Saturday, June 10, 2006

God's Work Alone

It is not in my power or hand to fashion the hearts of men as the potter molds the clay and fashion them at my pleasure [Ecclus. 33:13]. I can get no farther than their ears; their hearts I cannot reach. And since I cannot pour faith into their hearts, I cannot, nor should I, force any one to have faith. That is God's work alone, who causes faith to live in the heart. Therefore we should give free course to the Word and not add our works to it. We have the jus verbi [right to speak] but not the executio [power to accomplish]. We should preach the Word, but the results must be left solely to God's good pleasure. . .We must first win the hearts of the people. But that is done when I teach only the Word of God, preach the gospel. . .when you have won the heart, you have won the man. . .

In short, I will preach it, teach it, write it, but I will constrain no man by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion. . . I did nothing; the Word did everything. Had I desired to foment trouble, I could have brought great bloodshed upon Germany; indeed, I could have started such a game that even the emperor would not have been safe. But what would it have been? Mere fool's play. I did nothing; I let the Word do its work. What do you suppose is Satan's thought when one tries to do the thing by kicking up a row? He sits back in hell and thinks: Oh, what a fine game the poor fools are up to now! But when we spread the Word alone and let it alone do the work, that distresses him. For it is almighty and takes captive the hearts, and when the hearts are captured the work will fall of itself.
MARTIN LUTHER

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