Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther’
Having come face to face with my own sinfulness, my own lack of keeping the law of God, I have spent the last several months looking at the law and the gospel. While this is not new to Christianity, it is fairly new to me. I grew up in a church environment that was heavy on the law. You keep the law and God was happy. Break the law (which was often), God is now angry with you. The gospel was not the end but only a step to helping me keep myself clean. It was not Jesus period. It was Jesus who now enables me to keep the law and when I fail, back to the beginning.
We all sin. None of us are perfect. We read passages such as Romans 3:23 and acknowledge the universal sinfulness of mankind. But we miss the point that we are sinners ourselves. I am not arguing that we wake up each day thinking “what can I do today to violate the law of God” but we do sin. Whether we make sins into categories such as “sins of omission” and “sins of commission,” either way we do sin. Apart from grace, none of us can stand before a holy God. It is only through Christ that we can stand before a holy and totally pure God. The reason Christ died for my sins is not simply to enable me to be holy on my own power but He died because I am a sinner in need of forgiveness because I do sin (1 John 2:1-2).
Consider the command of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40:
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Stop and consider how you are doing with that one? I’m not even good at it. I would love to say that I love God perfectly as Jesus taught. I would love to tell you that my love for God flows into loving my neighbor as myself. But the reality is that I fall way short of these two commands and Jesus said that law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. Do these and you’ll be perfect! But I don’t!
And thus the gospel comes into play. The law condemns me as a sinner (Romans 3:19) and the law teaches me that I need a Savior (Galatians 3:24). The law condemns me. The gospel saves me. The law shows me that I am a sinner (Romans 7:7). There is nothing wrong with the law of God (Romans 7:12) but the problem is me. I can’t keep the law. No matter how hard I try, I fail.
The gospel preaches peace to me. The law tells me to love God perfectly and my neighbor perfectly (Matthew 5:48). The gospel tells me Christ died for my sins and the sins of not loving God perfectly nor my neighbor as myself. The law tells me to love my wife as Christ loves His Church (Ephesians 5:25). The gospel tells me that Christ died for the sin of not loving my wife as Christ loves His Church (I am far from a perfect husband). The law tells me to pray, to worship, to evangelize, to give my money to the poor and to helping the kingdom of God, to do good to my neighbor especially of those of the household of faith, etc. but the gospel tells me that Christ died for my sins even the sins of not keeping the law perfectly.
Martin Luther taught two (and I would add a third) uses of the law. Lutherans debate the third use of the law. The three uses of the law are:
- For society, to curb man’s sinfulness.
- To condemn us a sinners and show us our need for salvation.
- To help the Christian in sanctification.
These three uses of the law are seen not just in the Bible but in life. Antinomians accept the first two uses of the law but not the third. I believe in preaching all three. Christians need to hear the law so that the Holy Spirit can help us in the process of sanctification. So for example a believer hears that we should pray (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer itself doesn’t justify us before God. We are justified only through Christ Jesus alone by grace alone though faith alone. Yet none would say that prayer is bad. Yet prayer can become a law. It was that way for me. I once held that a person should pray for 2 hours a day or God was not pleased. Prayer became a law and gospel for me. But prayer is not the gospel. The gospel is the death of Jesus for our sins and His resurrection for our justification (Romans 4:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Thus Jesus died for my sin of prayerlessness. Does this mean that I should not pray since Jesus died for my sin of prayerlessness? By no means! The key is to see prayer as flowing from my forgiveness and not from the law. I pray because Christ shed His blood for me (Hebrews 4:14-16).
This holds true of any law. The law if holy and good (1 Timothy 1:8-11). The law shows me how far I am far from the perfection of God. But the gospel shouts to me that I am accepted in the Beloved. I am holy before God because of Christ (Hebrews 10:10, 14) and not by my works. The law tells me to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16) and this is good. The gospel tells me that I am accepted in Christ Jesus who bled and died for my sins (Romans 5:6).
This understanding of the law and the gospel has blessed me. It has brought some joy to my soul where joy has been lacking. For so long I have been full of pride, my own self-righteousness. I thought God was honored by my prayer life, my evangelism, my passion for God. Like Voddie Bauchman preaches, my works-righteousness muscle likes to flex. I would have, in the past, gladly acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and would have gladly told you that I was saved by His grace alone but in reality I was full of pride, thinking more highly of myself than I ought (Philippians 2:3). I would have preached Christ but my focus was not on pleasing Christ per se but on men seeing how much I “loved” Jesus. Oh how much pride was in my heart! Oh wretched sinner that I was!
