Martin Luther - Lesson 14

The Promise of the Sacraments

The sacraments are an external expression of an internal reality.

Gordon Isaac
Martin Luther
Lesson 14
Watching Now
The Promise of the Sacraments

The Promise of the Sacraments

Luther, the Pastor: Mark 16


The tension between the theology of the cross and glory.

God reveals himself in the stuff of earth.

Luther on word and sacrament: a little foreign to our evangelical ears.

Perceptions of Luther:

hero of the faith

not finished with the reformation, too close to Catholics

Luther stands alone on sacraments removed from Catholics and Anabaptists.


I. The Sixteenth Century Context

A. Peter Lombard - Most popular theological text of the middle ages

B. Sacraments of the New Law - 7 sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Unction, Eucharist, Orders, Marriage, Penance

C. Remedy against sin, assisting grace.

Lull pg. 527-528 - Luther breaks with his 16th century context.


II. The movement is from God to Man

A. The definition of a Sacrament as a sign plus the Word.

1. "Baptism is nothing but the word of Christ in water..."

2. Lull pg. 484

B. The receiving of a Sacrament is a receiving of God's action.

C. It is properly used in faith

Elaboration of the movement of God to man.

1. Words of institution

2. Words of consecration - origin of hocus pocus (hoc est corpus meum, this is my body spoken to the elements. Luther said let's speak this to the people instead.


III. The Sacraments keep the Word from Disappearing into the Inner Life

God always deals with us in the external and this confirms an inner reality.

Discussion of Carlstadt's notion of remembrance being an internal focus.

Smalcald Articles Part III, Article VIII - All this is the old devil and the old serpent who made enthusiasts of Adam and Eve....

Theology is for Proclamation - Ferde

Luther's Debate w/ Carlstadt

Book of Concord 440, 28 Part 4 on Baptism "Our know-it-alls, the new spirits, assert that faith alone saves and that works and external things contribute nothing to this end..."

A. The Fall is enticement away from the external Word to subjectivity.

B. The Sacraments stand as guard against this subjectivity.

C. They are an attack on the Old Adam.

What we find is that Luther's view is:

1. tied into the theology of the cross

2. the words of institution

3. movement from God to Man

4. external tie between Spirit and the Word. These are not separate.

  • Dr. Isaacs summarizes the course objectives and lists the recommended textbooks.
  • Luther expressed his views in a way that was shaped by his theology and the culture.

  • Martin Luther was born in Germany in the late 15th century, just after Guttenberg developed his printing press.

  • When Martin Luther posted the 95 theses, his intention was to discuss and debate the misuse of indulgences, but it was interpreted by the church heirarchy as an attack on the power of the papacy.

  • Luther's writings demonstrate his ability to understand and articulate issues that are at the core of the nature of God and man. His theology is distinct from philosophy and consists of many comments on passages in Psalms and Romans.

  • Faith alone justifies. By faith the Christian is made to love God, therefore a person does good works because they cannot remain idle.

  • The work of Christ when he allowed himself to be crucified on the cross, teaches us about God's nature, our nature and our relationship to God.

  • Luther's fourfold sense of scripture focused on historical (literal), allegorical (figurative), tropological (moral), and anagogic (future).

  • Luther's view of the atonement differs from classical views taught during his time and view held by the scholastic tradition.

  • Luther's teaching on justification by faith is central to his theology.

  • Theology of the cross assumes bondage and moves to freedom.

  • Four positions on predestination include the Calvinist, neo-Protestant, intuitu fidei, and Gnesio-Lutherans.

  • Luther's commentary on Galatians is an attempt to set "Law" in its proper setting.

  • The sacraments are an external expression of an internal reality.

  • Luther's teachings on the importance of baptism and arguments for infant baptism.

  • Luther's view of the theological and personal significance of the Lord's Supper.

  • The kingdom of God and secular government have areas of unity and areas of differences.

  • Luther gives a definition of the church and describes characteristics of the church.

  • Luther developed a catechism to help people focus on the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith.

  • Martin Luther's writings can encourage people to pursue their relationship with God on a deeper level.

This course is an introduction to the life and writings of the great German reformer, Martin Luther. There are 20 lectures totaling approximately 18 hours. These lectures were given at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.

Dr. Gordon Isaac
Martin Luther
The Promise of the Sacraments
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:02] It's our custom in this class to begin with, a reading from Scripture and from Luther and and then join in prayer. So that's how we'll start out today as well. Mark Chapter 16 versus 15 and 16 reading the following manner. And he said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned. This is a strict command. If people want to be saved, let them be baptized. Otherwise, they are in God's disfavor. Therefore, these words are in the first place too strict, earnest, divined command. Hence you cannot hold the opinion that baptism is a human invention or any kind of command or thing, such as putting a wreath on one's head. It is God's command. Consequently, you must esteem baptism as something high, glorious and excellent. For here there is a divine word and command which institutes and confirms baptism. Certainly when the devil sees baptism and hears the words sounding to him, it is like a bright sun and he will not stay there. And when a person is baptized for the sake of the Word of God, which is in it, there is a veritable oven glow. Do you think it was a joke that the heavens were opened at Christ's baptism? Say, therefore, that baptism is water in God's Word comprehended in one Take the word away and it is the same water with which the maid waters the cow, but with the word. It is a lively and living, wholly divine water.

