Erasmus Sarcerius (1501-1559) on the Gospel

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Erasmus Sarcerius (1501-1559) was a Lutheran Reformer. In the excerpt below, which is a very good read overall, I would just like to point out to Reformed readers of this blog (this blog being Confessionally Reformed after all) to note that Sarcerius presents a more Lutheran ordo salutis under the heading “the effects of the Gospel” by placing repentance before faith. Nonetheless, it is definitely worth the read:

“Of the Gospel.

Distinction.

The Gospel is a preaching of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name.

Probation.

The distinction is made of the parts of the Gospel and appears by the words of Christ whereafter his resurrection he said to his disciples. Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise again from death, the 3rd day, and that repentance and redemption of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, &c. Christ is the person and for whom forgiveness of sins chances.

Cause.

The cause of the Gospel disclosed is the mercy of God, by which God promised them glad tidings to mankind concerning Christ [Eph. 1.]. This cause the apostle otherwise calls the acceptable pleasure of God, otherwhiles grace. The promise also may be the cause of the Gospel according to the saying of Paul, put a part to preach the Gospel of God which he promised before, &c.  Hither unto belong also such places of Scripture as contain the promises of the Gospel which first was made to Adam and afterward to Abraham an so by first and little, oftentimes afterward to the holy fathers [Gen, 3, 12, 16, and 22].

The Mean.

Christ is the mean or person in whom God has promised the Gospel to mankind, and in whom it was first revealed and disclosed at the time appointed that God had set with himself and determined that through him, in him, and for him should be offered to all that believe forgiveness of sins which is the very effect of the Gospel.

The Illumination of the Gospel of the promise.

The Holy Ghost lights to the Gospel which was promised in Christ and now opened.   Now man’s nature oppressed, with sin and death for the fall of Adam was the occasion of the Gospel first promised and afterward disclosed. This occasion is opened in the 3rd chapter of Genesis, where even in the very sins the Gospel is promised to Adam.

The parts of the Gospel.

There be two parts of the Gospel repentance and remission of sins. Remission of sins is the proper part of the Gospel. Repentance the mean and entrance of remission. For in repentance is acknowledged the sin, which known, the sinner is occasioned to flee to Christ as to a physician for whom sins be forgiven. And for this cause Christ begins his preaching with provoking men to repentance as it is read in Matthew from that time Jesus began to preach and say ‘repent ye, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Also in Mark, [Mark 2.]  ‘The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye and believe the Gospel,’ [Matt. 11:2].   Not that it is the proper office of Christ to preach repentance but he repeats the doctrine of John concerning penance to  the intent he might confirm the same & also that we might know that by the acknowledging of our sins which in repentance does chance we have entrance and access to Christ.

The effects of the Gospel.

The effects of the Gospel be taken commonly out of the parts and things incidentally to the Gospel, which follow remission of sins as the proper effects of the Gospel which be these. To preach repentance. This effect is certain of the example of Christ which began his preaching with repentance. Also the example of John [the] Baptist, the messenger and runner before. This effect also must necessarily go before, because without preaching of repentance, there is no occasion to come to remission of sins, for repentance is in manner the cause of faith, as hereafter shall be declared, which obtains forgiveness. Item: to preach remission of sins in Christ, for the promise of the Gospel was made in Christ and disclosed in Christ, for the obtaining of remission of sins.

Also these effects. To preach justification in Christ, and that our reconciliation with God the Father is in Christ. To preach that we be righteous and well taken of GOD the Father for Christ’s sake. To preach the giving of the Holy Ghost, and of the everlasting life in Christ. To teach that the conscience is in rest and quiet through Christ, as witnesses Paul, we have peace towards God by our Lord Jesus Christ [Rom 5].

The Liberty of the Gospel.

To teach that the will of God for now works or merits of our own, but only for Christ. And this is the very true liberty of the Gospel, to know that we be reconciled and made at one with God through Christ although we satisfy not the law. Hither pertain the places of Scripture which be concerning the promise of the New Covenant or Testament, as Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36, &c. To teach true worship of GOD, true faith & fear which worship was almost out of use and lost by reason of human and physical constitutions, as the prophets everywhere complain.

These effects be universal and frank even as the Gospel is a frank promise universal. But that the effects of the Gospel chance not to all men is because all men believe not.  For faith is the mean whereby the effects of the Gospel be purchased.”

– Erasmus Sarcerius (1501-1559), Common Places of Scripture, 59-60

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