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Christ dwells only among sinners

February 17, 2010

In my quest to read more of the writings of Herman Sasse, I came across this fantastic quote from “Luther’s Legacy to Christianity” (The Lonely Way, vol. 2, pg. 175, edited by Rev. Matthew C. Harrison).  It is very appropriate for Ash Wednesday:

“Christ cannot enter into living communion with a sinner.”  Thus the German edition of St. Thomas Aquinas interprets the statement of Thomas Aquinas that the man in the condition of mortal sin cannot be united with Christ and thus must not receive the Sacrament of the Altar.

Luther asserted the very opposite: “Christ dwells only among sinners.”  For the sinner and for the sinner alone is his Table set.  There we received his true body and his true blood “for the forgiveness of sins” [Matt 26:28], and this holds true even if forgiveness has already been received in absolution.  That here Scripture is completely on the side of Luther needs no further demonstration.  Every page of the NT is indeed testimony of the Christ whose proper office it is “to save sinners” [1 Tim 1:15], “to seek and to save the lost” [Luke 19:10].  And the entire saving work of Jesus — from the days when he was in Galilee and, to the amazement and alarm of the Pharisees, ate with tax collectors and sinners, to the moment when he, in contradiction with the principles of every rational morality, promised paradise to the thief on the cross — yes, his entire life on earth, from the cradle to the cross, is one, unique, grand demonstration of a wonder beyond all reason: the miracle of divine forgiveness, of the justification of the sinner.  “Christ dwells only among sinners.”

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From → Theology

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