[00:02:09] Those who consider the words will be saved in Mark 16 will find salvation, for with his words will be saved. Christ put salvation into baptism. Therefore, it is impossible that there should be simple water when through it. Salvation. Forgiveness of sins and redemption from death. And the devil is given. Let's pause for prayer. Almighty God, our dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that you have ordained baptism to be a part of our Christian life and walk. And we pray that we might esteem our own individual baptisms. And so use them properly in faith so that the old Adam might daily be drowned and that the new life of faith be raised up in Christ Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen. Okay, well, we're coming down to the last few weeks in our semester. And as is the way of things, these last few weeks have a way of intensifying in some manner. What we've been at all along, and one of the things we've tried to do is we've tried to establish the theology of the cross as Luther's methodology and his starting point. The theology of the cross is not a theology of speculation where we try to imagine what God is up to in heaven, but rather the theology of glory understands that God reveals himself in the things of this Earth and indeed in the person, especially in the personal work of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross. So it's there that we come to discover who God is. Now then, as we approach this question of the sacraments, there is perhaps before us some of the most difficult reading in Luther. And it's difficult not because he's hard to understand necessarily, although there may be a point or two that he is subtle in a way that our 21st century thinking isn't.

[00:04:25] But it's most difficult because it's precisely here that Luther is less well known, and it's precisely here that Luther differs from or presents a great challenge for those of us in evangelical traditions. Let me just share with you a chapter in my own personal history In reading Luther. When I was at Western Evangelical Seminary, there was some discussion of holiness theology, and it was then that I began to read Luther, and it was in the course of answering some of the questions related with that particular doctrine that Luther really became a partner in dialog. When it came time for me to to take my degree at the seminary, I decided to write a thesis on Luther because he'd been so very helpful. And I decided I'd do a little bit of writing on Word and Sacrament. I discovered it was not easy reading, and I discovered a strange and foreign voice, and I scratched my head over this material and struggled with it. Read it two or three times before I could really wrap my head around it. And so I want to encourage you, as you're reading Luther, in this area of baptism in the Lord's Supper, to give it a chance to settle in and sink in. It's kind of like reading Bondage of the Will for the first time and thinking you've got all the arguments down. Reading Luther on Word in Sacrament on Baptism in the Lord's Supper takes a little while to to to grasp and to allow your mind to wrap around it. So. So gave Luther a little bit of chance here. Now then it might be interesting just to to ask ask yourself in all of this. Well now what do I understand about Luther and his understanding of baptism and the Lord's Supper before I even come to his reading or his his writings on the matter? I think if you were to poll most evangelicals, they would say, well, you know, Luther's a pretty good guy.

[00:06:28] After all, he did stand up against Roman Catholicism and the abuses of the 16th century. And it's this that we know him for. He's this wonderful hero of the faith, posting the 95 theses and leading the charge, as it were, that leads to to the Protestantism that we have become heirs to. But what one might also hear in polling evangelicals is you might hear, well, you know, Luther just kind of he didn't complete his reformation. He stays too close to the Catholics on these very important issues of baptism and the Lord's Supper. And so he just doesn't complete his reformation. And that actually is some of the complaint that's registered against Luther in the area of his sacramental teaching. But I want to suggest to you today that Luther's understanding of baptism in the Lord's Supper, first of all, dominated by his his methodology, the theology of the cross. For those of you who have been in the class for the semester, you're probably starting to get a handle on that. And secondly, I would like to say this Luther stands as far removed from the Roman Catholic understanding of both baptism and the Lord's Supper, as he does from the Anabaptist and the enthusiast traditions on the other side. And this is why I find Luther absolutely fascinating and a wonderful partner in dialog in order to sharpen our thinking with respect to both Baptism and Lord's Supper. So what we'll need to do is try this out a bit and see how we go. And in order to in order to make our case this morning, what I'd like to do is take you back a little bit to the 16th century context. You must understand that Luther was heir to a tremendous tradition and heritage with respect to baptism in the Lord's Supper.

[00:08:26] There had been a lot of discussion about this in the early church in the Middle Ages. And so he was heir to that. As a matter of fact, the most widely used textbook of theology in the Middle Ages and at the beginning of the 16th century was written by a fellow by the name of Peter Lombard. Peter Lombard and the sentences. And in this book, Peter Lombard took up the issue of the sacraments. And he does so by way of a number of different categories. And Peter sets forward his understanding. Primarily, he is saying that the sacraments are of the new law. Now, we left off last time talking about the distinction between law and gospel. And one of the things we said is that this understanding of law and gospel Luther's working with, he's trying to understand Saint Paul in terms of two ages, the age now and the age yet to come. And so Luther's thinking is conditioned by this two age thinking that he sees in Paul. And this is true of long gospel. He says law has a particular time when it rules. Law speaks to us. It accuses us of our sin. And when the gospel comes, a new thing starts. The new. We are actually brought into the new age because we now are incorporated into Christ. And when you begin to think in terms of the sacraments, Luther, you can imagine then that Luther's not too happy with talking about sacraments of the new law, because Luther understands that in Christ the law comes to an end and the Gospel is the new thing which God is doing to save humanity. Now, it's interesting that in the medieval church they talk about the sacraments of the new law, and Peter Lombard speaks of it in this way.

