History Lesson

Daily Reformation, John 1:14-17

From the Reformer

In this teaching you see no more the empty letters, the valueless husks or shells of the Law, which unceasingly enjoins, “This thou shalt do and observe,” and ever in vain. You see instead the true kernel and power which confers Christ and the fullness of His Spirit. In consequence, men heartily believe the message of the Gospel and enjoy its riches. They are accounted as having fulfilled the Ten Commandments. John says (Jn 1:16-17) “Of his fullness we all received, and grace for grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John’s thought is: The Law has indeed been given by Moses, but what avails that fact? To be sure, it is a noble doctrine and portrays a beautiful and instructive picture of man’s duty to God and all mankind; it is really excellent as to the letter. Yet it remains empty; it does not enter into the heart. Therefore it is called “law,” nor can it become aught else, so long as nothing more is given.

—Martin Luther, Assorted Sermons, “The Twofold Use of the Law & Gospel”

Pulling It Together

The 17-year old sat in his American History class and challenged his teacher: I don’t see why I should have to study this subject. What practical use does it have for me? Of course, the translation into adult English was: I am lazy and didn’t do my homework. The spirit of history had yet to invade his young soul. To him, American History was just laws and facts and dead men’s names. It was not alive in him; nor would it ever be alive to him until he should meet someone in whom that history had been fulfilled.

The teenagers, young adults, middle-aged, and retiring sat in the church pews and challenged the preacher: We don’t see why we should have to read the Old Testament. What practical use does it hold for us?

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers


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