One Single Christian

From “Sermon for the Ascension,” Church Postils III (1544) 

Christendom [i.e. the Christian Church] is defended and preserved on earth. God’s word and faith, or even one Christian, still remains somewhere on earth in opposition to the devil and all his angels, even in opposition to so many tyrants, sects, and false unthankful people among the Christians – yes, even in opposition to our own flesh and blood, all of which together storm against the Kingdom of Christ.  

Nevertheless, the devil with all that he can do and all that aids him cannot become so powerful that he could blot out and uproot the baptismal font from the church or the Gospel from the pulpit or the name of Christ and the flock which cling to Christ from his Kingdom in the world, even though he does not cease to attempt it… 

One single Christian can with his preaching and prayer help and preserve an entire city and country, so that the devil cannot prevent it, but must (against his will) allow many people to come to Baptism, to hear and teach the Gospel, and even for its sake, to leave alone household and government. 

For Christians that is truly called “driving out the devil, putting serpents to flight, and speaking with new tongues,” (Mark 16:17-18) … We see that these great miracles happened through Christ among us, namely that the power of the devil and the fright of death and sin have been overcome in our hearts, and so many Christians, both young and old, cheerfully die in Christ and through their faith trample the devil underfoot (Rom. 16:20; Gen. 3:15).  

St. Paul and other apostles boast everywhere about this power and strength of the Kingdom of Christ, and Christ himself boasts about this above all other miraculous signs when he says, “Behold I have given you power over all the power of the enemy…. Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirit are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven,” (Luke 10:19-20). 

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German priest and theologian, a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation. His teaching about justification by faith, revealed in his study of the Pauline Epistles, became the core of Protestant teaching about salvation, and inspired a wide-reaching series of reform in Christian ministry, worship, and spiritual practice. His Church Postils were intended to guide new pastors in interpreting the texts of the traditional Mass lectionary for congregational preaching. Martin Luther is commemorated on February 18 on the calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican Churches.  This translation of the text is from B. G. Mayes and J. L. Langebartels, eds, Luther’s Works Volume 77, Church Postils III (St. Louis: Concordia, 2014). 

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