But Christ died for me. Christ bled and suffered for my sins. Jesus gave His life for my sins and now I am forgiven not because I keep the law but because I can’t keep the law (Galatians 3:10). Christ suffered in my place, for my sins (Galatians 3:13-14). I am saved now not because I keep the law but because of faith in Jesus Christ who gave His life for my sins. What a blessing! What a Savior!
I have no problem with the law. The law is good. The law comes from our holy God. Yet too many Christians try to live the law. You will always be falling short. Always. You will never obtain holiness by the law. Even if you think (as I did) that I had obtained a level of holiness by my striving, inside (like me) you’ll know that you stand condemned because you can’t keep the whole law (James 2:10). I have no problem preaching the law and calling Christians to repent of not keeping the law. But the balance of this is the gospel. The answer to not keeping the law is not more law. The answer is the gospel. The law condemns us as sinners. The gospel comforts us by pointing to Christ who died for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
Perhaps I am wrong on this. I don’t think so. I believe it’s biblically based. I know that this teaching has pushed me closer to Christ and not away. I still hate sin. I really do hate sin. I acknowledge that I do sin but I hate my sins. I am so grateful to God for giving me His Son for my sins (John 1:29). I stand condemned but Christ preaches to me no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Satan accuses me of sin and he is right to do so. But I trust in Christ alone for my salvation (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus has promised not only to save me from my sins (Matthew 1:21; Romans 6:1-4) but He has promised to keep me (Jude 24-25). I trust in Christ alone and not my works-righteousness before a holy God.
Happy Reformation Day! On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the church door in Wittenberg in Germany and launched the Protestant Reformation. As Arminians, we are children of the Reformation! Arminius comes from a long line of great Reformers in the Church including Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Knox, and many others.
I pray to God that He raises up more reformers who call the Church back to the Word of God and to the true doctrine of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Few realize that the word catechism comes from the Greek word katecheo which means “to instruct.” The catechism is nothing more than a tool of instruction. It uses a question and answer format to teach from. Martin Luther wrote two catechisms. The first was a larger one for adults and the second was a shorter version for children. Luther stated that he would be glad to have all his works perish except his reply to Erasmus and the catechism. John Wesley likewise favored instructing children (and adults as well) from rote. He believed in instructing children from the truths of the creeds and catechisms.
I grew up in the evangelical church and knew little about the creeds and our church had no instruction from catechisms. We would often go to an “inter-denominational” Easter service at a cemetery and it was here that I first heard of the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed. My father would instruct us to say the creed but avoid the term “catholic” as he thought that it meant “the Roman Catholic Church.”
This past Christmas Eve I attended two different Christmas Eve services. The first was at my sister’s church, an Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. The second was at an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ECLA). The first was a little formal but the gospel was included with a call to embrace Jesus as Lord this Christmas. The second service at the ECLA was formal and liturgical. I have visited a Lutheran Church before but it had been years. It was surprisingly very similar to a Catholic service. We repeated the Nicene Creed and the Christmas declaration from the Lutheran order of worship. Both were solid creedal statements about the faith and both exalted Christ. The “feel” to the ECLA was one of formality, going through the motions. I know that the ECLA is very liberal and it truly felt that way. I prayed that the people there would hear the true gospel hidden on these creeds and come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
My point here is that the evangelical church has missed out on the Creeds and the catechisms. There is much truth to be found there and it helps us to understand the basics of our faith to repeat creeds such as the Apostle’s Creed or to study from Luther’s Larger Catechism. Arminius himself studied from the Calvinist creeds and catechisms and one of his main contentions with the scholars of his day was that they viewed the creeds almost like Scripture. Arminius argued that the creeds were written by men and should be regarded as fallible and even should be corrected if shown to be wrong by Scripture. I agree.
