Home > Faith, Fathers in Christ, Ransacking the Lost Treasures of the Lutheran Church > The Way to Certainty of Salvation–Loehe (part 1)

The Way to Certainty of Salvation–Loehe (part 1)


On the Divine Word, as the Light that Leads to Peace by W. Loehe (from Der Lutheraner vol. 3, p. 56 trans. Joel Baseley)

 

So why is it that with so many preachers which God has given to his people in recent years, we see so many who don’t press on into the peace of justification? –St. John in his first epistle 3.4 says with great assurance of himself and his people: “My beloved, we are now children of God” –v. 14 “We know that we have come from out of death into life”–and he addresses them in 4.4 “Little children, you are of God!”  So one has a surety of being children of God.  People who are able to say that about themselves have pressed through from death unto life.  But these days why are there so few such people?  Why are most people terrified when the question is posed to them point blank, yes or no: “Are you born again?  Are you a child of God?  Are you in the life that comes from God?”  Why is the answer so seldom given those questions a quiet, humble, steady: “Yes, just as you say!”?  Why is it usually a shame faced “No!”, a tentative, “I don’t know!”?  Why do so many, especially young hearts awakened by those sermons of evangelical preachers, listening to them raptly and attentively, wrestle and struggle for faith because those sermons are so forthright to assure them that it must be within their power to believe; –but then, after a few years, their circumstances change, they get married and start a new family and their youthful Christianity disappears with their red cheeks; and what about even those whose awakenings had elicited great hopes, who were the pride and joy of their teachers, but turned out to be as the flowers of the grass who had sprung up not from beyond, but from the earth, who only have their season, as all things in the world?  Why do some experienced men and sober minded women look back in poignant bemusement at that awakening in their youth and assert that this awakening was just part of their joy of youth as everyone experiences joy in youth,–and like all others’ youthful joy, even if it was, by all means, more pure and chaste, yet it had only been enthusiasm (Schwaermerei)?  How does it happen that so many look back upon their youth in the initial awakening of their glowing souls with dismissive thoughts to say: “I thought it important, but it was nothing!”?

Perhaps many sorts of reasons could be proposed why these sad circumstances occur.  I might especially propose the following for your consideration.  Consider, my brothers, might what I’m saying here be true?

When a soul has awakened and now seriously asks: “what must I do to be saved?”, it is quite right to say: “Seek Jesus and his light!  Nothing else does any good!”  But where one ought to seek Christ, as a rule, is left pretty vague.  Most point those asking to seek the Lord upon their knees, to call to him with a yearning and desirous spirit, so he will not fail to appear–in his own time, at his own appointed hour.  Now the poor soul forsakes everything.  He cries.  He won’t let go of the All-present One until he blesses him.  And the All-present one who hears the cries of the young ravens, also blesses them with a joyful awareness of his nearness.  The blissfully awakened gets up off his knees and believes–he believes that he has now found his Savior.  His trembling heart would be content to die, like Simeon.  For it has experienced God’s salvation.  –But alas, now that’s done.  Young people may have many such times in Christ.  But the older he gets in Christ, the more seldom he receives these waves of joy.  And if that has been the gauge of his Christianity, it’s fading away.  He is best in a forlorn longing for the past, and thus, he turns into a pitiful pillar of salt, like Lor’s wife, who looked back, and, because of that never reached Zoar, that peaceful harbor of salvation that lay before her.

 

Dear brothers!  That path does not lead to peace, nor to the God-given confidence that nothing can ever again separate us from thelove of God.  That path is obviously nothing but a path of feelings and of works.  When a person is awakened, it must then be our first task to tell him that his feelings of excitement or whatever joy attends him (for not every awakening is attended by feelings–and they may be sweet or bitter) are transient and are not even the most important part of what’s happening.  He ought rejoice as if he were not rejoicing, nor place such a great value on hi sfeelings, as if when they were missing the main pillars of his existence would shake and quake.  Much more, from beginning to end, he must–and this is the main point we are making–he must not look to himself, who is constantly changing, for his spiritual life, but rather to the unchangeable promises of God’s Word, which, God be praised!, stand outside us, untouched by our feelings, that are a divine surety and guarantee and a pure letter of assurance and peace to redeemed souls.  Yes, we must present these promises of God to a newly awakened Christian as even greater and more important than their faith.  For in the work of our salvation faith is what is in people and entrusted to people, but, even so, faith itself is not always the same, now weak, now strong, while God’s Word stands fast and never wavers in a thousand years.  As much higher as God is than man, so much higher is God’s Word and promise than our faith.  Faith waxes and wanes, God’s Word is now as it is at any other time.  God’s Word is God’s manifest faithfulness and tender mercy.  God’s Word is God’s presence in grace or wrath, whether man wants it or not.  –Where ever God’s Word and promise is, there is also God’s strength of grace and life.

(continued)

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