Christ stilling the waves

The Trumpeteer

Johann Arndt

Johann Arndt

Lo, the Kingdom of God is within you

(Luke 17:21)

Since everything is based on the rebirth and renewal of man, God included everything that must occur spiritually in man in faith in the external Scriptures, and in them described the whole new man. Since God’s word is the seed of God in us, it must bring forth spiritual fruit and it must do so through faith in the manner taught and testified externally in the Scriptures or it is a dead seed and a dead birth. What the Scripture teaches I must experience for my comfort in spirit and faith.

God did not reveal the Holy Scriptures that they may externally on paper remain a dead letter, but that they might become living in us in spirit and faith and that a completely new inner man might arise. If this does not occur, the Scriptures are of no use to us. This must occur in men through Christ in the spirit and faith as the Scriptures externally teach, as, for example, in the history of Cain and Abel. In their manner of life and qualities you can discover what is in you, namely, the old and the new man with all their works. These two are opposed to each other in you. Cain always wished to overcome and drive out Abel. This is nothing other than a battle between flesh and spirit and the enmity of the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. The flood must occur in you and this quality of flesh must be drowned. The faithful Noah must remain in you, God must make a new covenant with you and you with him. The confusion of Babel must not be built up in its pomposity in you. You must leave with Abraham and all his family, giving up everything, even your body and life, and travel alone in the will of God, so that you might achieve blessing in the promised land and come into the kingdom of God. This is nothing other than what the Lord said [in Luke 14:26]: He who does not leave father, mother, child, sister, house, field, goods, indeed life, cannot be called my disciple, that is, before he would deny Christ. You must strive with Abraham against the five kings that are in you, namely, the flesh, the world, death, the Devil, and sin. You must leave Sodom and Gomorrah with Lot, that is, the ungodly life of the world must be denied and you must not look back with Lot’s wife as the Lord said in Luke 17:32.

In a word, God gave the whole of the Holy Scriptures in spirit and faith and everything must happen in you spiritually. This is true as well of the battles of the Israelites against the pagan peoples. What is this other than the battle between the flesh and the spirit? The same is true of the whole, external, mosaic priesthood with the tabernacle, with the ark of the covenant, and with the seat of grace. This must all be in you spiritually through faith with offerings, sacrifices, and prayers. The Lord Christ must be all this in you. He has brought this all together in the new man and in the spirit and will perfect everything in faith, indeed, often in tears, for the whole Bible flows together in one centre or central point in man, just as all of nature does.

In the New Testament as well, the letters are nothing other than an external witness to that which must occur in faith in all men. The whole New Testament must be completely and totally in us and stir also with power in us, for the kingdom of God within in us. Just as Christ was conceived and born physically by the Holy Spirit in the faith of Mary, so he must be spiritually conceived and born in me. He must grow and come to life spiritually in me. Since I am created a new creature out of Christ, I must also live and walk in him. I must be with him and in him in exile and misery. I must walk with him in humility and the rejection of the world, in patience and meekness, in love. I must forgive my enemies with him, be merciful, love my enemies, do the will of the Father. I must be tempted with him by Satan and I must also conquer. I must, for the sake of truth, which is in me, be slandered, rejected, despised, attacked, and if it is necessary I must suffer death for his sake as have all his saints, as a witness to him and all the elect that he was in me and I in him and that I have lived through faith.

To be properly conformed to the image of God is to be born in him and with him, to put on Christ properly, to grow and mature with him and in him, to live in misery with him, to be baptized with his baptism, to be despised with him, to be crucified with him, to die and rise again with him, to rule and have dominion with him, and to do all this not only by bearing a holy cross but also by daily repentance and inner regret and sorrow for sin.

You must daily die with Christ and crucify the flesh or you cannot remain united with Christ as your head. Otherwise, you will not have him in you except in an external way, outside of your faith, heart, and spirit. This will not help you for he wishes to be in you, to be living, to comfort and to make you blessed.

Note that faith does everything that makes the holy Word of God alive in you and it is a living witness of all that of which the Scriptures testify. Faith is a substance and essence (Hebrews. 11:1).

Thus, it is clear enough from this how all sermons and statements of Christ ---- indeed, the whole Holy Scripture --- are directed to all men and to each man. All the prophecies and all the parables of Christ relate to me and each man in particular as well as do all the miracles.

Therefore, it is also written that it is to occur spiritually within us. Since Christ has helped others he will help me for he is in me and he lives in me. He has made the blind see. I am spiritually blind; therefore, he will make me also to see. Thus it is with all the miracles. Therefore, acknowledge yourself as a blind person, a lame person, a cripple, a deaf person, as one exposed, and he will help you. He made the dead live again. I am dead in my sins and , therefore, he must make me live again, so that I have a part in the first resurrection.

In a word, faith does all that in a man of which the Scripture testifies externally. It describes the image of God externally and that image must come to be in me through faith. It describes the kingdom of God externally in letters and it must come to be in me through faith. The Scripture describes Adam, his fall and renewal, and all these things must be in me. The Scripture describes the New Jerusalem, which must be in me and I must be it. The Scripture testifies externally concerning the new birth, the new creature, and this all must be in me and I must be it through faith or the Scripture is of no use. This is all faith and the work of faith in us, indeed God’s work and the kingdom of God in our hearts.

Johann Arndt; Lutheran mystic

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