September 20

 

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world  Galatians 6:14

 

The cross of Christ doesn’t refer just to the wood that Christ carried on his shoulders and on which he was nailed.  It also signifies, all the troubles of the faithful people whose suffering is Christ’s suffering.  Paul talks about Christians enduring these sufferings in 2 Corinthians1:5.  In Colossians 1:24, he says, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”  Therefore, the cross of Christ generally refers to all the afflictions that the church suffers for the sake of Christ.

Christ himself testifies to this in Acts 9:4 when he says, “Saul, why do you persecute me?”  Saul didn’t attack Christ.  He persecuted his followers.  But whoever touches them touches the apple of [God’s] eye (Zechariah 2:8).  We know by experience that the head is more sensitive than other parts of the body.  For if a toe or another tiny part of the body is injured, the head recognizes the feeling, and the face shows it.  The nose wrinkles, the eyes squint, and so on.  Similarly, Christ, our head, makes our afflictions his own and suffers when we, his body, suffer.

It’s helpful to remember this so that we don’t despair when our opponents persecute, excommunicate, and kill us, or when heretics hate us with such deep hostility.  We should remember Paul’s example and pride ourselves in the cross.  We have taken up this cross, not because  of our own sins, but for the sake of Christ.

 

Martin Luther, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional

 

Edited by James C. Galvin

 

Timeless insights from one of the most important people in church history. Resounding across the centuries, Martin Luther’s prolific writings as a pastor, theologian, scholar, Bible translator, father, and more, remain powerful and richly relevant. Faith Alone is a treasury of accessible devotionals taken from Luther’s best writings and sermons from the years 1513 through 1546. This carefully updated translation retains the meaning, tone, and imagery of Luther’s works such as this gem:

 

Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. Faith should be first. It is faith—without good works and prior to good works—that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone. —Martin Luther

 

Through daily readings, Luther’s straightforward approach challenges you to a more thoughtful faith. Read one brief section a day or explore themes using the subject index in the back of the book. Faith Alone will deepen your understanding of Scripture and help you more fully appreciate the mystery of faith.

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