The Inward through the Outward

When God sends forth his holy gospel he deals with us in a twofold manner, first outwardly, then inwardly. Outwardly he deals with us through the oral word of the gospel and through material signs, that is, baptism and the sacrament of the altar. Inwardly he deals with us through the Holy Spirit, faith, and other gifts. But whatever their measure or order the outward factors should and must precede. The inward experience follows and is effected by the outward.

God has determined to give the inward to no one except through the outward.

For he wants to give no one the Spirit or faith outside of the outward Word and sign instituted by him, as he says in Luke 16:29, ‘Let them hear Moses and the prophets.’ Accordingly Paul can call baptism a ‘washing of regeneration’ wherein God ‘richly pours out the Holy Spirit’ (Titus 3:5). And the oral gospel ‘is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith’ (Rom. 1:16).

—Martin Luther,
LW, 40:146.

Excerpts Quotes

How to Quench the Spirit

Fire is quenched by pouring on water or withdrawing fuel; so the Spirit is quenched by living in sin, which is like pouring on water; or not improving our gifts and grace, which is like withdrawing the fuel.

—Thomas Manton
Works, 9:491.


Work Made Light

The divine assistance which Christians have in their work alleviates the labor of it.

Consider the Christian’s work without this help. It is heavy indeed, yes, too heavy to stand under. But God’s helping hand put to it makes this heavy work light. The ship, which when lying on ground, all the teams in the country could not draw off, how easily is it set afloat when the tide comes in?

Thus the heart can rise out of its dullness and indisposition to duty. Oh how soon is it elevated and inspired when God flows in with His secret aspirations and excitations of His blessed Spirit and grace!

He who confessed that he could do nothing of himself, not so much as think a good thought, tells us that he is able to do all things through Christ who strengthens him.

Now this help from the Lord is promised, but it comes not till the Christian’s hand is put to work.

Let us be up and doing, and then God will not fail to be with us. It is easy working while God holds our hand, yes, and puts strength into it. Are you tempted? While you are fighting in the valley below, Christ’s hands are lifted up in heaven above for your victory. “I have prayed that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32); yes, He does not only pray above for you, but will be in the field with you, and in you, by the secret succors of His Spirit. “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9), which is not meant of grace inherent in us, that indeed is insufficient of itself, but the auxiliary grace, which He sends in to assist us in a time of need.

—William Gurnall

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