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Augsburg Confession, I. God

Tappert1 We unanimously hold and teach, in accordance with the decree of the Council of Nicaea,3 2 that there is one divine essence, which is called and which is truly God, and that there are three persons in this one divine essence, equal in power and alike eternal: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. 3 All three are one divine essence, eternal, without division, without end, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, one creator and preserver of all things visible and invisible. 4 The word “person” is to be understood as the Fathers employed the term in this connection, not as a part or a property of another but as that which exists of itself4

5 Therefore all the heresies which are contrary to this article are rejected. Among these are the heresy of the Manichaeans,5 who assert that there are two gods, one good and one evil; also that of the Valentinians,6  Arians,7 Eunomians,8 Mohammedans,9 and others like them; 6 also that of the Samosatenes,10 old and new, who hold that there is only one person and sophistically assert that the other two, the Word and the Holy Spirit, are not necessarily distinct persons but that the Word signifies a physical word or voice and that the Holy Spirit is a movement induced in creatures.11

[Notes are from Tappert, Theodore G. The Book of Concord : The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 2000, c1959, electronic edition, Concordia Publishing House]


3 The Nicene Creed

4 The term hypostasis in Greek or persona in Latin were used in the ancient church to repudiate Modalism, which regarded the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three modes or manifestations of the one God.

5 A religion based on Persian dualism combined with Christian and other elements, founded in the third century by Mani and named after him. The Albigensians of the late Middle Ages held similar notions.

6 Gnostics of the second century who took their name from Valentinus.

7 Followers of Arius who were condemned at the Council of Niceas in 325 and who held that the Son was created and of different “substance” from the Father.

8 Followers of Eunomius, an extreme Arian of the late fourth century.

9 The Reformers frequently referred to Mohammedianism and an anti-Trinitarian heresy.

10 Followers of Paul of Samosata, who taught in the third century that Jesus was a man specially endowed by the Spirit. The “new Samosatenes” were anti-Trinitarian spiritualists of the sixteenth century like John Campanus and Hans Denck.

11 Followers of Paul of Samosata, who taught in the third century that Jesus was a man specially endowed by the Spirit. The “new Samosatenes” were anti-Trinitarian spiritualists of the sixteenth century like John Campanus and Hans Denck.

 

 

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We Confess the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV)

 

 

In the Name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  Into this Name were you baptized.  This is who God is, Only God, the Only True God.  Besides this One, there is no other.  The true God is One in Three Persons and Three Persons in One God.  This is so not because it makes sense or because men in the early church made it up long ago, but because God has revealed Himself as Three Persons, yet One God.  What God has revealed, this we confess with the words, ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty…And in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord…  I believe in the Holy Spirit…’

We confess what is common to all Christians, not only on this day called Trinity Sunday, but every Sunday.  It’s common to all because all Christians will believe that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.  It can be no other way.  This is the litmus test of who is of the Christian faith and who is not.  Though it is true that believing in Jesus is what saves, believing in the Jesus of the Bible means also believing His Word, even where He says, I and My Father are one (John 10:30) and Whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me (Mark 9:37).  The Christ of Scripture cannot be divorced from His Father, by whom He was begotten.

In other words, whoever receives Jesus receives also His Father.  Whoever does not receive Jesus does not receive the Father either.  This was and is the problem of all who speak of a ‘belief in God’, but who do not acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son.  You cannot separate the two.  It is true that we distinguish between the Father and the Son, but you cannot have one without having the other.  This means that all who claim to have the true God, like Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others, really do not have the true God, but worship a false god, a god of their own making, for they deny the divinity, the Godhead, of the Son.

Saying this does not sit well with a lot of people.  We live in an age where everything goes, and it does not matter what you believe, just do not ‘step on anyone’s toes’ or offend anyone, esp. in matters of religion.  As soon as distinctions are drawn and another is said to be wrong, lovelessness and intolerance are said to be at play.  The line has there been crossed.  Discrimination and righteous attitudes are said to be the culprit.  Because not everyone believes what you believe, what you believe might be your faith, but it is not mine.  Just because it might be true for you does not mean that it is true for me.

