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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Two Seats: Judgment and Mercy

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The Collect for the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity reminded me of a gem from Luther. Below are both the collect and Luther’s words from his 1532 Sermon on the Sum of Life, a helpful commentary on the prayer.

The collect:

Almighty God, we implore You, show Your mercy to Your humble servants that we, who put no trust in our own merits, may not be dealt with after the severity of Your judgment but according to Your mercy; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever (Collect for the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity).

Luther’s words from his 1532 Sermon on the Sum of Life:

For the Scriptures teach me that God established two seats for men, a judgment seat for those who are still secure and proud and will neither acknowledge nor confess their sin, and a mercy seat for those whose conscience is poor and needy, who feel and confess their sin, dread his judgment, and yearn for his grace. And this mercy seat is Christ himself, as St. Paul says in Rom. 3 [:25], whom God has established for us, that we might have refuge there, since by ourselves we cannot stand before God. There shall I take my refuge when I have done or still do less than is meet and done much more of sin according to the law, both before and after my sanctification and justification. There my heart and conscience, regardless of how pure and good they are or can be in the sight of men, shall be as nothing, and they shall be covered over as it were with a vault, yea, with a fair heaven, which will mightily protect and defend them, the name of which is grace and the forgiveness of sins. Thereunder shall my heart and conscience creep and be safe (AE 51:278).

Stephen PreusComment