No Work is Christ

Easter 5 Thursday

John 14:6

“Jesus says to him: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to Father except through me.”

Although most men walk about in unbelief and do not think anything of the future life – otherwise they should be at least as busy about the future life as about the temporal one– the article concerning the future life does not allow itself to be completely forgotten. For from time to time must arise the thought: “Boy, how it will turn out when God calls you out of this world today or tomorrow? Here you had food and drink; you had plenty of money, honor, possessions, and power. But what will you have or find there?” Such thinking cannot always remain outside one’s mind. At times it will touch the heart and make it restless. And, without a doubt, many forms of worship were established out of this thought even among the pagans. Accordingly, you see that many of them led an honorable, disciplined, fine life, hoping that our Lord God would allow them to enjoy it after this life. … Our papists do the same: They think that when they do what they consider to be good and holy God will not deny heaven to them. This is how people make for themselves a way to God and eternal life, either by means of the law or by such works that they choose for themselves as holy and God-pleasing. This is where our dear Lord Christ warns and teaches us: If we want to find the way to the Father rightly and not go astray, neither the law or this or that good work will do it. For there is only a single way: himself. Those who go to the Father through him, the Lord Christ, will get to the Father. Those who do not walk through him shall not be helped by the law, by their holy life, or by anything in heaven and on earth. For just as there is only one true Christ, the Son of God born of the virgin Mary, so there is only one way. But those who make a different way also make a different Christ, no doubt about it. And it must also follow that such a Christ is false and that the way is erring, leading into the abyss of hell and not to eternal life. Now, this is the doctrine on whose account unrest and all misfortune has been created in the world. Cain hated it, Genesis 4:3-8. … The Jews resented it when the prophets rebuked their sacrifice and worship and did not allow them to be the true way to heaven. … Our Papists today also cannot stand it. … If you say to them: “No, if you want to be saved, you must take a different way. Your way will lead you into the abyss of hell” – if you say that, then fires erupt everywhere; everybody criticizes such teaching that it is heresy; that you forbid good works; that you seduce the people. You see that this is how it goes these days. Now, what is one to say to a person plagued by fears about the future life? Consider what Christ here says; then you can become certain in the matter. Christ talks about the way to the Father where you are to find eternal rooms. And he puts it plainly: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Now, as has been said before, there is only one Christ; and it is not possible that this or that work, or even the law, can be said to be Christ. Now, if Christ alone is the way, the truth and the life, and if no work – no matter how holy, great, and precious it may be – can be praised to be Christ himself, then it must follow that law, sacrifice, all good works, the Ten Commandments of God themselves, all chastity, discipline, honesty, and whatever you may name, are not the way to salvation and to the Father. Those who have no more than such works are, and must remain, on the wrong way, in the lie, and in death, until they come to this way that is called Jesus Christ.

 

St. Louis ed., 13.1:1134-1136.

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