God speaks life. His final Word

(in the absolution that renews faith in him), just as his first Word (in the creation of Adam and Eve), springs from his mercy and conveys his steadfast love, his creative and creating joy at shaping creatures and children for himself. . . .

The Gospel, as a Word of re-creation and restoration, serves God as an instrument for delivering his love to those he has chosen and for doing battle in their behalf against Satan. God is the Lord of life, and Satan is a murderer. The two are in perpetual conflict with each other. God speaks truth, also in the Word made flesh, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6); Satan lies because that is his nature (John 8:44). The battle over life and death takes place, for Luther, in the confrontation of the two words, the devil’s deceit and God’s powerful, re-creative Word of life and truth. God discharges his responsibility for his creation through his Word.

In the midst of this struggle God’s chosen people remain his children. The creative Word of God has given his people their identity in his creation, as a gift, by pronouncing them his creatures and his children. For that identity flowed expectations for their performance in daily life. The righteousness of their God-given identity vanished as they mysteriously broke their relationship with God and placed their central and guiding faith in creatures rather than the Creator. The performance that flows from unfaith may approximate God’s plan for human performance but always falls short. Therefore, when God’s law evaluates sinners, it may assign a variety of grades to their activities in terms of their usefulness in human society, but in the case of the central trust, the affirmation of their identity, sinners always fail. God must restore them to faith in him; he must revive their humanity. He does so through his re-creative power in the gospel.

Robert Kolb
Bound Choice, Election, and Wittenberg Theological Method: From Martin Luther to the Formula of Concord
p. 46-48


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