The evangelical church has often tried to avoid creeds, catechisms and confessions because of the embracing of Scripture Alone as a main point. I would agree with Arminius and teach that the Bible alone is the Word of God and all things should be tested by the Scriptures including the Creeds and Confessions. However, I do think that we should avoid fast-food Christianity that I see in the evangelical church. I would guarantee that a seeker service church would not have read from the Creeds or repeated sayings from the catechism about the divinity of Jesus or His birth. In fact, I know of one seeker church that had Santa Claus come to their church for Christmas Eve service to pass out toys to the children. While I agree that the ECLA church needs to repent, they at least focused that night on the Lord Jesus Christ and His birth. They rightly (even if only from the mouth) acknowledged that Jesus was Lord, that He was God who came to die for us, and that He is still the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15-16). Would I love to see the ECLA repent? Of course! But I would also call the seeker church to repent as well. Both are preaching a Christ that I don’t see in Scripture.
An excellent book on this is by Dr. Carl Trueman entitled, The Credal Imperative, in which he argues that creeds should play a major part in the Church. They have for 2000 years and until recently, the creeds were part of the instruction of the Church. From the Roman Catholic Church to the Greek Orthodox Church to the early Reformers, the Creeds and Confessions played a large part in the life of the Church but largely today, evangelicals tend to cast them aside. Dr. Trueman argues that this should not be and he shows that even the early Christians appeared to have some form of creed as we see in 1 Timothy 3:16. I agree with Dr. Trueman that much is lost when the Church fails to embrace that for which martyrs laid down their lives for, that truth of God that was worth suffering and dying for. May we not do this but let us learn from the Creeds and Confessions while still embracing the authority of the Word of God.
Let me briefly give you some pointers to developing a stronger prayer life. These points have been points that I myself have put into practice in my own prayer life. No doubt we all know that God wants us to pray (Jeremiah 33:3). Jesus said that His disciples would be a people of prayer (Matthew 6:5). It was the prayer life of Jesus (and not His teaching or His miracles) that the disciples wanted to learn about the most (Luke 11:1). Paul admonished the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV) and he told the disciples in Colosse to “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2 NKJV). Revelation 5:8 records that the prayers of the saints rise up before the throne of God. How vital then prayer is to the disciple!
How can we then strengthen our prayer lives? Here are some quick points.
1. Meditate on “Prayer” Scriptures.
Meditating upon the Word of God is so important (Psalm 1:1-3). The Word of God is our delight (Psalm 119:162). Jesus said that we were to abide in His teachings (which is His Word) to be His faithful disciples (John 8:31-32; cf. Matthew 7:24-27). The Word of God is the only weapon the disciple is given to combat Satan and the lies of the world (Ephesians 6:17). We are to renew our minds which can only occur in the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2).
I advise taking the “prayer” Scriptures and writing them down where you can read and re-read them to meditate upon them. Passages such as 1 Samuel 12:23; Matthew 6:5-13; 7:7-11; 21:22; Mark 11:22-24; Luke 18:1-8; John 14:13-14; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2; etc. I would urge you to study all the major passages on prayer. A good book on this is the book, The Spirit Helps Us Pray: A Biblical Theology of Prayer.
2. Study the Lives of Great Intercessors.
Study the lives of great prayer warriors such as John Hyde, David Brainerd, Leonard Ravenhill, E.M. Bounds, Andrew Murray, Charles Spurgeon, Rees Howells, David Livingstone, John Wesley, Martin Luther, and many more. John Bunyan was a great man of prayer. William and Catherine Booth, founds of the Salvation Army, were great intercessors. Read and study their lives and imitate their faith in God (Hebrews 13:7).
3. Read Books on Prayer.
A few books that I would highly recommend would be Why Revival Tarries? by Leonard Ravenhill, The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer, Prayer by John Bunyan, A Method of Prayer by Matthew Henry, and The Path of Prayer by Samuel Chadwick.
4. Pray With Other Intercessors.
Find some men of God (if you’re a man or find women if you’re a woman) who seek God earnestly and pray with them. Lay aside your Arminianism or your Calvinism to seek God with your brethren. As long as we are orthodox in our theology over the major issues, seek God with such folks. There is so much to learn from praying with others. I first learned how to pray by praying with some older saints who are now with Jesus. They taught me how to tarry in God’s presence, how to seek God earnestly for who He is not what we can get from Him, to learn to view prayer not as merely asking for things but to know God and love on Him in worship. 1 Timothy 2:8 should guide us here.
