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This, then, is what the evangelist means to say,…. That was indeed a most shameful thing for the whole Israelite land and nation, that Christ was born in their midst and they should first hear of it from alien and heathen foreigners…. Thus all its study and knowledge end in nothing but error and folly…. For as the saying has it, those who lie about distant lands, lie boldly, because verification is impossible, and so refutation is also not possible…. God help us, how completely this art has everything under its sway! Reason has fallen prey to it and worships it with abject reverence, because in its blindness reason has greatest delight in coarse lies and petty, empty fables….

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When the evangelist says Herod was troubled and the whole of the city with him,…. He who despises Scripture and sets it aside, will never find him….

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For all doctrines of men are dangerous and finally lead to the loss of faith, just as Solomon was led astray by foreign women…. Christ will not permit himself to be found in holy places, nor in holy guise; nor will the glosses of men yield an answer. The Scriptures alone and their word of Christ, these and nothing else, must be sought in holy places and at the doors of holy people…. The devil…. When Christ is announced as having his temporal origin in Bethlehem , he must be a true natural man….

But he is not lord of them who do not believe this…. Since… he had to become a true, natural, human being, so it follows that he had to change that same life in the body into a spiritual, invisible life….

The church [therefore] is in travail; she experienced the sufferings of Christ and was in anguish of birth, to bring forth a new spiritual people…. When Herod goes to considerable trouble to know the whereabouts of the new king,…. But… no wisdom, no counsel can avail against the Lord…. From the fact that they rejoiced so greatly when they saw the star, we can infer that these magi were sorely tried and depressed because of the uninviting circumstances they had found…. After the magi had passed through their trial and were newly born…, they were strong and no longer offended by Christ; they had passed the test.

For when they arrive at a poor hut and find a poor young woman with a poor little child, they meet once again with appearances so utterly out of keeping with a king, that even their domestic servant is more honorable and more noble; they do not allow this to make them waver, but… they dismiss from their eyes and senses whatever human nature in its vanity might question and undermine, and follow the word… in all purity of heart, take him to be a king, fall down on their knees, worship him, and give him gifts….

The word of God is decisive for you; it determines when and how far you may believe…. He who clings to nothing but the word and puts his trust in it and waits,… and sets no goal, determines no time, chooses no measure or manner, but freely resigns it to the will and pleasure of God and so honors his word to do its work when, how, where, and through whom he will: such is a free and right faith which does not and cannot tempt God….

These magi signify, and in fact are, the first fruits of heathendom, converted to faith by the gospel….

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But observe that at first Herod does not plan to deal with the new king by force, only by cunning. He convenes the scholars and diligently searches in the Scriptures, as if he really wanted to know the truth…. They want to have Scripture on their side and what they teach must be in Scripture, but in such a way that their own opinion has priority; Scripture must be twisted to fall in line with them. For their intention in using Scripture is merely to suppress the truth…. The gospel, the gospel, they cry, and then they deny and condemn and curse everything that is in the gospel and all its contents.

They are just like Herod, who learns everything about the star and yet wants to destroy that which the star signifies…. It goes no further and comes to rest over the place where the child is. The light of the sacred gospel does the same thing, for it is like a bright lamp in the darkness. A sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving [is] acceptable to God…. If I praise and confess God, they will give me to drink of the cup of martyrdom.

For you should not think that if he became a king… for you and has granted you such great benefits, this was achieved without price or with little cost In him and through him your sin and death are overcome and you are granted grace and life, but it cost him much and was achieved with hard work and bitter sweat since he paid for it most dearly with his own blood and life.


It is an infinite word and must be contemplated and grasped with a quiet mind…. And so, my dear Christians, get to it, get to it, and let my exposition… be no more than a scaffold, and aid for the construction of the true building, so that we may ourselves grasp and taste the pure and simple word of God and abide in it; for there alone God dwells in Zion.

Marshall, Christmas The Law-Gospel Dialectic. Christianity is regularly plagued by false pictures of itself. This is what false teachers do 2 Peter 1. They try to make Christianity easier than it is see Matthew 7. These pictures must be undermined and destroyed 2 Corinthians So false teachers flourish. And how shall we do that? These false teachers never identify themselves as such.

But remember, the devil is a deceiver John 8. So more is needed than Bible verses.

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When so viewed, the Bible will appear as rebuking and condemning, as well as justifying and consoling BC p. This double thrust is the pure Word. And we see it clearly in the killing and enlivening of 2 Corinthians 3. Christianity is distorted when this divided word — the Law and the Gospel — is handled badly.

Here are four rules to ward that off:.

A Necessary Twosome. Keeping only the Law suffocates us with legalism — which requires us to be good on our own. Keeping only the Gospel intoxicates us with antinomianism — which assures us we are fine the way we are. Only his Gospel can waylay our fears of death and judgment. We need both — all of the time — if we are to be faithful disciples of Christ.

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Proper Order. The Law must first kill us before the Gospel can enliven us. This sequence is non-negotiable.

XXI.Luther and Article XI of the Formula of Concord.

If we were to switch them around, the Gospel would harden and the Law would go flat. No other sequence preserves both. Correct Distinction. The respective work of Law and Gospel cannot be mixed. They must not masquerade as each other, but instead stay in their own domain.

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That would make us licentious and damnable Galatians 5. Both Law and Gospel require urgency 2 Timothy 4. So sheepish shepherds, even if intending to be loving, are bad for the Church. Tranquility is not attainable except from the Word and works of God…. Often dinner parties are arranged to create a happy atmosphere…. But usually it comes out just the opposite way…. By contrast, it often happens that someone happens upon a most joyful dinner by accident, that is, by the gift of God. It is not honor and desire for things that is evil, but an anxiety about things and your schemes to obtain them are to be despised….

If God has given you food, eat it; if fasting, bear it; if honor, accept it; if condemnation, suffer it; if He casts you into prison, put up with it; if He wants you to be king, obey Him when He calls; if He cast you down, do not worry…. The descendents are not stirred by the example of their ancestors and are always interested in something new. Whatever is present is boring, whatever is absent is intriguing.

And yet there is nothing new. For once it is present, it is already old; it brings no pleasure, and something else is desirable.