Luther on salvation as total exchange

“Is not this a joyous exchange . . . the rich, noble, pious bridegroom Christ takes this poor, despised, wicked little harlot in marriage, redeems her of all evil and adorns her with all his goods?” (LW 31:352).

“Therefore Paul would like to draw us away completely from looking at the law, sin, and death, and other evil things, and to transfer us to Christ, in order that there we might see this very joyous duel: the law battling against the law, in order to become liberty to me; sin battling against sin, in order to become righteousness to me; death battling against death, in order that I might have life.  For Christ is my devil against the devil, that I might be a son of God; he destroys hell, that I might have the kingdom of heaven” (LW 26:24).

“John the Baptist called Christ ‘the Lamb of God’ (John1:29). He is, of course, innocent because he is the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. But because he bears the sins of the world, his innocence is pressed down with the sins and the guilt of the entire world.  Whatever sins I, you, and all of us have committed or may commit in the future, they are as much Christ’s own as if he himself had committed them.  In short, our sin must be Christ’s own sin, or we shall perish eternally. . . “Isaiah 53:6 speaks the same way about Christ. It says: ‘God has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ These words must not be diluted but must be left in their precise and serious sense.  For God is not joking in the words of the prophet; he is speaking seriously and out of great love, namely, that this Lamb of God, Christ, should bear the iniquity of us all” (LW 26:278-79).

“Our comfort is that we must not suppose Christ to be an idle king, raised again and glorified for his own sake alone. But we should learn he is the fountain of justice and the head of truth, life, and all good things — and the kind of fountain that causes life to flow in those who are marked by death, and righteousness in those who are oppressed by sin”  (LW 12:147).

“Beware of striving after such purity that you are not willing to appear as or even to be the sinner you are. . . . Only in him, with complete despair in yourselves and your works, will you find peace; learn above all from this that he takes on you and your sins and gives to you his righteousness” (WA Br 1:35; 24-27).

“A testament . . . is a promise made by one about to die in which he designates his bequest and appoints his heirs. . . If you have a letter and seal and believe, desire, and seek it [your inheritance], it must be given to you even though you were scaly, scabby, stinking, and most filthy” (LW 35:88).

“Just as the patient who is too anxious to recover can surely have a serious relapse, we must also be healed gradually and for a while put up with certain weaknesses. . . . For Christ carries all our sins, and thus they are no longer ours but his, and his righteousness in turn is ours” (LW 25:254).

“Thus a Christian is righteous and sinner at the same time, holy and profane, an enemy of God and a child of God.  None of the sophists will admit this paradox because they do not understand the true meaning of justification.  This is why they forced men to go on doing good works until they would not feel any sin at all” (LW 26:232).

“For this reason we must reject those very ancient and deep-rooted errors by which in monastic fashion we speak of Jerome or Paul as ‘holy.” In themselves they are sinners, and only God is holy, as the church sings.  Those whom we call ‘holy’ are made holy by an alien holiness, through Christ, by the holiness of free mercy. In this holiness the whole church of the faithful is the same; there is no difference” (LW 12:325).

“You cast your sins from yourself and onto Christ when you firmly believe that his wounds and sufferings are your sins, to be borne and paid for by him, as we read in Isaiah 53:6, ‘The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ I Peter 2:24: ‘In his body he has born our sins on the wood of the cross. Paul: ‘God made him a sinner for us, so that through him we would be made just’ (2 Cor 5:21). You must stake everything on these and similar verses. . . . If you presume to still your conscience with your contrition and penance, you will never obtain peace of mind but will be driven to despair in the end. If we allow sin to remain in our conscience and try to deal with it there . . it will be much too strong for us and will live on forever.  Rather we are to behold it resting on Christ and see it overcome by his resurrection. Sin cannot remain on Christ since it is swallowed up by his resurrection. . . . In his suffering Christ makes our sin known and thus destroys it, but through his resurrection he justifies us and delivers us from all sin.”  (LW 42:12-13)

“World and reason have no idea how difficult it is to grasp that Christ is our justification, so deeply embedded in us – like a second nature – is the trust in works” (WABr 4.241, 28  – 242, 30, cited in Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil, 324).

“Thus a Christian is righteous and sinner at the same time, holy and profane, an enemy of God and a child of God.  None of the sophists will admit this paradox because they do not understand the true meaning of justification.  This is why they forced men to go on doing good works until they would not feel any sin at all” (LW 26:232).

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