By His Sheer Grace Alone


I’m working on the epistle for Sunday, Galatians 1:11-24.  In proceeding toward a sermon I’m  reading Martin Luther’s 1535 lectures on Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia.

One of the most difficult task for Christians is to receive the Gospel without any qualifications or conditions.

St. Paul wrote in Galatians 1:15-16, (God) who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me…

Luther wrote in regard to Paul’s words, “’He called me,’ Paul says. How then?  By His sheer grace alone… Moses (the Law) does not reveal the Son of God; he discloses the Law, sin, the conscience, death, the wrath and judgment of God, and hell.  These things are not the Son of God!  Therefore, only the Gospel reveals the Son of God.  Oh, if only one could distinguish carefully here and not look for the Law in the Gospel but keep as separate from the Law as heaven is distant from the earth!  In itself the difference is easy and clear, but to us it is difficult and well-nigh incomprehensible.  For its easy to say the Gospel is nothing but the revelation of the Son God or the knowledge of Jesus Christ and not the revelation or knowledge of the Law.  But in the conflict of conscience and in practice it is difficult even for those who have had a lot of experience to hold to this for certain.

Now if the Gospel is the revelation of the Son of God, as it really is, then it certainly does not demand works, threaten death, or terrify the conscience.  But it shows the Son of God, who is neither the Law nor a work…Christ is the subject of the Gospel.  What the Gospel teaches and shows me is a divine work given to me by sheer grace; neither human reason nor wisdom nor even the Law of God teaches this.  And I accept this gift by faith alone.”


These words of St. Paul and Martin Luther are a challenge every time I write a sermon or deal with any situation.  They have led me to choose to “sin” on the side of grace rather than on the side of the Law.

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