[00:10:25] He says, Now let us approach the sacraments of the new law, which are baptism confirmation, the bread of blessing that is the Eucharist, Penance, extreme unction orders and marriage. Peter Lombard talks about seven sacraments. And actually there was nothing particularly holy about the number seven, although they they did a little bit of work with with that complete number. But actually, there were other authors in the Middle Ages who set forward as many as 13 sacraments. So it just kind of depends on who you read in terms of the Middle Ages, how many sacraments they spoke of. But by the 16th century, these seven were rather basic. Once again, you have baptism confirmation and you see, well, we won't we won't get off on that. But anyway, you've got baptism, you've got confirmation, you've got the Eucharist, you have penance, you have extreme unction orders and marriage. Now, Peter Lombard says of these, some provide a remedy against sin and confer. Assisting grace such as baptism and others are only a remedy such as marriage. Other strengthen us with grace and power, such as the Eucharist and orders. So Peter Lombard sets forward the seven sacraments and he says, you know, some really are a remedy against sense. You know, if you have the Apostle Paul says, you know, it's better to get married than to burn with lust. And so marriage is a sacrament in the Roman Catholic understanding of things precisely because it is a remedy against the sin of lust. And it puts you in a relationship in which the natural desires that the sexual desires that God has placed within human beings can be appropriately and adequately expressed. So here you've got Peter Lombard speaking about the sacraments in this way. Seven Sacraments.

[00:12:34] Some are a remedy against sin. Some are with assisting grace. Now, it's an interesting context in which then Luther's beginning to work with his own understanding of the sacraments and begins to spin out his own understanding of things. And I was noticing that in Llull we have some texts that help us with this. And let me have you turn. Those of you who are regular members of the class will have a copy, and those of you who aren't, you'll just have to suffer along as we read. But there is a section here on the small called Articles on page 527. I want to direct your attention to that passage because there we have this interesting little bit that will give us insight into into what Luther's doing with some of these these different theories about baptism current in his 16th century timeframe. Page 527 In law, the small called articles were written in 1537 toward the end of Luther's life. Actually, he was anticipating he was anticipating a council being called by the church so that they could iron out some of the abuses and some of the stuff that was going on at the time. Well, it didn't happen in Luther's lifetime, but nonetheless, he was ready with the small called articles, in case it was called. His presentation of the faith is included here, but notice the bottom of the page in the section on baptism. Baptism is nothing else than the word of God in water commanded by the institution of Christ, or, as Paul says, the washing of water with the word. Or again, as Augustine puts it. The word is added to the element and it becomes a sacrament. Therefore, therefore, we do not agree with Thomas and the Dominicans who forget the word God's institution and say that God has joined the water, a spiritual power which through the water washes away sin.

[00:14:42] Let's just stop there for a moment. He's talking about Thomas Aquinas and he's talking about and the Dominican order. The Dominicans were it was a preaching order. And notice what Thomas is saying. He's saying, look, Thomas says that God has joined in the water of spiritual power. Which when received by the participant. It washes away sin. And actually they believed that original sin was washed away in baptism. Yeah, They believed the original sin was washed away in baptism. So that if as a good Roman Catholic later on in life you fell into one sin or another, which you know is inevitable, that you would need to avail yourself of the next sacrament, namely that of penance which was referred to as the second plank, kind of like before the days of life savers or Life preservers. You know, the second plank, you could, you know, rest on the water. So you're moving along in the arc of your baptism. You fall out of the ark and then you need to get back to the ship. To do so. You need the second plank. That's the imagery that was used then in the Middle Ages. And the theological formulation was precisely that original sin was overcome. All the was left in you once you received baptism was the the tinder the the foam is the stuff out of which sin resulted. Okay. So that's Saint Thomas. Now let's move on. Nor do we agree with SCOTUS and the Franciscans who teach that baptism washes away sin through the assistance of the divine will, as if the washing takes place only through God's will and not at all through the water, through the Word and the water. So on the other hand, Luther is is fighting against SCOTUS and the Franciscans, who in some ways are minimalists with respect to what needs to be done in order to be assured of salvation.