This notion has also crept into the church.  Just because the church says something, I do not have to believe it.  It is just the collective opinion of people anyway.  I can be a member of this church or of that church, but really, it does not matter what the church preaches and teaches.  I will believe what I want to believe.  It is not about the church anyway.  It is about what I believe.  That is what matters in the end.

Have you heard these things before?  Sound familiar?  It is the spirit of our times.  We minimize the Godhead according to our own personal opinions.  We sift through the teachings of the Bible, and pick and chose what we like or want to hear.  We go to church, not to encounter the Word of God, but to see how good the preacher sounds and catch up with others on their week.

But God speaks differently.  Church is where God’s Word and His gospel are proclaimed.  He has given the church what to speak and He has given you what to hear, both Law and Gospel, Law to the sinner and Gospel to the one sorry for his sin. God speaks the truth of our waywardness and the truth of our salvation in Christ.  He reveals what we are to do and how we are to do it.  He reveals that we are to believe Him and His Word, hear His Word, and receive life through His Means of Grace.  He has not given us to go our own way, but to follow His, for His is the way of life—the only way of life.

We learn this way of God through the books of the Old and New Testaments.  Where the preaching and teaching are according to these God inspired writings, there you will hear God’s Word to sinners, bringing down because of sin, but raising up in the light of God’s forgiveness.  The law of God shows us our sin and how we stand condemned before God because of it.  The Gospel of God shows us our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord, the very same whom we confess as the Son of the Father, who now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty since His ascension into heaven.

On account of Christ, you are no longer under God’s condemnation.  Christ stood in your place, becoming sin for you, that you might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).  The only True God does not leave you in the darkness of your sin.  And you are not the one who decides what is the right and the true doctrine.  God alone is the One who decides this.  God alone is the one who has decided this.  You cannot believe whatever you want to believe or follow whomever you want to follow and still rightly consider yourself a Christian.  Your tendency to do this is the leaning of your nature since the fall in the garden, but this inclination to go your own way you are to continue to fight as God’s baptized child.

God speaks and teaches only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  This will not always what you want to hear, but God says what you need to hear, that you might repent and be saved, and not that you feel good about yourselves or find momentary fulfillment.  God says what He says in order that you hear Him, listen to Him, be humbled, and that He lift you up.

The way that God leads, the doctrine that He gives, the Word that He speaks, and the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are for nothing less than your salvation.  He gives you all these things that you believe Christ to be your Savior from sin and death and that you continue in this faith.  Not only was Christ man.  He was also God, God for you, dying your death, crucifying sin, and giving Life, even His own life, that you live in Him and He in you, now and forevermore.

For this reason, for your salvation, Jesus sent His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and even now through His Word, that you be in the faith of our Lord Jesus and remain in Him to the end.  For your salvation did Christ die and live again.  This is why God the Father sent Him into the world in the first place, that you not perish, but have everlasting life.

God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).  This is the truth that the world does not see, first, that it needs salvation, second, that God desires this, and third, how God brings salvation, not through man’s work, but through His, through Jesus Christ whom He sent.

 As to the first, the law of God is preached among you and in the world to condemn the world and your sinful nature because of sin.  Any lack of tolerance for sin is not first yours.  It is God’s.  The world does not want to hear such things.  They want to hear that it is ok to do whatever they want, regardless of who gets hurt, because, after all, life is all about ME and what I want.  But not willing to hear God’s Law, the world also will not hear of the God-man Jesus dying on a tree as the sacrifice for sinners.  They thus deny God on two counts: one, as to His law which condemns, and two, as to His Gospel, which saves.

The world doesn’t see that it needs salvation because it is not willing to admit how bad things really are.  And how bad things are must be revealed by God Himself, for we can see that things are at least not 100% good, but we think that this is sufficient.  God says otherwise, and this is the condemning thing.  God doesn’t just say, ‘try’ or ‘do better next time’.  To Him, one ‘slip up’ in thought, word, or deed is sufficient for an eternal fall.  This is the problem, because none are even at the least minutely perfect in this regard.  God demands what we cannot fulfill.

