Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Means of Grace

Christ has two functions: mediation, or redemption, and a testimony about the forgiveness of sins and mediation.This, too, our Enthusiasts do not understand. The one is an act; the other, the use of the act. I have written against the Enthusiast Carlstadt in a book to answer his charge: "You new papists, you make new mistakes. You teach that there is remission of sins in Baptism, in  the Gospel. But Scripture says something else. The only thing we know about the forgiveness of sins is that it occurs on the cross, not in Baptism." That is where he misleads the naive. Note well this passage and others like it. They distinguish between redemption as an actual act and redemption as it is preached. Had Christ been crucified a hundred thousand times and had nothing been said about it, what profit would the act of His being brought to the cross have brought?

There is a testimony in Baptism. We are baptized into Christ. His Word is present. I am baptized into Christ the Crucified. In Baptism, therefore, there is a use of redemption - an application of its use. In this way the Gospel is the spoken Word, but it gives and brings this that Christ is, etc. Thus the Word of God brings out the remission of sins. Therefore there is remission of sins in the Gospel. This one fact - that Christ once, etc. - is divulged and spread in the Word. Thus there is remission of sin in the Sacrament. No one says that Christ is crucified in the Supper and in Baptism, but we say that in the Eucharist His body crucified for is is given to us, as the words say: And He said: "Take this.'" This word "Take" - this word offers me Christ crucified.

Therefore, Christ redeemed us once with a single work, but He did not pass out redemption with a single means. He gave it out through the medium of washing in Baptism, through the medium of eating in the Sacrament of the Altar, through the media of comforting the brethren, of reading in the Book, that the fruit of His passion might be spread everywhere.
Martin Luther
Commentary on 1 Timothy
LW AE Vol 28 pp 268, 269

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