[00:16:56] So here in this little paragraph, you find Luther fighting against his own 16th century context, which had begun to see the sacraments in terms of providing grace. And that grace was seen as something behind the scenes. It was some power or force. Now we'll find that in Luther Grace is something altogether different. It's not a secret substance that's provided behind the scenes, kind of like gas for your spiritual gas tank or something like that. No, for Luther. Grace is the flat out unconditional declaration. You are saved because of what Christ has done. It is a proclamation. It is the words spoken on a Sunday morning at the time of the sermon. And we'll find also and here we begin to to see what Luther's about. Luther understands the sacraments as being sacraments of the Word of God. So he understands that baptism and the Lord's Supper parallel what's going on in the preached word. So here we find Luther Breaking Company with 16th century, with the 16th century context. Now, one of the fascinating things that you find if you read the sentences and the entirety of the sentences, is not translated into English at this point, although there is a selection of it in the Law Library of Christian Classics, that is has been translated. One of the fascinating things to me is that nowhere will you find an exposition of the Lord's Supper on the basis of the words of institution. This is where Luther really does some of his best work. Luther begins to deal with. The understanding of baptism in the Lord's Supper on the basis of the word. So when you read through Luther's writings on Word and Sacrament, you'll find him saying again and again, The only way for us to understand baptism is to understand what God's Word says about baptism.

[00:19:18] The only way we can understand its true meaning for our lives is to hear what Scripture has recorded for us on this matter. And so one of the things that he does again and again over and over throughout his writing ministry is teaching ministry is preaching. Ministry is to point always and only to the person and work of Christ as it's recorded for us in holy writ. So Luther keeps coming back again and again. He just hammers away at this topic. He says, You know, Peter Lombard, it's not very helpful. Because he interprets the Lord's Supper in terms of some kind of allegory. Peter Lombard is not a particularly good theologian because he does not give us a clear exposition of Scripture. On the matter of baptism. Now how are we going to be certain about what baptism is all about if we don't know what the Word of God says? And so this is what Luther does. He talks about the definition of a sacrament as a sign, plus the word sign, plus the word. Now, even here in this little section in the small called articles, he says this baptism has nothing else than the word of God in water come commanded by the institution of Christ, or, as Paul says, the washing of water with the word. Now, we actually have another instance where Luther's really quite clear on this in the law. If you have your copy of law with you turn to page 484 and we have the small catechism that shows us what he's up to. The small catechism. The small catechism was written in 1529 Luther, and the reformers in Wittenberg set out several groups of visitation committees, as it were, and they went out to visit to see what was going on in the churches out there.

[00:21:19] And what they found was appalling. They found that some of the pastors were illiterate, didn't really know how to read, said many of the people. They just lived like barbarians. They came to the sacrament. They came to worship service, but they didn't know the Ten Commandments. They didn't know the Lord's Prayer. There was a great deal of ignorance. And so Luther says, Oh, man, we've got to do something about this. And so he wrote the small catechism in 1529, very concise presentation of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Sacraments, baptism, the Lord's Supper, and also the Keys. We won't talk about that today unless you bring it up in form of question. But those are the things that Luther talks about in the small catechism. Now, here on page 44, you have his very brief exposition of baptism. Notice how he's he always moves back to the word. This is the first question. What is baptism? Answer Baptism is not merely water, but it is water used according to God's command and connected with God's Word. Actually, if you read that in the German, it, the term that's used there is to comprehend baptism is the word of God comprehended in the water. Very interesting little phrase. What is this word of God? Answer as recorded in Matthew 28, our Lord Christ said, Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son of the Holy Spirit. So this is one text clear that shows that we are to go out and to baptize. Second, what gifts or benefits does baptism bestow? And sir, it affects forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and grants eternal salvation to all who believe as the word and promise of God declare.

[00:23:17] Now, what is this word and promise of God? Answer As recorded in March 16, our Lord Christ said He, who believes and is baptized, will be saved, but he, who does not believe, will be condemned. And so Luther is coming back once again to this issue of the word. What does the word say? And he is building up his argument for his understanding of of baptism. Now, it sounds rather different than perhaps most of our traditions, doesn't it? Don't worry. We'll get to that in a little bit. But this is Luther. We need to understand what Luther is doing. First of all, he's trying to understand the sacrament of baptism, according to God's word. Third, how can water produce such great effects? Answer It is not the water that produces these effects, but the word of God connected with the water and our faith, which relies on the Word of God connected with the water for without the Word of God, that water is merely water and no baptism. But when connected with the Word of God, it is a baptism that is a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit. As Saint Paul wrote to Titus. He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. The saying is sure. Now we come to the fourth and last question. What does such baptizing with water signify? Answer It signifies that the old Adam in us, together with all sins and evil lusts, should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance and be put to death.