We are at a crossroads with only One to help.  This One is revealed only in the Gospel of Christ.  God reveals this Gospel in His book.  Through Christ, your sins are forgiven and you have peace with God.  This is the ‘how’ of God bringing salvation — through Christ: on the tree, in the tomb, rising from the dead, ascending into heaven, sending His Spirit, preaching His Word, giving body and blood in bread and wine, and baptizing with water in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Through God’s Christ and by His means, God gives life and salvation.  And this life and salvation is God’s desire for all people.  For all people Christ died and gave His life.  The problem is not that God does not make this or Himself known or that He does not care.  Far from it!  God does care and He has made Himself known, and He does show forth His mercy to sinful mankind.  Not all this, because not all take God at His Word.  Only those who believe God’s Word will see Christ for who He is: as Savior, not as Judge; as redeemer, not as the one whom we owe; as our God, apart from whom is no other; and the 2nd person of three of the Trinity.

All that we know of God’s salvation in Christ God reveals in Holy Writ.  For this purpose was the Bible given, so writes St. John, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31).  There, in the Holy Scriptures, we see Jesus, living under the law and fulfilling it for us.  There, we see Christ, paying the price for our sin with His own death, though He was sinless.  There, we see Christ, giving His promise through means of Word and sacrament, giving life where there once was only death; giving health where there once was only sickness; giving knowledge where there once was only ignorance; and giving wisdom where there once was only foolishness.  There, in the Bible, Jesus reveals Himself to be God’s Son, one with the Father, and one with the Spirit, the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Today’s Gospel text from St. Matthew’s points to the Lord’s desire for your salvation, for Jesus Himself says to His disciples before leaving them, Going therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).  The church is in existence even now to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.  The Lord’s authority is now given to the church, the authority of God to proclaim the truth of sin and forgiveness, to make disciples, to baptize, and to teach.  This is the work of God, the very work that God works through His church, ushering in new life through His Word, and keeping and sustaining that new life through that same Word.

Where that Word of God is kept, there God’s Spirit will be, calling by the Gospel, enlightening with His gifts, and sanctifying and keeping in the true faith.  There also will the Triune God be.  Where the Spirit is, there will also be Christ.  Where Christ is, there will also be the Father.  You can’t have One without the Other.  There is no God without the Son.  There is no Spirit apart from the Son.  There is no faith apart from the Spirit.  And there is no salvation without faith in the Son.

Where Father, Son, and Spirit are kept true and distinct, and God undivided, One God, yet Three Persons, there is salvation, for God the Father Sent His Son to save us from our sins, and the Spirit of truth testifies of the Son (John 15:26).

In order that salvation in Christ be made known, our Lord sends His church to proclaim the truth of His Word, even the truth of the Holy Triune God.  This truth is not of human origin.  It cannot be understood by rational formula or common sense.  Though it is true, all will not accept it.  It is only by faith that we believe, faith according to what God has already revealed in His Word, and faith according to what God now makes known to you.  It matters not what part of the world you were born in, or what the majority of the beliefs are in your neighborhood.  The truth of God is true for all people because it is true.  This is what God reveals in the only Holy Book, the Bible, Holy because it is the very Word of God given to man, that God make Himself known, that man believe in His Son and so be saved.  Amen.

Come Holy Spirit

1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

      5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

      14But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

        17‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

          19And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;   20the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.  21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”  Acts 2:1-21 (ESV)

On that blessed day of Pentecost, our Lord Christ brought about what He promised to do.  In the Gospel reading from today, Jesus promised The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father would send in His Name (John 14:26).  This promise Jesus fulfilled.  On that Day of Pentecost, Jesus sent His Spirit upon His disciples.  As a as a result, the disciples, now apostles, spoke and proclaimed the mighty works of God (ta. megalei/a tou/ qeou/).

