Salvation Unto Us Has Come

The true knowledge of the distinction between Law and Gospel is not only a glorious light, affording the correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, but without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book. – CFW Walther

28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. – Romans 3:28

The hymn “Salvation Unto Us Has Come” was written by Paul Speratus, who lived from 1484 to 1551. He assisted Martin Luther in compiling Etlich Christlich lider, a collection of early Lutheran chorales in polyphonic style for choir. Salvation Unto Us Has Come was included in that collection and has endured to this day because it is possibly the best Lutheran hymn ever written. It preaches Law and Gospel so clearly that it gives us the fullness of the Gospel story and gives us a framework from which we can understand all of Scripture. The tune is from the same collection and is also a favorite of mine. The tune is fun to sing without being excessively difficult.

Paul Speratus was born in what is now Germany in 1484 and became a preacher in 1518. He believed Luther’s teachings to be in accordance with what Scriptures teach and he was persecuted for his faithfulness to the pure Gospel. He was fired from his early preaching posts for expressing his views too openly. He was also one of the first priests to get married during the reformation period. He received his Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Vienna, but was later condemned by the Vienna faculty for defending marriage and the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. His preaching, however, became very popular with the people and he was thrown in prison for it in 1523, where he stayed for three months. It was while he was in prison that he wrote this hymn, based on Romans 3:28 (see above).

I don’t have any other comments to make about this hymn because it leaves very little unsaid. Our current hymnal includes 10 of the original 14 stanzas and we will be singing all 10 on Sunday, with some sung by the choir and one played by the organ.  I wish that all Christian churches in all places could sing this wonderful hymn on Reformation Sunday and throughout the year.

 

Salvation unto us has come

By God’s free grace and favor;

Good works cannot avert our doom,

They help and fail us never.

Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,

Who did for all the world atone;

He is our one Redeemer.


What God did in His law demand

And none to Him could render

Caused wrath and woe on every hand

For man, the vile offender.

Our flesh has not those pure desires

The spirit of the law requires,

And lost is our condition.


It was a false, misleading dream

That God His Law had given

That sinners could themselves redeem

And by their works gain heaven.

The Law is but a mirror bright

To bring the inbred sin to light

That lurks within our nature.


From sin our flesh could not abstain,

Sin held its way unceasing;

The task was useless and in vain,

Our guilt was e’er increasing.

None can remove sin’s poisoned dart

Or purify our guileful heart

So deep is our corruption.


Yet as the law must be fulfilled

Or we must die despairing,

Christ came and has God’s anger stilled.

Our human nature sharing.

He has for us the law obeyed

And thus the Father’s vengeance stayed

Which over us impended.


Since Christ has full atonement made

And brought to us salvation,

Each Christian therefore may be glad

And build on this foundation.

Your grace alone, dear Lord, I plead,

Your death is now my life indeed,

For You have paid my ransom.


Let me not doubt, but truly see

Your Word cannot be broken;

Your call rings out, “Come unto Me!”

No falsehood have You spoken.

Baptized into Your precious name,

My faith cannot be put to shame,

And I shall never perish.


The Law reveals the guilt of sin

And makes us conscience- stricken;

But then the Gospel enters in

The sinful soul to quicken.

Come to the cross, trust Christ, and live;

The Law no peace can ever give,

No comfort and no blessing.


Faith clings to Jesus’ cross alone

And rests in Him unceasing;

And by its fruits true faith is known,

With love and hope increasing.

For faith alone can justify;

Works serve our neighbor and supply

The proof that faith is living.


All blessing, honor, thanks, and praise

To Father, Son, and Spirit,

The God who saved us by His grace;

All glory to His merit.

O triune God in heav’n above,

You have released Your saving love;

Your blessed name we hallow.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Salvation Unto Us Has Come

  1. Is Half of The Story Sufficient For Salvation?

    How many sides are there to a story? If you say two, then you are wrong. If you had one side and I had one side that would make two sides. However, there is a third side, the side of truth.

    Rule # 1… One half of truth does not a truth make. Neither does one half of a story make the full story. No intelligent person can hear one side of a story and decide which side has the truth.

    Both sides have to be heard, then analysed, and then a decision has to be made as to which side (if either) has a valid story, and after that, the right side(s), or truth side, can be determined.

    This thinking holds true for discerning what Holy Scripture tells us.

    Throughout the Bible there are double standards, yet the fundamentalist thinking shows only one standard, or one side of the story, or only one half of the truth.

    Their thinking is in violation of rule # 1. With only one half of truth, you do not have truth. Anything less than the whole truth is error.

    In the following examples, side ‘A’ is the first side, side ‘B’ is the second, and side ‘C’ is the right, or truth side.

