Flee from the Judgment Seat to the Mercy Seat

Pentecost 17 Friday

1 Timothy 1:5

“The chief sum of the commandment is this: Love from a pure heart and from a good conscience and from sincere faith.”

You must learn to distinguish the two teachings that are called law and gospel which we teach at all times. The law brings us before the judgment seat, for it demands from us that we are to be pious and love from a pure heart and a good conscience. It is the law’s purpose that we practice it; that far it is to go and not farther. Yet when it comes and tells you that you should figure out and do what it wants you to do, then problems start. For even if you have done it, it will not stand before God; for it will lack so many things before God–all you have not done where you do not even know what you have not done. Where do you want to go then? There the law crashes in on you and accuses you by your own conscience that testifies against you, simply demanding the judgment against you. There you must despair; and there is no help or advice for you unless you know to flee from the judgment seat to the mercy seat. E.g., a bishop who was pious and lived well may die in his holiness and only know Christ as a strict Judge, as he was preached and presented to the people previously and as he, in fact, also is (not for his sake, for he is nothing but utter grace and comfort, but because they do not hold or experience him differently in their hearts)–look, this bishop gets in his own way and no one can help him due to his ignorance leading him to see no difference between the judgment seat and the mercy seat; thus, he must fail and remain under the judgment seat. Yet we teach that we should learn and perceive Christ as the one who, for the poor timid consciences who believe in him, sits, not as a judge who wants to be angry and punish, but as a gracious, kind, comforting Mediator between my terrified conscience and God, 1 Timothy 2:5. He says to me: If you are a sinner and terrified; if the devil wants to drag you before the judgment seat by the law, only come and cling to me and fear no
wrath. Why? Because when you believe in me, I sit here so as to step between you and God, so that no wrath and disfavor can strike you. For if wrath and punishment are to come your way, they must first overcome me; yet that is impossible. For Christ is the dear child in whom dwells all grace so that, when the Father looks at him, everything must be utter love and favor in heaven and on earth; all wrath must be extinguished and disappeared.

St. Louis ed., 9:904-905

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