This they would not have done if it wasn’t for the Spirit.  On that day that the Lord first appeared to the disciples after His glorious resurrection, the disciples’ were behind closed doors For fear of the Jews (John 20:19).  The disciples were too afraid to talk to anyone after the Lord’s death about Jesus.  And even after seeing the Lord, Some doubted (Matthew 28:17).  Neither did they go and tell the good news of Jesus until the Spirit came upon them, for Jesus shad told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received power from on high (Luke  24:49).

So they waited.  And in their waiting, they were joyous.  They worshiped the Lord.  They blessed God.  The praised Christ.  And the Lord’s promise of the Helper came to fruition.  His sure Word which they had alone to go on came to be.  It came to be because Jesus is the Lord.  And His Word came to pass.  And from that time on, from the Day of Pentecost, the apostles went out preaching the Gospel, the Good News of Salvation in Christ.

From timid, fearful, and weak men, they became bold, fearless, and powerful preachers and servants of the Most High God. This came about not by their own doing, but by means of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent, as St. Peter says, This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh’ (Acts 2:16-17).  And even though the apostles, and later Paul, and now, still, faithful preachers today, appear timid, fearful, and weak in appearance, in their preaching you will find a boldness, a fearlessness, and a power that is not of men, but of God, for they preach not themselves, nor of men, but Christ, Christ who died and rose on the third day.

The world will hear this kind of preaching of Christ as weakness and nonsense.  But in truth, the preaching of Christ is salvation, salvation to those who hear and call on His Name, the Name of the Lord, in faith.  There is salvation in none other; only in Christ (Acts 4:12).  And Him we also preach, for any other content does not lead to eternal life.

This is how we are to know whether or not a preacher is of God or not of God, whether he is faithful or not faithful, and whether you should him or not: whether he preaches Christ.  If he does not, him you don’t need to hear.  If he does not preach Christ, Him you are not to hear, regardless of his popularity or following.  The sheep of our Lord do not follow strangers.  They hear His voice, and His voice alone, not another’s.  The voice of another they flee from, not flock to (John 10:5).  The preacher who does not preach Christ is not a Christian preacher, but one who deceives his hearers, robbing them of the Lord’s comforting Gospel, and drawing them away from the Lord who purchased them with His own blood (Acts 20:28).

Him who preaches Christ, on the other hand, is him you are to hear, not because of the preacher, but because of the Word he preaches.  Where Christ is preached, there the Holy Spirit is doing His work, for the Holy Spirit points to Jesus.  Therefore, the speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost was not for the purpose of drawing attention to the speaking in tongues.  The speaking in tongues by the apostles by means of the Holy Spirit was also not to draw attention to the Holy Spirit.  The speaking in other languages, other languages that the hearers could understand, was for the purpose of declaring the wonderful works of God.

What was before unknown was now heard.  It was heard because the Lord sent the Word to be heard.  That is the Word of Christ, and salvation in His Name.  The content of the apostles’ preaching on that Day of Pentecost was Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 1:23).  The Spirit being poured out on the disciples meant that the message of sins forgiven was then to go out into the world, beginning at Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and into all the world (Acts 1:8).

And this is what was done.  This is what is being done.  This is what will be done.  The Holy Spirit continues to do His work of pointing to Christ, creating faith, and sustaining faith, through the Word of our Lord given to preach, proclaim, and make known.  We need not worry that the Lord will bring to Himself all who believe and call on His Name.  Whether that be through us or through others, it’s not we who are to saved the world, but Christ, who already has accomplished and completed that we which we are not able.

Our concern also is not the conversion of others. Making unbelievers into believers is not our job.  It’s the work of the Holy Spirit, when and where He pleases.  Our concern is to remain faithful to Christ and to His Word, for it is they who love Christ who will keep His Word.  It is they who love Christ who will confess His Name and what He has done, and what He continues to do today.  Doing these things will keep us busy enough.  They will also bring trouble and challenge enough, too.  Many there are who do not want to hear the truth, the truth of God’s Word, the truth of how God works through what the unspiritual and the ordinary, even God becoming flesh.  Many there are who scoff at Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as God’s means of grace.  Many there are who don’t want to hear what is despised of man and utter foolishness to human wisdom.

