Our devotional reading on the commemoration of Philipp Melanchthon comes from an essay Melanchthon himself wrote about Christian liberty. The excerpt comes from Christian Freedom: Faith Working through Love.
What is this thing which we call liberty? Is it merely an empty word, like some paradox of the Stoics or some foolishness of those who say that only the wise are free? Far different is the doctrine of the Gospel concerning freedom, of which Christ speaks when He says [John 8:36], “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” Indeed, He says, you shall be free not with some empty title or the appearance of liberty, but with true freedom. When sin is destroyed, the wrath of God appeased, death abolished, and all human calamities removed, you will be given eternal righteousness, light, life, and glory.
Christ includes the concept of complete liberty, which He Himself brings and prepares for His church by His death. To be sure, this pure freedom does indeed begin in this life, but in the resurrection it will be complete. When all evils have been destroyed, then the church will enjoy an eternal and beautiful relationship with God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We must keep in mind this eternal and complete liberty whenever we hear the word “liberty,” and at the same time remember that this begins in this life. . . .
Although the church in this life not only is held in bondage by governments but is also tormented with great calamities of other kinds, yet the doctrine of liberty gives the greatest comfort in these evils. Hercules, Priam, Agamemnon, Palamedes, Cato, Cicero, Brutus, and countless others who did not know God were afflicted. But they succumbed to their troubles, and they did not have God mitigating the outcomes or strengthening their minds. They were pressed down under eternal despair and eternal darkness regarding the providence and the righteousness of God. But Joseph, David, Jonathan, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Paul, even when they were afflicted, could still discern the presence of God, who strengthened their minds and often softened the outcome for them. And whenever they were pressed down, their sufferings were sooner or later of benefit to the church, since they knew that after this life in the resurrection they would have eternal glory. Thus in this life they have the beginning of liberty, because they have been accepted by God, are guided by Him, defended and aided, and realize that after this life they will have complete liberty. Now understand how great a blessing it is, what great liberty it is—even in the midst of troubles and in the midst of death—to have a God who is favorable toward us—our helper, our guide, and our protector. This statement about liberty sets forth true and certain things which have clear testimonies in the church and which the church, you and I, and all the godly experience.
Devotional reading is from Christian Freedom: Faith Working through Love, pages 167–70 © 2011 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Almighty and Holy Spirit, the Comforter, pure, living, true,—illuminate, govern, sanctify me, and confirm my heart and mind in the faith, and in all genuine consolation; preserve and rule over me that, dwelling in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, I may be and remain forever in the temple of the Lord, and praise Him with a joyful spirit, and in union with all the heavenly church. Amen.Prayer is from The Lord Will Answer, page 263 © 2004 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.