Good works and the suffering of Christ and the Christian go hand in hand, indeed they are “the firstfruits” of the Spirit of which Paul speaks. To live in Christ is to suffer for the sake of serving one’s neighbor and brother. [Rev. Kurt Hering]
“The Crucified Christ Enframed with Scenes of Martyrdom of the Apostles,”
oil on canvas by Frans the younger Francken
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF CONCORD
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
GOSPEL LESSON: Luke 6:36–42
FORMULA OF CONCORD: SOLID DECLARATION
ARTICLE IV.12: GOOD WORKS
7] . . . it is God’s will, order, and command that believers should walk in good works; and that truly good works are not those which every one contrives himself from a good intention, or which are done according to traditions of men, but those which God Himself has prescribed and commanded in His Word; also, that truly good works are done, not from our own natural powers, but in this way: when the person by faith is reconciled with God and renewed by the Holy Ghost,….
8] … the good works of believers, although in this flesh they are impure and incomplete, are pleasing and acceptable to God, …
9] Therefore, of works that are truly good and well-pleasing to God, which God will reward in this world and in the world to come, faith must be the mother and source; and on this account they are called by St. Paul true fruits of faith, as also of the Spirit. 10] For, as Dr. Luther writes in the Preface to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: Thus faith is a divine work in us, that changes us and regenerates us of God, and puts to death the old Adam, makes us entirely different men in heart, spirit, mind, and all powers, and brings with it [confers] the Holy Ghost. Oh, it is a living, busy, active, powerful thing that we have in faith, so that it is impossible for it not to do good without ceasing. 11] Nor does it ask whether good works are to be done; but before the question is asked, it has wrought them, and is always engaged in doing them. But he who does not do such works is void of faith, and gropes and looks about after faith and good works, and knows neither what faith nor what good works are, yet babbles and prates with many words concerning faith and good works. 12] [Justifying] faith is a living, bold [firm] trust in God’s grace, so certain that a man would die a thousand times for it [rather than suffer this trust to be wrested from him]. And this trust and knowledge of divine grace renders joyful, fearless, and cheerful towards God and all creatures, which [joy and cheerfulness] the Holy Ghost works through faith; and on account of this, man becomes ready and cheerful, without coercion, to do good to every one, to serve every one, and to suffer everything for love and praise to God, who has conferred this grace on him, so that it is impossible to separate works from faith, yea, just as impossible as it is for heat and light to be separated from fire.
The text used here is from Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church: German-Latin-English. These texts are in the public domain, can be found online @ http://bookofconcord.org, and may be freely copied.
Rev. Kurt Hering’s objective is to make a connection between the “Gospel Text For The Day” (usually) and the Book of Concord in order to help pastors make connections for their parishoners that help them understand how the BoC sets forth the faith once delivered to us in Scripture for the life of the Church. The vast majority of Lutherans simply have never had that done for them, largely because a pastor only has so much time for a sermon and getting everything ready for Sunday in addition to his weekly work with Christ’s sheep.