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True Theology about the True God

July 02, 2018
By Martin Luther

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy.

PSALM 51:1

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True Theology about the True God

 

This picture of a gracious and merciful God is a picture that gives life. By it he shields the pronoun "on me,” throws wrath into the corner, and says, "God is gracious." This is not the theology of reason, which counsels despair in the midst of sin. David feels sin and the wrath of God, and yet he says, "Have mercy on me, O God." Reason does not know this teaching, but the Holy Scriptures teach it, as you see in the first verse of this psalm. The individual words are purely and chastely placed, but they are the words of the Spirit which have life. From them spiritual men learn to distinguish between sinner and sinner, between God and God, and learn to reconcile the wrath of God or the wrathful God with man the sinner. . . . This is true theology about true God and the true worship of God. It is false theology that God is wrathful to those who acknowledge their sins. Such a God is not in heaven or anywhere else, but is the idol of the perverse heart. The true God says (Ezekiel 33:11): "I do not want the death of the sinner, but that he might turn from his way and live." This is proved also by the present example of David and his prayer.

From Commentary on Psalm 51 (Luther's Works 12:321-22)

July 2

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