To read on prayer or study Scripture on prayer or to meditate on prayer is not the same as praying. Prayer must be practiced. To merely talk about prayer is not the same as praying. I know of churches that faithfully preach the Word of God and can expound on prayer but if they just talk about prayer, what is the point? Prayer must be “worked” out. Prayer must be something that we don’t just study but earnestly do (James 5:16-18). The key difference between us and the early Church is not so much theology but its practice (Acts 2:42-47). Prayer is important and powerfully because of who we are seeking, the sovereign God of the universe. Let us pray!
Dr. Jack Cottrell is one of my favorite Arminian writers. His books include The Faith Once For All, What the Bible Says About God the Creator, What the Bible Says About God the Ruler, What the Bible Says About God the Redeemer, Romans, and Baptism: A Biblical Study. Dr. Cottrell teaches theology at Cincinnati Christian University which is part of the Restoration movement and the Christian Churches. I do recommend his books.
To open up our look at Dr. Cottrell’s views regarding original sin, I first will allow Dr. Cottrell to briefly give the major views regarding original sin.
1. Pelagian View of Original Sin
This view holds that all humans are born in a state of spiritual purity, without any depravity or corruption and with free will intact. All babies are born in a state of natural innocence,without bearing any guilt from the sin of Adam. Adam’s sin only affects us indirectly, in that our sin-filled environment influences us to imitate his sin. Thus Pelagianism really teaches that there is no such thing as “original sin.” Many in the Restoration movement have held to this view including Moses Lard who wrote, “there is no proof that Adam’s sin ever touched or in any affected the spirit of one of his posterity. The spirit is as free from its influence as though the sin had never been committed.”
This view is still too mild to be called “original sin” in any complete sense. This view says that the only hereditary spiritual effect of Adam’s sin is a state of partial depravity. Every baby is born partially depraved, having a soul that is corrupted with spiritual sickness or weakness with a bent or inclination toward sinning. Still, it is not a “total” depravity; free will is not lost. Also, as in the previous view, the child is born innocent, and thus free from guilt and condemnation.
This view was the view that prevailed in the early Church from Irenaeus to Augustine though of course it was not called semi-Pelagianism until after the theological conflict of Augustine and Pelagius. During the Reformation, the Anabaptists held to this view and where greatly persecuted because of it and their view of adult immersion baptism. This was also the view held by Restoration leaders such as Alexander Campbell. Campbell wrote, “We are all greatly fallen and depraved in our whole moral constitution in consequence of the sin of Adam. However, this does not involve an invincible necessity to sin; thus there is still freedom of the will nor does anyone suffer guilt and everlasting punishment as the result of Adam’s sin.”
3. Roman Catholic Church View
This view agrees in part with the above view but also adds that we all inherit a state of guilt and condemnation from Adam. An infant who thus dies in infancy remains in a state of limbo. (Note that the RCC recently rejected the teaching of limbo and instead now places the infant in purgatory instead). While the infant is in limbo, they are neither in a state of bliss nor pain.
4. Classical Doctrine of Original Sin
This view was first proposed by St. Augustine and carried over into Protestantism by Martin Luther and John Calvin. This view holds that all humans are born 1) in a state of total depravity or bondage of the will. All infants are born with a corrupt spiritual nature and his free will is gone. He is totally unable to come to faith and repentance apart from the sovereign intervention of God. 2) All are born guilty and condemned to hell because of Adam’s sin apart from the grace of God intervening.
Thus this view holds that all people are born without exception guilty sinners, lost, judicially under the wrath and curse of God. As one Calvinist writer noted, “I became a wicked guilty sinner in the Garden of Eden.”
Up next Dr. Cottrell will take on the biblical basis for original sin as held mainly by those above.
One thing is clear from reading Arminius, he was an expositor of the Word of God. It was, in fact, Arminius’ preaching through the book of Romans that he first encountered his first controversy as he begin to preach through Romans 7. Arminius taught, contrary to the teachers of his day, that the man in Romans 7 was not a saved man but was lost. He was a moral man under the law of God who was lost because the law could not save him. This led to Arminius’ disagreements with various other preachers and theologians of his day as they took exception with his exegesis of Romans 7. The disagreement would erupt into the Synod of Dort following Arminius’ early death. My point here is that Arminius was preaching verse by verse through the book of Romans. This was the common teaching form of the day for true Christians of that era. They had learned this from other great reformers before them including Martin Luther and John Calvin. Both Luther and Calvin were expository preachers. Calvin’s commentaries are from his preaching.
