Stöckhardt: Little Sheep Avert Their Eyes from the Goal of Life

The apostle says in Romans chapter four how one gains eternal life where he deals with the doctrine of justification, from verse 13 on about the inheritance. He emphasizes in Romans 5:9 that the ones being justified, someday are kept from wrath, and Romans 5:17 that those who have received the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness someday will reign in life. In other words: Where there is righteousness, where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. The critical question is then expressed fully: how are we justified and saved before God. And who, then, would not like to be saved? Every shepherd of souls has the experience that his little sheep avert their eyes all too easily from the actual purpose and goal of life and want to lose themselves in earthly matters in their thoughts, questions, concerns, that honor and respect among men, temporal goods and happiness is still far too much among them. Now he thus puts the question in the foreground, in the center, again and again in public preaching, as well as in private, when he deals with individuals: How will you be justified before God? How will you get along with God? No one can escape from the length of the hand and the judgment of God. Each one must come to grips with God. How? Should this not be your main concern: that you may obtain a merciful verdict where men may not have a say, where men can no longer help you; that you may inherit eternal life when this temporal life with all its goods and pleasures has vanished?

– Georg Stöckhardt, “The Practical Treatment of the Doctrine of Justification”

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