Martin Luther on Galatians 1:3

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Puritan Board Senior
Text from St. Paul's Epistle To The Galatians, Philip S. Watson editor 1953

Grace Be With You And Peace From God Our Father, And From The Lord Jesus Christ

I hope ye are not ignorant what grace and peace meaneth, seeing that these terms are common in Paul, and not obscure or unknown. But forasmuch as we take in hand to expound this Epistle (which we do, not because it is needful, or for any hardness that is in it, but that our consciences may be confirmed against heresies yet to come), let it not be tedious unto you, if we repeat these things again, that elsewhere and at other times we teach, preach, sing, and set out by writing.

For if we lose the article of justification, we lose all things together. Therefore most necessary it is, chiefly and above all things, that we teach and repeat this article continually ; like as Moses saith of his law. For it cannot be beaten into our ears enough of or too much. Yea, though we learn it and understand it well, yet is there none that taketh hold of it perfectly, or believeth it with all his heart. So frail a thing is our flesh, and disobedient to the spirit.

The greeting of the Apostle is strange unto the world, and was never heard of before the preaching of the Gospel. And these two words, grace and peace, comprehend in them whatsoever belongeth to Christianity. Grace releaseth sin, and peace maketh the conscience quiet. The two fiends that torment us are sin and conscience. But Christ hath vanquished these two monsters, and trodden them under foot, both in this world and the world to come. This the world doth not know, and therefore it can teach no certainty of the overcoming of sin, conscience and death. Only Christians have this kind of doctrine, and are exercised and armed with it, to get victory against sin, despair and everlasting death.

And it is a kind of doctrine neither proceeding of free-will, nor invented by the reason or wisdom of man, but given from above. Moreover, these two words, grace and peace, do contain in them the whole sum of Christianity. Grace containeth the remission of sins, peace a quiet and joyful conscience. But peace of conscience can never be had, unless sin be first forgiven. But sin is not forgiven for the fulfilling of the law : for no man is able to satisfy the law. But the law doth rather show sin, accuse and terrify the conscience, declare the wrath of God, and drive to desperation. Much less is sin taken away by the works and inventions of men, as wicked worshippings, strange religions, vows and pilgrimages. Finally, there is no work that can take away sin ; but sin is rather increased by works.

For the justiciaries and merit-mongers, the more they labor and sweat to bring themselves out of sin, the deeper they are plunged therin. For there is no means to take away sin, but grace alone. Therefore Paul, in all the greetings of his epistles, setteth grace peace against sin and an evil conscience. This thing must be diligently marked. The words are easy ; but in temptation it is the hardest thing that can be, to be certainly persuaded in our hearts, that by grace alone, all other means either in heaven or in earth set apart, we have remission of sins and peace with God.
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