But here our Lord says through the Apostle Paul, The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Cor. 1:25). He also says that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

You need not worry that the way God works and the means through which the Holy Spirit brings about faith and keeps in the faith are despised, rejected, and trampled down by others.  Through them God will accomplish what He will, for according to His Holy Word does He work.  So also you need not worry that not everyone who hears His Word believes the Name of Christ.  God knows those who are His.  He knows them by Name (Isaiah 45:3-4).  He also knows who will be His through the Word preached and proclaimed.

It is the preaching, the proclaiming, the confessing Christ’s Name that we are to be about doing.  It is through these that the Lord converts and brings abut faith.  And this is not our doing.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Whether there be few or many who heed the call to repent of their sin and believe the Gospel, you are given to continually do so, to contend for the faith, to confess Christ, to endure, and to remain in the that which God gives, even in His Word and receiving the blessed body and blood of our Lord.  Through these, God strengthens and preserves you in the one true faith.  Be concerned more about something else and you have misplaced your trust.  But God would have you trust Him, and entrust yourself to Him who is the Church’s Head.  He knows how to take care of His own body, and He knows how to bring others into His fold.

Our Lord gives confidence in the face of trial.  He also gives boldness and direction in the way you should go.  He does not give the Spirit of timidity and fear.  But He does give the spirit of power, and love, and of sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).  Sending His Spirit on that Day of Pentecost, the apostles, receiving power from on High, preached boldly the Name of Christ.  They flinched not at what might have been.  The did not heed the warnings of the naysayers and those who doubted the Lord’s Word.  They pressed on.  In the midst of hardship, they continued.  To threats to keep silent, they spoke all the more, saying, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

These things they did because the strength to do so was not their own.  These things they did because the strength was another’s.  The words that they spoke, the things they declared, were not of men.  They were of God.  This was their confidence and this was their hope.  It is also our own.

The Psalmist writes, that The help of man is useless (Psalm 60:11; 128:12).  He also says, It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man (Psalm 118:8).  Man will fail you.  God will not.  Your confidence is the Lord.  Your confidence is His Word and His promise.  Remain in these, and you will not fret and worry about things you need not worry or be anxious about.  Trust in Christ Jesus, your help and your salvation (Psalm 79:9).  In him you have your Savior, in Him and not you or anyone else.

This was the message of the apostles on that Day of Pentecost, that Day where the Lord gave utterance through the mouths of the apostles.  It is still that message which the Lord gives utterance through those who proclaim His Word today: salvation from sin and death, in Christ alone.  The Lord grant the power of the Spirit to ever have Christ’s Name boldly proclaimed.  And the Lord grant us to believe such Words.  Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

 

 

Notes

  • Day of Pentecost-fulfillment; more important than the experience and the speaking in tongues, the ‘gifts of the Spirit’ is the WHO who is giving them out

Fulfillment of OT; Fulfillment of Jesus’ Word; What does the Holy Spirit Do?  Testifies of Christ!

  • Day of Pentecost-today; God gives without measureà how? Word and Sacrament: the means through which God’s Spirit works; Doing what? Bringing about faith

 

 

The Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

 

The Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer

 

Thy kingdom come.

What does this mean?
The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.

 

How does God’s kingdom come?
God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.

 

 

Luther

We desperately need this Pentecost sermon of the Holy Spirit, so that he may give us a courageous heart, so that we, too, may persevere, regardless of who is offended, regardless of how much people may slander us.  And even if cults and sects arise, we will also ignore that.  That’s the kind of courage we need, a courage that remains undisturbed by any of these things and simply continues fearlessly to confess and publicly proclaim Christ, who was so grossly misjudged, condemned, and killed. [Sermons of Martin Luther, The House Postils, Vol 2, p163]

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