which is Christ the Lord.
Faith comes first, and it is proper that we recognize it as the
most important in every word of God. The right and gracious
faith which God demands is, that you firmly believe that Christ
is born for you, and that his birth took place for your welfare.
The gospel teaches that Christ was born, and that he did and
suffered everything in our behalf. It is not simply said, Christ
is born, but to you he is born. The true grounding of salvation
which unites Christ and the believing heart is that they have
all things in common. But what have they?
Christ has a pure, innocent and holy birth. Man has an
unclean, sinful and condemned birth. David says: "Behold, I
was shapen in iniquity ; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
Nothing can help this unholy birth except the pure birth of
Christ. But Christ's birth cannot be distributed in a material
sense, neither would that provide anything; it is imparted spiritually
through the Word; it is given to all who firmly believe,
so that no harm will come to them because of their impure birth.
In this way we are cleansed from the miserable birth we have
from Adam. For this purpose Christ willed to be born, that
through him we might be born again. Christ takes our birth
from us and absorbs it in his birth, and grants us his, that in it
we might become pure and holy, so that every Christian may
rejoice and glory in Christ's birth. Whoever does not believe
this, or doubts, is no Christian.
O, this is the great joy of which the angel speaks. This is
the comfort and exceeding goodness of God that, if a man believes
this, he can boast of the treasure that Mary is his rightful
mother, Christ his brother, and God his father. But this cannot
occur except through the faith that teaches us rightly to understand
the gospel and properly to lay hold of it. This is the only
way that Christ can be rightly known so that the conscience is
satisfied and made to rejoice. Out of this grows love and praise
to God who in Christ has bestowed upon us such unspeakable
gifts. This gives courage to suffer everything that is well
pleasing to God.