[00:25:09] That the new man should come forth daily and rise up, cleansed and righteous to live forever in God's presence. Where is this written? Romans six. Saint Paul wrote We were buried there for with him by baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. So Luther, in his attempts to set forward his understanding of baptism, claims that it is absolutely critical, absolutely important, that we get on with the business of understanding what the text of Scripture has to say. Further, he says that the receiving of a sacrament is the receiving of God's action in the larger catechism. Luther says. Thus, you see plainly that baptism is not a work which we do, but is a treasure which God gives us. And faith grasps just as the Lord Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended and offered to us in the word and receive by faith. Therefore, they are unfair when they cry out against us as though we preach against faith. Actually, we insist on faith alone as so necessary that without it nothing can be received or enjoyed. Perhaps this is one place where many of our traditions differ from this kind of reformation point of view. I remember when I was growing up in the church. What we used to say is that such and so is going to be baptized today and Pastor Smith is going to do that. And they're following Jesus in the waters of baptism. And in the tradition that I come from, we call baptism, an ordinance, an ordinance you might recognize as a law. Interesting for those of you who've been here for a discussion of law and gospel and an ordinance is something that you do in order to fulfill a command so that in many of our evangelical traditions, baptism is the outward sign of an internal change which has already taken place.

[00:27:24] Okay, that's see some of you nodding your head, as you understand. For some of you, that's the case. For those of you who are Presbyterians, that's probably not the case. You heard a little something else when you were growing up. But you begin to see how very different this reformation of point of view is. You see in the tradition that I come from, what's emphasized is your having decided for Jesus coming to faith stance. And then as a consequence of that, being baptized. And actually, when the when the pastor would take the the person being baptized into the water, he would say, based on the confession of your faith, I baptize you in the name of the father son. The Holy Spirit. Okay. You see how dramatically different Luther is than that? Don't you? Luther does not operate on the paradigm of the free will. And he does not operate on the understanding that it is the confession of our faith, which validates baptism. But it is rather he would say that baptism is actually God's working on us. It's not that we, in the context of the congregation, are saying, Yes, I see that Jesus is Lord and Savior, that he died for me. Yes, I believe that He is Lord. I've come to faith and therefore I'm I am following after him the waters of baptism, therefore declaring to the rest of the community that I am a Christian. But rather what Luther is saying, No, baptism is really God's action and work on the individual. What's what? What Luther wants to emphasize is simply this What's happening in baptism is actually God's action. So baptism is the perfect expression of Luther's conviction. With respect to the bondage of the will, our wills are bound.

[00:29:20] We can only sin. We cannot save ourselves. Therefore, it takes a unilateral action of God to come and redeem us. And that's what happens in baptism. Person is in. In Luther's time, no doubt sprinkling was more or less the mode which was which was done. And also in terms of understanding the historical setting here, we need to recognize this is not always just a theological issue, but it's also a sociological and an historical situation. Have to recognize that in the 16th century, just about everybody was baptized. Society itself was called the Corpus Christi Channel, the Body of Christ. And so it actually and we touched on this earlier on the semester, didn't we, that baptismal records were the way in which they kept the census counts for the particular counties and the areas that represented population for the the elector of one sort or another. So you see there's a very specific kind of context here. The vast majority of baptisms that took place in Luther's time were infants. So what Luther is saying is that really baptism is something which God does. The pastor is simply instrumental. And what he's saying is that it is it is the action of the of God on behalf of this individual to which the word of God is being spoken. And what's the word? The word that's incorporated in this word of God. And you can you can read it there in the small catechism, but the essence of it is this God is speaking to the person being baptized and saying, I love you. I always have, and I promise to drive all sin from your life, bring you whole and complete into the kingdom. That's my promise to you. And this is the sign of the promise.

[00:31:19] Baptism in. And with that water is the word. And that's my promise to you that I will succeed where you're weak. Human will cannot succeed. And I choose to bring you into the kingdom. That's what Luther sees as going on in baptism. A strong and powerful word very different than much of our own evangelical traditions. And that's really it seems to me this is one of the places where much of modern Protestantism that does not know Luther well is separated from what we would call a reformation, all understanding of, first of all, bondage, the will, and secondly, the nature of baptism. We've not yet gotten to the Lord's Supper, but if you understand what he's doing in baptism, then you'll understand also what he begins to do in the Lord's Supper as well. Okay. Now then, this is all very provocative, isn't it? Well, you know, when you begin to read these things and when you begin to read theologians from an earlier era that have a different point of view, isn't it challenging? Because then you say, well, but but, you know, what was I taught in church when I was growing up and what have I always believed? And that's precisely why we need to come to seminary. You may ultimately not end up agreeing with Luther, but if for a moment of time you can suspend your judgment and begin to think with him about his understanding of the nature of the gospel, it will enrich your own proclamation and your own understanding of the nature of the tradition that we are receiving as the people of God. Christianity has a broad, a broad continuum, and there are all kinds of sorts that make up this church that comes to us all the way from what Luther would say is the Synagogue of Faith down to the present.