    Example # 1… Sola Scriptura…? Only the Bible. Fundamentalist thinking is that the Bible is sufficient and nothing else is needed for salvation.

    First of all, in order to believe in the ‘Bible Only’ philosophy, you have to show that Scripture says it. Is that not true? The doctrine of ‘Sola Scriptura’ is not to be found in Scripture.

    A. Tradition is condemned in many places in Scripture, such as Job 22:15, Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:3-13, Galatians 1:14, Colossians 2:8, 1Timothy 1:4, Titus 1:14, and 1Peter 1:18. Look at these verses and grasp their meaning.

    They all address ‘vain’ human traditions and are rightly condemned. This is one half of the truth.

    B. Tradition is supported in more places in Scripture than it is condemned. Study Isaiah 59:21, Luke 1:2, 2:19,51, Luke 10:16, 2Thessalonians 2:14-15 – “Stand firm and hold the traditions you have learned..”, 2Timothy 1:13,2:2, 1Peter 1:25, 1Jn 1:1,2:24, 2Jn 1:12, Revelation 12:17,19:10.

    These are different traditions than mentioned in ‘A’. These are the Traditions of GOD, or ‘Apostolic’ Tradition.’ Again, this is only half of the truth.

    C. The truth is, yes, we do condemn the vain tradition of men, as shown in ‘A’, and we must keep the Tradition of GOD, as shown in ‘B’.

    Thus we have half the truth in ‘A’, and the other half in ‘B’, and combined we have the full truth.

    The false doctrine of Sola Scriptura adds A and B together and puts the total in A, rejecting all of tradition. A+B=C.

  2. Lutheranism, believe it or not, does not pit Scripture against tradition. And yes, there is not a Scripture passage that says, “Only the Bible”, but Jesus did say, “If you continue in my Word, then you are truly my disciples.” (John 8:31).

    Concerning the hymn, perhaps you are stating that Lutherans think we must choose between Law and Gospel. We believe that the Law of God is good and wise and that it sets our sin before our eyes, however, it does not save us. We are saved by grace, through faith, not by works.

    Back to tradition, perhaps this statement from the Lutheran confessions of 1580 would be helpful:

    1] 1. We believe, teach, and confess that the sole rule and standard according to which all dogmas together with [all] teachers should be estimated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament alone, as it is written Ps. 119:105: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And St. Paul: Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed, Gal. 1:8.

    2] Other writings, however, of ancient or modern teachers, whatever name they bear, must not be regarded as equal to the Holy Scriptures, but all of them together be subjected to them, and should not be received otherwise or further than as witnesses, [which are to show] in what manner after the time of the apostles, and at what places, this [pure] doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved.

    3] 2. And because directly after the times of the apostles, and even while they were still living, false teachers and heretics arose, and symbols, i. e., brief, succinct [categorical] confessions, were composed against them in the early Church, which were regarded as the unanimous, universal Christian faith and confession of the orthodox and true Church, namely, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, we pledge ourselves to them, and hereby reject all heresies and dogmas which, contrary to them, have been introduced into the Church of God.

    4] 3. As to the schisms in matters of faith, however, which have occurred in our time, we regard as the unanimous consensus and declaration of our Christian faith and confession, especially against the Papacy and its false worship, idolatry, superstition, and against other sects, as the symbol of our time, the First, Unaltered Augsburg Confession, delivered to the Emperor Charles V at Augsburg in the year 1530, in the great Diet, together with its Apology, and the Articles composed at Smalcald in the year 1537, and subscribed at that time by the chief theologians.

    5] And because such matters concern also the laity and the salvation of their souls, we also confess the Small and Large Catechisms of Dr. Luther, as they are included in Luther’s works, as the Bible of the laity, wherein everything is comprised which is treated at greater length in Holy Scripture, and is necessary for a Christian man to know for his salvation.

    6] To this direction, as above announced, all doctrines are to be conformed, and what is, contrary thereto is to be rejected and condemned, as opposed to the unanimous declaration of our faith.

    7] In this way the distinction between the Holy Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament and all other writings is preserved, and the Holy Scriptures alone remain the only judge, rule, and standard, according to which, as the only test-stone, all dogmas shall and must be discerned and judged, as to whether they are good or evil, right or wrong.

    8] But the other symbols and writings cited are not judges, as are the Holy Scriptures, but only a testimony and declaration of the faith, as to how at any time the Holy Scriptures have been understood and explained in the articles in controversy in the Church of God by those then living, and how the opposite dogma was rejected and condemned [by what arguments the dogmas conflicting with the Holy Scripture were rejected and condemned].
    Epitome of the Formula of Concord.

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