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What Luther Says

An 'Advent Crisis' Averted (Death In Adam, Life In Christ)

This is a popular Advent related picture I'm sure you've seen at one time or another.

I came across it on another Lutheran website when I was preparing the previous post on Advent and thought I'd use it as an opportunity to share one of my favorite passages of the entire Bible with you.

How many families are experiencing an "Advent Crisis" like this? Poor little Johnny feels like a monster (or is viewed as one by his dear parents). That's a good thing actually...although it doesn't go quite far enough I'm afraid.

Psalm 51:5 (ESV) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 (ESV) Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Romans 3:11 (ESV) no one understands; no one seeks for God.
Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

According to the Lord, that's the truth about each and every one of us -- including "sweet and innocent" little children like Johnny here.

"No, you're not a 'monster,' but you are a sinner. The good news? Soon, this 'Advent Crisis' will be over, and we'll be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior! Why is that 'good news,' you ask?"

Romans 5:1-21 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoiced in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lutheran Study Bible summarizes this passage quite nicely...

[Romans 5:1-11] We naturally seek to avoid pain and suffering. Yet, there are times when suffering is unavoidable. Focused on Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection, we know that suffering is not the whole story. God will use afflictions for our good and to bless others. He will keep His promises, and we will overcome our sufferings by faith. Lord Christ, You suffered for us. When we must suffer, lead us in faith. Amen.

[Romans 5:12-21] Adam's sin brought guilt, the desire to sin, and mortality to all humans. We continue to sin and deserve condemnation. Praise God, He did not stop with Adam. He sent a Second Adam to begin a new humanity. Christ fulfilled the Law. He was obedient to the Father, and He paid the penalty for our sin. One man -- Christ -- has redeemed us and changed humanity forever. O Lord, Your grace abounds for me so that I may enjoy justification, life, and peace as Adam enjoyed before the fall into sin. Reign over me, gracious Lord, that I may reign over trespasses and death, inheriting all the blessings of the Second Adam -- Jesus. Amen.

For emphasis, there's this from Martin Luther...

"In chapter 5 [Paul] comes to the fruits and works of faith, such as peace, joy, love to God and to every man, as well as confidence, assurance, boldness, courage, and hope amid tribulation and suffering. For all this follows, if faith be true, because of the superabundant goodness that God shows us in Christ, causing Christ to die for us before we could ask it of him, indeed, while we were still enemies. Thus we have it that faith justifies without any works, but rather that the genuine works will not be lacking. Of these the work-righteous saints know nothing. They dream up works of their own in which there is no peace, joy, confidence, love, hope, boldness, or any of the qualities of true Christian work and faith.

After this he digresses and makes a pleasant excursion, telling whence come sin and righteousness, death and life, and comparing Adam and Christ. He means to say that Christ had to come as a second Adam bequeathing his righteousness to us through a new spiritual birth in faith, just as the first Adam bequeathed sin to us through the old fleshly birth. Thus he declares and proves that no one by his own works can raise himself out of sin into righteousness, any more than he can prevent the birth of his own body. This is proved also by the fact that the divine law -- which ought to assist toward righteousness, if anything can -- has not only not helped, but has even increased sin. For the more the law forbids, the more our evil nature hates the law, and the more it wants to give reign to its own lust. Thus the law makes Christ all the more necessary, and more grace is needed to help our nature." [Luther's Works AE 35:374-75]

Don't you just love all of that?

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, rejoice because there was death for us in Adam, but now we have eternal life in Jesus Christ!

Yes, we now have peace with God through faith in Christ!

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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