In a recent comment on this site Rev. Paul T. McCain offered a snippet of a sermon by C.F.W. Walther. I reproduce it here for your edification. Thank you, Pr. McCain!
By way of a preface, McCain writes: “Here are some great quotes from a model sermon demonstrating how Lutherans faithfully preach and teach about justification and sanctification, as well as how proper Biblical parenesis is a part of their sermons.”
The question is not whether we are already perfect, for that is impossible in this life; the question is only whether we are among those who actually pursue the goal of sanctification, or whether we still are secure and dead in sins. If we are among those running the spiritual race, if we pursue this treasure, how happy we are! That is a sign that we are made alive through grace.
Justification is instantly complete because everyone immediately receives complete forgiveness of his sins, the entire righteousness of Christ, and each becomes a child of God as well as apostles Peter, Paul, and all the great saints. Sanctification, on the other hand, comes after justification. At first it begins weakly and though it must grow until death, it never becomes perfect.
The subject matter of sanctification is not how a person becomes righteous, but how a person who has already become righteous lives from day to day. It is is not about asking what the tax collector had to do to go home justified, but how the tax collector lived in his home after he returned justified.
Sanctification does not consist in this, that a person no longer curses, commits adultery or lives in the gross works of uncleanness, gets drunk, or openly deceives and lies. Even the heathen can abstain from such out and out vice; but sanctification consists in this, that the justified person becomes an entirely different person. … Even if he is busy at his earthly calling, he does it with a mind directed to God. He also begins to watch over his thoughts and desires; no longer can he indifferently let evil thoughts go through his mind and if they do arise, he prays against them. He hates sin; he no longer fosters sin with great care. He does not let them rule over his will, but battles against sin, even his pet sins. If out of weakness he heedlessly falls into sin, he does not continue in it but is ashamed of himself, and confesses it to God with heartfelt humility and prays for forgiveness. He lets his fall serve as a warning, becoming only more humble and watchful over himself.Dear friends, you who are even now engaged in this struggle, continue courageously in it. Do not spare yourself. Do not fight in your own power, though; daily draw from the fount of divine grace in Christ Jesus and you will not fall fatally injured but will finally carry the field and obtain the victory. Amen.
[From a sermon on Mark 7:31-37 by C.F.W. Walther (Gospel Sermons, Volume 2, CPH: 2013)]
- “Man’s Working Together With God After Conversion” -or- “C. F. W. Walther was a dirty pietist, evidently”
- “The Restoration of the Divine Image Through Christ” ~ A Sermon by C. F. W. Walther on Mark 7:31-37
- Selected Sermons of C.F.W. Walther, American Lutheran Classics Volume 9
- The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel by C.F.W. Walther, American Lutheran Classics Volume 7