to contradict and blaspheme the true preachers, overturning the congregation again. Whose heart would not ache over such a tragedy?
Now by God’s grace we have accomplished. Here in Wittenberg [the church runs] in the manner and form of a true church or Christian congregation, for one preaches the pure gospel and God’s Word, so one uses the Sacrament rightly, one exhorts and prays for all stations in life, etc. In summary, God be praised, it goes well and fine as it should. Yet it is sure that if the profane fanatics could come, those who presently act according to their own traditions, they would ruin it at once and (so to speak) subvert and throw what we have been able to establish in so many years with such great effort into a junk heap, in the twinkling of an eye.
This was encountered by St. Paul, the chosen instrument of God. He had established the congregations in Galatia with great care and work. The false apostles came after he left. In a short time they overturned everything, as this battling epistle, along with the others, also give abundant witness. This, our life on earth, is a totally poor, miserable, weak, uncertain, tenuous thing. So Satan has arranged things everywhere for us, and everywhere he has laid so many trip wires for us that whenever we turn around, a single fanatic overthrows and ruinously tramples what good right and true servants of Christ have produced over a long period of time with great labor day and night. That is what we must (unfortunately) experience at this time with trouble and great heartache. We hold it inside and are unable to help or counsel in such miserable trouble.
For this reason also, since Christianity is such a fragile and tender thing, which is why this happens so quickly and painfully, one must always have a good ready eye out for such fanatics and sectarian spirits. They are so sneaky that they think that when they have heard a sermon or two, or read a pamphlet or two, then they are already accomplished masters over all masters and disciples, even if no one has ordained, called, or sent them. Some uneducated laborers can also be so stupidly bold, and they appraise and understand this great, high, difficult, and dangerous office [the Office of the Holy Ministry] so lightly, that they disregard it even though their whole lives long they [the fanatics] were never in a true trial before God’s wrath and judgment, nor healthy and earnestly terrified, much less had they tasted God’s grace.
But since they are only godless windbags, they teach according to their own opinions what pleases themselves and what the people want to hear. Since the people gladly hear only what is strange and new, such new tricks also please them well and he gathers a swarm in the hive. While they dream that they correctly have the teachings of the Father, and are even practiced in a few afflictions and trials, in this they are drawn and misled by crazy fanatical spirits.

Altb. VI, 547-548 Commentary on Galatians, 1535, cf. AE 26 & 27

Saint Paul wrote his epistle almost 2000 years ago. Dr. Luther commented on St. Paul's epistle almost 500 years ago. And here we are today, in the exact same miserable condition.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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