Therefore we should know that Christians should walk in the kind of life that has been commanded and approved by God, so that whether waking or sleeping, eating or drinking, you may be able to say: “This I do in the name of the Lord, not because of my own judgment or choice.” Then at last whatever you have done or suffered will be pleasing to God, and you will see Him playing with you throughout your life in a very friendly manner.
Luther’s works, vol. 7: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44 p 355
We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. … Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.
2. These have all declared to us that there is one God, Creator of heaven and earth, announced by the law and the prophets; and one Christ the Son of God. If any one do not agree to these truths, he despises the companions of the Lord; nay more, he despises Christ Himself the Lord; yea, he despises the Father also, and stands self-condemned, resisting and opposing his own salvation, as is the case with all heretics.
IRENÆUS: Against Heresies: Book III
Preach in such a way that people in the congregation would think: “He means me. Sure enough, he has described me – a hypocrite – exactly as I am.” On the other hand, you, the preacher, would have to describe a person afflicted wit temptation so plainly that this victim of tribulation would have to admit: “That is my condition, without a doubt.” Conversely, when listening to the preacher, a penitent person would think: “That comfort is meant for me; I need to embrace it.” At the same time, an alarmed soul must be led to think: “Oh, what a joyous message. He means me!” Yes, the impenitent, too, must be made to acknowledge: “That pastor has me down to a T.”
Accordingly, a preacher must understand how to depict accurately the inward condition of every one of his hearers. But a mere objective presentation of the various doctrines is still not enough. Some pastors might be orthodox and might have understood pure doctrine, yet sometimes they are not in personal communion with God. they have not yet settled their account with God and have not yet attained assurance that their debt of sins has been paid. How can such people prepare a Christian sermon? Here is where the saying popular with the pagans applies: “True oratory is a matter of the heart,” Indeed, the distinction between Law and Gospel is properly learned only in the school of the Holy Spirit – in tribulation.
Law & Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible by C. F. W. Walther (A Reader’s Edition) p 60
These examples have been set before us in order that we may learn to imitate and follow them. Although the suffering of Christ should be before our eyes continually above all, yet the weaker examples of the fathers affect us more than that sublime example of the Son of God. In Christ there was a greater humiliation than in all the fathers. But it does not enter our heart, for the fact that we know that Christ is God stands in the way. The patriarchs, however, move us more strongly. They were men like ourselves in all things when they were involved in extreme difficulties. Christ’s example is more wonderful in the sacrament and in the gift by which He became our Redemption and Salvation.
Luther’s works, vol. 7: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44 p 327-328
Since, therefore, there exist among them error and misleading influences, and magical illusions are impiously wrought in the sight of men; but in the Church, sympathy, and compassion, and steadfastness, and truth, for the aid and encouragement of mankind, are not only displayed without fee or reward, but we ourselves lay out for the benefit of others our own means; and inasmuch as those who are cured very frequently do not possess the things which they require, they receive them from us;—[since such is the case,] these men are in this way undoubtedly proved to be utter aliens from the divine nature, the beneficence of God, and all spiritual excellence. But they are altogether full of deceit of every kind, apostate inspiration, demoniacal working, and the phantasms of idolatry, and are in reality the predecessors of that dragon who, by means of a deception of the same kind, will with his tail cause a third part of the stars to fall from their place, and will cast them down to the earth. It behoves us to flee from them as we would from him; and the greater the display with which they are said to perform [their marvels], the more carefully should we watch them, as having been endowed with a greater spirit of wickedness. If any one will consider the prophecy referred to, and the daily practices of these men, he will find that their manner of acting is one and the same with the demons.
IRENÆUS: Against Heresies: Book II
Thus we, too, pass this life in dreams. But it is not yet clear that we are sleeping. We have not yet been freed from sleep. But there will come a time when we shall be aroused and our eyes will be opened, provided that we can believe the Word of God. But if we cannot lay hold of the great confidence in our hearts which the truth and strength of God’s promises requires, at least we should believe in our feeble way, as the fathers did, and not murmur or become weary in our praying and crying out to God. Thus Jacob undoubtedly prayed; for where prayer remains, there the promise and faith must be. Although it is a dimly burning wick (Is. 42:3), yet it does not rage against God. No, it sobs, and with this unutterable groaning the Holy Spirit is joined (cf. Rom. 8:26). He does not let you murmur and be broken by impatience. Therefore if you cannot believe, praise, and pray as you were accustomed to do in prosperity, at least do so as is customary and can be done in adversity. Trust and pray, as is written: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Ps. 50:15).
These things must be set before the church for the strengthening of our faith, lest we fall away from God when we are tried and plagued somewhat harshly. For finally we shall see that our life, no matter how troublesome, has been like a sleep. And although we seemed to be in hell, we shall soon be awakened and shall realize that we have been carried into heaven. We shall wonder at that sudden elevation—an elevation which formerly we were not able even to dream of.
Luther’s works, vol. 7: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44 p 319
It is therefore better and more profitable to belong to the simple and unlettered class, and by means of love to attain to nearness to God, than, by imagining ourselves learned and skilful, to be found [among those who are] blasphemous against their own God, inasmuch as they conjure up another God as the Father.
IRENÆUS: Against Heresies: Book II