[00:33:15] And, you know, it really is a fascinating process. Sometimes it's a little unsettling, but that's okay. I think we need to have that happen for us. Okay. So we have this very interesting thing. Now notice this heading The movement is from God to man. Let me just elaborate on this for a quick moment or two. Particularly in the Lord's Supper, this becomes an issue. And in our reading for today, one of the pieces that you wrestled with, the Babylonian captivity of the church. And there, interestingly enough, Luther begins to set out the problem with the Lord's Supper in the 16th century, says, you know, the Lord's Supper in the 16th century was dominated by the canon of mass. And in the midst of the canon of the mass, the priest, after consecrating the elements and the elevation, and then there's a little bell that rings on the side. And for those of us in New England, where Roman Catholicism is very strong, some of us know some of these things from, you know, having conversation with friends or maybe experiencing Roman Catholic worship or whatever. But after the elevation of the consecration of the elements in the canon of the mass, the priest would say something to the effect of, Please, the Lord, accept these our gifts, and may they be pleasing unto you. The verbiage, the terminology is as such words on the part of the priest by which God is going to be appeased. His wrath will be assuaged and God will therefore be placated. A wrathful God. We, as you know, or as the priest on behalf of the people, makes the sacrifice, the bloodless reenactment of the sacrifice of Christ to God on behalf of the congregation. And Luther says, you know, that just isn't really what's going on in the Lord's Supper at all.

[00:35:14] Notice the movement. The Roman Catholic tradition, the 16th century, particularly as they saw it as the sacrifice of the mass. The movement is from the priest to God. The movement is from man to God. That's the direction that the Lord's Supper was offered in. Luther says, No, the movement is not. The movement is from well, the movement is not from man to God. The movement is from God to man. It is, after all, the Lord's Supper. And what does the Lord do in the supper? He says, This is my body given for you, for the forgiveness of sins. So Luther begins to understand the Lord's Supper, not as a sacrifice we give to God, but rather as the embodied word which is presented to the living congregation. Altogether different movement now than in the words of consecration. What happens? The words of institution are spoken to the elements hocus corpus mayhem. And the priest used to mumble that. And that's how we get our little phrase hocus pocus. They couldn't understand what the priests were saying. Hocus corpus mayhem. It's the Latin. This is my body. And the people couldn't hear it. It was it was almost inaudible. But the priest would say it to the elements so that the elements would be transferred, trance substantiated into the body and blood of Christ. And Luther says, you know, this is a strange thing, isn't it? Wouldn't it be better if the words were spoken to the people for whom they were intended? They don't need to be spoken to the elements, but they need to be spoken to the people because those are the ones who need to hear that word for. Faith needs an object. Faith needs an object. You know, sometimes in the evangelical church, we talk about faith, and sometimes I'm not sure we talk about it in a very clear way.

[00:37:09] Faith is kind of this attitude that we have. We you know, we come to the place where we believe that God is really for us. We believe that we've really chosen Jesus or something else. Now, Faith, you see, for Luther is attached to the word word, the word of promise. Can only be perceived and received in faith. And faith, on the other hand, needs something to cling to. And that is the word. So in the Lord's Supper, he says, it's not what we offer to God that's important. It's rather what God offers to us. And it is the word This is my body given for you, for the forgiveness of sins. This is my blood shed for you, for the remission sins. So that's the movement that Luther identifies here. So there's something radical you see going on with Luther. He's really not very Roman Catholic at all. And if you begin to check the the Council of Trent, you begin to see the formulation of the Lord's Supper there. It's just decidedly and radically different than what Luther is about. Luther is interested in an evangelical understanding of the sacraments, both Baptism and the Lord's Supper, which is dominated by the theology, the cross, and it is oriented toward what God is attempting to do in your life and in my life. Preaching is an attempt to get to us so that instead of being faithless people wandering and doing our own thing, we come in the right relationship with God in like manner. The sacrament is a sacrament of the Word of God so that the word might reside in us. Okay. Now then, why does Luther do this stuff? Let's just give this a bit of theological reflection here for a moment, and we'll see if we can help out here and not do any harm.

[00:39:01] The sacraments keep the word from disappearing into the inner life. You see, one of the one of the things that's going on here and one of the problems that we as religious creatures have is that. If the religious project turns inward, there is no ending that inward journey. The inner life is a big black hole and it will take stuff into itself and it will never come to certainty or resolve. And Luther would say that the sacrament is instituted by Christ precisely so that it will be an external matter that is possible to be grasped by faith. We have the spoken word, the preached word that goes into our ears. Fine. But we also need this sacramental word as an external sign of what's God of what God is doing. Luther points out in several places in his writings that God always uses signs in in working with human beings. For example, Noah, He gives Noah the promise, I will never destroy the earth through water again. And he gives the sign and attaches it the rainbow of the calling of Moses, for example. He calls Moses, but he uses a burning bush. There's a sign and evidence of what he's doing there. There are any number of other examples that one could give throughout Scripture. God always deals with us by means of the external first, the external word by external signs. And then it goes to the inner source. If we only have the inner the inward life, then we can never be absolutely certain of it. And that was one of his beefs against someone like Carl Start college. That said that the real meaning of the Lord's Supper was your proper remembrance of it. If you have a passionate and lively remembrance of the fact that Christ died on the cross and that he won salvation for us.