Yet today many preachers of the Word which would include both Arminians and Calvinists dislike expository preaching. I know few true expositors of the Word of God. The more prominent expositors are all Calvinists. Of course, we Arminians do have expositor preachers out there but they are not in the forefront like Calvinists such as John MacArthur or John Piper. Dr. Vic Reasoner, the editor for the Fundamental Wesleyan Society, is a strong proponent of expository preaching. Many Calvary Chapel brothers including Chuck Smith and Skip Heitzig are both expositors and both lean Arminian.
My cry is that God would restore expository preaching. Even among house churches, we need verse by verse teaching from anointed slaves of God. God has no doubt given us Bible teachers (Ephesians 4:11-16) and these teachers should be teaching verse by verse through the Word of God. Expository preaching, unlike other methods of preaching, focuses the teacher and the hearer upon the Word of God. Expository preaching helps the hearers learn how to interpret the Bible and teaches them how to hear from God for themselves (John 8:47). Expository preaching glorifies God because it focuses the teacher to focus on the Lord as they work through the Word of God since Jesus is the focus of Scripture (John 20:31; Colossians 1:15-20). Expository preaching keeps the focus on God, His kingdom, His salvation, His glory, His Word, and His promises instead of giving us cute stories from the teacher or personal and subjective experiences from the teacher. The teacher often is the focus when expository preaching is discarded.
So why don’t we like expository preaching in the Church today? The answers vary but let me give my own thoughts.
1. Our Flesh (Romans 3:10-18).
Expository preaching is a flesh killer. The Word of God cuts deep (Hebrews 4:12) and expository preaching takes the scalpel of the Word of God and it cuts us open before all (Hebrews 4:13). The Word of God sanctifies (John 17:17) and sanctification sometimes hurts our pride as God exposes our sins. The Word of God reveals our true feelings and true heart before God. The Word of God shows us that we are desperate, wicked sinners before a holy God (Jeremiah 17:9-10). We simply don’t like that. We want to hear that its “our best life now.” We want to hear “positive and encouraging” messages and “talks” instead of being cut by the Word of God. The last thing we want is to show up to our assemblies and hear a word from God that causes us to repent. We don’t like that.
2. Our Lack of Discipline (2 Timothy 2:15).
Topical preaching is easy. Just pick a subject and get a few Bible verses to back it up and fill it in with your own stories and illustrations and boom, you’ve got a topical sermon. Not so with expository preaching. Expository preaching makes you wrestle with the text. Expository preaching forces you to actually labor over the text and, at times, even weep over the text. Expository preaching makes the Bible teacher work through the verses. All of them. Not just the ones that you like. Expository preaching means you must deal even with difficult passages. Why? Because it is the Word of God! From Genesis to Revelation, the duty of the teacher is to proclaim all of God’s Word and not just what we feel is right or what we deem necessary for today. All of Scripture is given to us for our salvation and our instruction (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
3. Our Loss of God’s Glory In All Things (Philippians 1:20-21).
We live for ourselves. We don’t live for God. We don’t live with a focus on eternity (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). We don’t live as if this were our last day on the earth (James 4:13-17). We live focused on our needs, our comforts, our desires, our passions, our goals. Sadly, the topical driven sermon often feeds that view. Topical preaching appeals to the flesh because it means that the preaching is appealing to our flesh. I know that not all topical sermons are this way but a great many sermons I hear today are not at all focused on the Word of God but instead on the teacher or the hearer. The focus should be on the glory of God! Our aim should be to exalt Jesus in all that we say or do (Colossians 3:16-17). Jesus should be our passion and our focus. He is also our reward (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus is the one that we are seeking to please our in our Bible teaching and not people or anyone else. When Jesus is our focus, the issue of whether people will like our teachings or not is irrelevant.
4. Bible Teachers Are Not Psalm 1:1-3 People.
Psalm 1:1-3 says,
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Are you filing your mind with the Word of God each and every day (John 8:31-32)? Are you faithfully opening the Scriptures and seeking to understand them to teach them faithfully to the people of God as Ezra did (Nehemiah 8:8)? Do you spend time reading and meditating on the Word of God so that you can teach the people of God the truths of Scripture knowing that James 3:1-2 is for us? All disciples of Jesus should abide in His teachings but the faithful Bible expositor should spend hours working through the text of Scripture as they seek to understand it and apply it to their life and the lives of their hearers.
