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Fifth Sunday in Lent (1883)

John 8:46-59 Unbelief has at present inundated the whole world like a deluge. It was always in the world, but so obviously, so generally, so bold and brazen, as it now plants itself broadly and loudly, it has still never before occurred in Christendom. Otherwise one has denied or taken to task only a bit of the Bible, now one calls it a lying book without hesitation; otherwise one has probably challenged some article of faith as contrary to reason, now the entire Christian faith is called a fraud of the priests and childish superstition. But unbelief will not be as viewed instead as if he may preach contempt of God and religion, in favor of a vicious life, but rather to adorn oneself with the glorious word "light, enlightenment, and virtue", which he promises instead of the obsolete Christian faith and shameful priest rule. Many simpletons are thereby deceived. God's Word shows us what unbelief actually is. The true form of unbelief; 1. It claims to be light and enlightenment, and yet is vain darkness and foolishness; a. It claims to be light and enlightenment, we see this . in the Jews in our Gospel, for they boast that they hold fast to the ancestral religion and because Jesus testified to them that they do not do that, but His Word alone must give life and even Abraham had rejoiced over it, that He would bring this Word1, because the Jews answered they were really too wise and sensible to believe such absurd stuff2, . in today's unbelievers. The Jews still wanted to hold fast to revealed religion, our unbelievers only to natural religion. They say the light of reason is sufficient to understand God, His power, wisdom, goodness shines from the works of creation. Revealed religion may be the superstitions of past times, deceit of wicked priests who would have abused the ignorance of uneducated people for their benefit. Now in the light of the Enlightenment, the study of hidden forces of nature, etc., a sensible person could no longer believe that miracles may be possible, that there is a devil and a hell, that God became man, etc.; this would be long recognized as priestly deception; b. but it is in truth is the darkest darkness and insane foolishness; which is revealed . to the Jews; Christ asks3 and they cannot accuse Him of any sin and falsehood, nevertheless they do not believe but blaspheme - is this not darkness and foolishness (?) yet every sensible person believes what is true! Christ says4 He had confirmed His Word not by glorious miracles, had His Word not given the sick health, the dead life, the despairing hope, and instead of believing, they blaspheme?5 Finally Christ shows His divine nature that the Father Himself has confirmed.6 He could say: If you would not believe My Words, then believe the works."7 What does one call it when the bright
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John 8:51, 56. John 8:52-53, 57. 3 John 8:46. 4 John 8:51. 5 John 8:52-53. 6 John 8:54, 56, 58. 7 John 10:37-38.

midday denies the rising of the sun? What darkness and insane folly therefore was the unbelief of the Jews! It is also . in today's unbelievers; .they boast of natural religion, but have it as little as the Jews have their ancestral religion.8 The darkness of unbelief is revealed even here. .they reject the Bible, which is confirmed by the most glorious miracles. What wonderful blessings the Bible has everywhere introduced where it went! What the apostles have thus wrought among the deeply sunken Gentiles of their time that the Gentiles are astonished about the love of Christians, their steadfastness in persecution! What darkness to see and to know this, and not believe! Furthermore, the miracle of the preservation of the Bible and its propagation among all the hostility of the world! .They scoff at Christ's divinity; one acts astonished, how is this possible? Christ reigns in the world and has spread and won His kingdom, although the whole world rose against it and through what instruments? Weak sinful people; what means? only the foolish preaching of the Gospel and the holy Sacraments. - In all countries where Christ reigns with his pure words, is art, science, education, culture, if not pure, as in the Roman countries, superstition, brutality, vice! What darkness and foolishness therefore is unbelief that denies what is daily. Application must now boast what glorious light faith is, it brings true knowledge of God, certainty about life after death, etc.; 2. It claims to bring freedom and virtue, and brings only hatred of God and slavery to sin; a. unbelief claims freedom and virtue; thus . the unbelieving Jews, they reject Christ and His Word as godless, and imagine, in their ancestral religion to be pleasing to God, but what a ruthless gang they were, it shows their horrible blasphemy of Christ and attempted murder;9 . the same is among our current unbelievers, they boast of principles: Do right, fear no one, say: God does not once ask, what have you believed? but how have you lived? True divine service is to recognize and prefer God in the temple of nature, to let every freedom be in his actions, to regard all men as children of the heavenly Father, etc.; b. but is nothing than vain hatred of God and slavery to sin. One sees it among the Jews in their hostility against Christ, which is at the same time hostility against God10 and in their behavior against Christ, His apostles and the first Christians;11 . among today's unbelievers, .their ungodly way of life is evident, because even the outwardly respectable among them hold certain sins as not sins, e.g. pride, ambition, selfishness, anger, hate, lying, deception; .the general great corruption of sin that always and everywhere at the same time tears down with unbelief among a people. From where come e.g. Revolution, Socialism, Communism? from believers? No, from unbelievers. Application must show the glorious fruits of true believers among individual peoples, in the missions, in individuals (Saul, Paul); how important and necessary it should be that Christians let the light of their faith shine in good works, and to be on one's guard against the offense of a godless life.12 O.H.

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John 5:46; Acts 17:27. John 8:59. 10 John 8:54-55. 11 Acts 7 and 8. 12 Matthew 18:7-9.