[00:41:19] That's the true central meaning of the Lord's Supper. That's what gives it validity. See where we're going. But how do you know if you have a fully passionate, lively remembrance of of what Christ did? What if you go to church on Sunday and you feel kind of flat? What if it's been a heck of a week? You've been battered around by all kinds of, you know, assignments from your crazy professors, you know, and your wife is, you know, nagging at you or your husband's treating you badly. What if, you know, things just aren't going very good and you go to church service and say, you know, I want to hear the word of grace. I want to be a good Christian, but you just don't have any feelings. What does a good remembrance mean? You see what happens. It becomes an inward journey. There's no certainty. How much passion do I have to generate for this to be a proper remembrance? Do this in remembrance of me. That's what caused that Said, that's. This is the meaning of the Lord's Supper. Do this in remembrance of me. But what happens to the Lord's Supper? If that's the case, then the Lord's Supper becomes the religious exercise or the religious fervor that I can bring to that moment. And Luther says, Time out. No, no, it's not my supper, but it's the Lord's Supper. And he wants to speak a word to me. So the sacraments keep the word from disappearing into the inner life. If we see the fall as an enticement away from the external word to subjectivity. Got a great quote for you here. And this is actually found in small called articles, which you have in your Lord, but I've printed it so those you don't have Lawler now for the first time in luck here.

[00:43:02] What he says is this Look, the whole business of the bound will, the whole business of our religious exercise is that it makes us enthusiasts and enthusiasm is simply another word for God within ISM. We believe that we really know what spiritual right and true, and so we go seeking it. And that becomes an inward journey that we fulfill on the basis of what we perceive to be proper action. Luther is saying, no, the true essence of religion is to hear God's Word, to hear him speaking to us first, and then we respond to him. It's not our search for God, but it's rather God speaking to us directly to call us into a communion with Him. This is what he says in small called articles. All this is the old devil in the old serpent who made enthusiasts of Adam and Eve. He led them from the external word of God to spiritualism and to their own imaginations. Now, here he's calling on this this this narrative that we have in Genesis of Adam and Eve. God tells them, Thou shalt not eat of the tree, of the knowledge of good and evil, but they violate the Word of God. They turn away from the Word of God and they proceed to name good and evil for themselves. This is what's good. This is what's evil. And so they come to a knowledge of good and evil. But it's their own idea of what it is. They move away from the external word of God to spiritual and their own imaginations. In short, enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendants from the beginning to the end of the world. It is a poison implanted and inoculated in Man by the Old Dragon, and it is the source, strength and power of all heresy, including that of the papacy and Muhammad ism.

[00:44:51] Accordingly, we should and must and must constantly maintain that God will not deal with us except through His external word and sacrament. Whatever is attributed to the Spirit, apart from such word and sacrament, is of the devil. This gives you insight into what Luther is about and how he's proceeding. Also, a part of the history of this is Luther's having to fight against a group of theologians led by Andreas from Kallstadt, who claim that what you need to do in order to prepare yourself for God's grace is to place yourself in an attitude of yielded ness. Glasson height. That's where your soul becomes calm and peaceful. There is no noise from your own thoughts, and you then become an open vessel for the Holy Spirit. And so, in essence, what Carl Shot was saying is we need to wait for the spirit, and the Spirit will inform us. So the battle cry for Karlstad and those who followed after him was the spirit. The Spirit and Luther, in his usual caustic manner, said, the Spirit said, Oh, slap that spirit of yours on his snout. Obviously, Luther didn't think it was the Holy Spirit, and he says, No, not the Spirit. The spirit, but the word. The word. That's what's important. So you see what he's up against here and how he describes this whole movement. He can he can say that that the papacy, that all heresy is a result of this moving away from the external word, moving away from this external word of God is what produces this. So you see, when Luther is talking about the sacraments, he's really setting forward an understanding of things that is fighting against this impulse to fight against the external world. The sacrament is embedded in the preached word of God, and the two go together.

[00:46:59] And that's why this formulation is so critically important for reformation theology. Word and sacrament. That's the basis of ministry, because that's the heart and the essence of what pastoral ministry, from a reformation point of view is all about. Word and sacrament. Okay, questions on this. It's a wild little, little piece, isn't it? I also want to recommend to your reading there are a couple of little pieces. Luther's battle, of course. This is great stuff that gets on some of this point. There's a great little section in this this little piece toward the end, Gerhard Theologies for Proclamation, in which he sets forward some pretty interesting stuff on this whole question in in his little treatment on this. What Ferdie says is that the devil is a master of subjectivity. The devil, however, can do nothing about the alien word that comes from outside of us, the visible intangible word. It has simply happened and nothing can change that as such. It is a part and parcel of the proclamation and must be preached against all objection. This is an amusing incident from the television series All in the Family illustrates the point when Michael protests at Archie's conniving to have the baby baptized. Archie retorts, What's the matter? You were baptized, weren't you? Yes, Michael replies. But I renounce my baptism. You can't do that, Archie says. You can renounce your belly button, but it won't go away. Archie was a better theologian than most on that point. It has happened. It is a word from without. It sticks. Nothing can change that. It will not be manipulated by our internal ality. No doubt that is what rankles us as old beings. It is a part of the offense. But the point is that if we can do nothing about it, so also the devil can do nothing about it.