5. We Have Lost Our Sense of 2 Timothy 4:2-3.
Our passion before God should be to first exalt Him and then to prepare God’s people for service (Ephesians 4:11-16) and to protect them from theological errors (Acts 20:28). 1 Timothy 4:16 applies to us as it says, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” As we abide in the Word of God, we can be sure that God will guard our hearts from sin (Psalm 119:11) and the Word of God will enable us to faithfully proclaim His truths to the people of God. In this way, we are faithful to protect people from the errors of 2 Timothy 4:3. Do you desire this Bible teacher? Do you desire to protect the flock of God from error? I appeal to you to preach the Word of God verse by verse and you’ll be amazed at how much doctrine you will have to teach and the error in our thinking is that people will not love theology. They will. It feeds the soul (Matthew 4:4).
Expository preaching is not popular. Some churches do proclaim the Word of God verse by verse but they lack unction from heaven. We don’t need dry and stale preaching. We need anointed expository preaching that exalts Jesus Christ above all else. I don’t want a dry lecture. I want to hear from a passionate man of God what the Lord has said in His Word. We need Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, prayed up men of God who will be faithful in example and speech in the proclamation of the Word of God.
OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS, AND OF THE ANGEL SONG OF PRAISE AT HIS BIRTH.
I. THE BIRTH OF JESUS.
I. The Birth of Jesus is Treated According To History.
1. How what Haggai the Prophet wrote was fulfilled in his birth.
2. The most important circumstances of this birth. a. The time when this birth took place. 2-4.
* In what way the Gospel of Christ’s birth brings forth the right fruit. b. His mother as a poor despised and miserable person. 6-8. c. The place where this birth took place. 8-10.
3. The birth itself. a. As a pitiful birth. 11-12. b. Whether this birth took place in prayer and with great joy. c. Whether this birth took place like other births. 13-15. d. How this birth was holy, chaste, and full of wonders. 16-17. e. How high and honored this birth was in heaven. 18-20.
4. The history of the birth of Jesus is full of spirit and life. 21-23.
II. The Birth of Jesus Treated According to its Spiritual Meaning; and A. As To Faith.
1. The things whose spiritual interpretation is set forth. 24-25.
2. The spiritual interpretation itself. 26-27f.
** Concerning good works. 28-32. Two things in which a Christian should exercise himself. 33.
B. As To The Gospel.
1. The nature of the fact whose spiritual meaning is set forth. 34-35.
2. The spiritual meaning in itself, which consists in the following: a. That angels made known Christ’s birth. b. That Christ’s birth took place at midnight. c. That the light shined around the shepherds. d. That Jesus was born in Judea and in Jerusalem. 39-41. e. That the angel said, “I bring you good tidings of great joy,” “evangelizo.” 42-44.
C. As To The Signs.
1. The spiritual meaning of the swaddling clothes. 45.49.
2. The spiritual meaning of the manger.
* Christ wrapped in swaddling clothes signify faith in the Old Testament. 51-52.
D. As To The Messengers that Proclaimed Jesus’ Birth. 54-55.
E. As To The Shepherds, To Whom The Birth Of Jesus Was Proclaimed. 56-57.
* Admonition to love your neighbor. 58-60.
II. THE ANGEL’ S SONG AND PRAISE.
I. How these things are set forth in this song of praise.
A. These three things in general. 61.
B. These three things in detail.
1. God’s glory. a. This glory belongs to no one but God. b. How God is robbed of this glory in Adam. c. Christ restored this glory.
2. Peace. a. The connection of peace with the glory of God. b. This peace is a mark of true Christians. c. The foundation of this peace.
3. Good Will. a. Why the angels added this. 68-69. b. What is to be understood by this good will. 68-70. c. The need of this good will.
* He who will be agreeable to every one, must let every one be agreeable to himself. 71.
II. How we may learn from this song of praise, what kind of creatures the angels are; namely:
1. They are full of light and fire for the glory of God.
2. They are full of love to man.
* Of the birth of Christ a. Where it is described in the clearest manner. b. How it was proclaimed by patriarch and prophet. c. How it is pictured forth in many figures of the Old Testament. d. How and why we should hold firmly to it.
* The conclusion of the exposition of this Gospel. 78.