[00:49:05] And in the end, it may be our last line of defense. Who? Think of that. So you see, what Luther's attempting to do is he's attempting to say that it's external expression as baptism in the Lord's Supper is precisely what our faith needs to cling to. And there's another great little quotation that comes from the Book of Concord and the fourth part on the on baptism. Notice what it says here is. Our know it alls. The new spirits assert that faith alone saves and that works, and external things contribute nothing. To this end, we answer It is true. Nothing that is in us does it but faith. But these leaders of the blind are unwilling to see that faith must have something to believe, something to which it may cling and upon which it may stand. Thus, faith clings to the water and believes it to be baptism, in which there is sheer salvation in life, not through the water. As we have sufficiently stated, but through its incorporation with God's Word and ordinance and the joining of His name to it. When I believe this, what else is it but believing in God as the one who has implanted his word in this external ordinance and offered it to us so that we may grasp the treasure it contains. So it's the externality of the word sealed by the sacraments, which saves us from the threat of the hidden agenda. The idea that there is some behind the scenes operation of the spirit upon which we can only wait, some secret grace for which we can only hope and pray. Faith must not be so internalized. The fact that we are saved by faith alone must not be taken to mean that we are saved by a reliance on our own inner resources alone.

[00:51:01] And that's what Luther is trying to set forward here. Faith has got to have something to believe. And so it's precisely in the external nature of the sacrament that we find that operating. This is a very different kind of way of looking at things than most evangelical traditions. But if we're to understand, Luther, we need to understand him here at this point. Finally, we need to see that we see here that the sacraments stand as a guard against subjectivity and against thinking that our Christianity is founded on the exercise of some kind of power within myself. See, that's where subjectivity will get us into big trouble. And where Luther wants to guard against this by means of the external sacraments. Finally, we'd have to say also that these sacraments are an attack on the old Adam. They're an attack on faith. The sacraments are embedded in the proclamation. They are part and parcel of it and should be so proclaimed. The proclaimed word and sacramental word belong inextricably together, where they are driven apart. Both lose their true character and the tie to faith is lost. The sacraments, divorced from the proclaimed word, tend to become magic in the worst sense, quasi physical acts which supposedly work automatically. On the other hand, a proclaimed word without embedded sacrament becomes merely an internal word, a word addressed to one in one's internal ality, which gets lost in the black hole of the self. Furthermore, the divorce between word and sacrament can only lead to gross misunderstanding if there's in general ignorance about the sacraments in our own time. There are some who are saying, You know, really what we need to do is we need to make it just a little bit tougher for folks to come to the Lord's Supper.

[00:53:08] That way they'd make it, you know, take it more seriously, all that kind of thing. Well, you know, there might indeed be room for us to to exercise greater discipline in the administration of the Lord's Supper. But it would be kind of a perverse thing if in our time when people don't understand the sacraments, we would somehow withhold them precisely until such time as they did understand them. So I think there's a real danger in that. What we need to see here is that the sacraments are, in the first instance, really all about killing the old at them, just as the preached word is to put to death the old Adam so that the new life of faith can arise. So the sacraments operate in that same way. And part of the way that they do that is their offense. What you mean to tell me I have to eat a piece of bread and and sip a little bit of wine for my salvation? Well, I think it's a reminder that a terribly physical action on the part of Jesus Christ is precisely what does save us. You know, there's some people that talk about spiritual things and physical things that make a real separation on that. One of the things that happens for us in Baptism in the Lord's Supper, according to Luther, said those two realms come together. Jesus Death in the Cross was a very physical action, but it was the most spiritual thing that he did. And in washing and eating and drinking, these are very earthly, very physical things. And yet they are signs of what happens for us in terms of salvation. Now, obviously, there's much, much more to be said, and this is simply the opening salvo on the issue of the promise of the sacraments.

[00:54:51] No doubt I've created more questions in your minds than I've answered, and that has to be the way it is for right now. But we on the next the next two lectures, the next lecture is going to be on baptism. And we'll focus very specifically on baptism and how Luther handles that question. Also, the question of infant baptism will come up in Luther's theology. The lecture after that will deal very much more specifically with the Lord's Supper and how all of this works. But in order to summarize here in terms of the sacraments, what we find so Luther's view is dominated by the theology of the cross. It's tied in with this methodology. He attempts to move back to the words of institution in order to understand the Lord's Supper and the Word of Scripture to understand baptism. He is attempting to reverse the movement predominant in the 16th century, from man to God to seeing it from God to man. It also is an attempt to establish the fact that God deals with us in externals, first in His external word, before he deals with us in terms of our inward life. I think this has profound implications also for how we understand our relationship to the Spirit. For Luther, there's a tie between Word and Spirit. Spirit doesn't come apart from the word. So there's a very profound tie here.