Posts tagged “Justification

Sermo Dei: Trinity 1, 2017

Posted on June 18th, 2017

God built fatherhood into man’s nature. God made man and blessed him for fatherhood. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1.28). Man was made for fatherhood. The man we call Abraham is—as you can see from today’s Old Testament reading (Gen. 15:1-6)—originally named Abram. Abram means “exalted father.” That refers to God, Our Father. Abram, named for the Father, wants to be a father himself. Abram wants a son. But he is old, and his wife is old. Some of you know how difficult it can be to conceive a child. And as the years go by, you feel worthless, and hopeless. That’s where Abram and his wife Sarai are. They didn’t have the many options that confront…

Harmony in the Church

Posted on July 5th, 2016

I’m blessed with a singing church. Immanuel gladly tackles any hymn in the book. They sing the hymns well, and can often be heard breaking out into four-part harmony. Singing in this way is an important metaphor for the life of the congregation beyond the liturgy. Harmony—bringing our differently ranged voices together in coordinated song—is also how we live together as Christians. Harmony is how we live together as Christians. In discussing the central article of the Christian Faith—justification—our Lutheran Confessions address the importance of harmony, a life together built by not holding sins against our brothers and sisters: In all families and communities harmony should be nurtured by mutual aid, for it is not possible to preserve tranquility unless men cover and forgive certain…

He abides in us physically

Posted on November 14th, 2014

In his glorious work “This Is My Body,” Luther speaks about the forgiveness of sins being a great benefit of the Supper. In addition to this, there is what he calls the “bodily benefit,” a union with Christ that is both spiritual and physical. Christ “wills to be in us by nature,” says Luther, citing Hilary, “in both our soul and body, according to the word in John 6 [!], ‘He who eats me abides in me and I in him.’” If we eat him spiritually through the Word, he abides in us spiritually in our soul; if one eats him physically, he abides in us physically and we in him. As we eat him, he abides in us and we in him. For…

Paradoxical Preaching

Posted on November 14th, 2014

Adolf Köberle’s classic The Quest for Holiness contains much helpful material that addresses some of the modern aversion to sanctification. In the chapter “Sanctification as the Answer of the Justified Sinner,” Köberle insists that the faithful Lutheran preacher will preach, in line with the Augsburg Confession, both justification (AC IV) and the new obedience (AC VI). Far-reaching consequences for Christian preaching spring from this paradoxical experience that conscience has made of God’s sole activity in effecting salvation and man’s sole responsibility for his own destruction. If preaching is to do justice to this paradoxical combination it must always speak both in dogmatic and ethical terms; in the indicative and imperative, not in the sense of synergistic combination but in the sense of that incomparable antinomy: “Work…

Sermo Dei: All Saints Sunday 2014

Posted on November 2nd, 2014

All Saints Day is November 1; at Immanuel we celebrate the festival on the first Sunday in November. It’s a day for martyrs. The term martyr is from martyria, Greek for witness; on special days, we remember martyrs for their martyria, their witness to Christ in life and death. Some martyrs, like Ss. Peter & Paul, St. James the Brother of Our Lord, St. Lucia, Ss. Perpetua & Felicity, these martyrs all have a day when the church remembers them. All Saints is a festival to remember all the martyrs who don’t get their own day. That number grows daily, as our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere have fulfilled in their bodies the words of Jesus, “Blessed are those who…

Justification prior to Augustine

Posted on March 31st, 2014

This is a very serious problem – and does much to explain how modern apologists (whether Lutheran, Reformed, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox) are able to get away with deceptive statements about their position being the sole teaching of antiquity: The teaching of justification prior to Augustine seems to be largely ignored by doctrinal historians. D.H. Williams, quoted in The Righteousness of One: An Evaluation of Early Patristic Soteriology in Light of the New Perspective on Paul (by Jordan Cooper; Kindle Locations 696-697)

Christ: Everything or Nothing

Posted on March 27th, 2014

If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin. For no matter how small the gap which must be bridged before salvation can be attained, the awakened conscience sees clearly that our wretched attempt at goodness is insufficient even to bridge that gap. The guilty soul enters again into the hopeless reckoning with God, to determine whether we have really done our part. And thus we groan again under the old bondage of the law. Such an attempt to piece out the work of Christ by our own merit, Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing, and the only hope…

Torn from my heart

Posted on September 10th, 2013

Words of great comfort from Dr. Luther: If you believe that it is really true that Christ has suffered for you and saved you, then you can say “If Christ has my sin, that means it is no longer mine simply because Christ has it.” He has torn the sin from my heart and from my conscience where I had a register of sins in which the following was written: “You have been an adulterer, a murderer and a thief.” However, as I have the Word: “Christ has taken my sin upon Himself”, you will therefore not find my sins in any register or book neither in heaven nor on earth. They have all been written onto the Son of God; that is the…

An Orthodox Alice in Wonderland

Posted on August 21st, 2013

Patrick Henry Reardon’s Christ in the Psalms is a very helpful companion to the Psalter. Yet one must be extremely careful, for Reardon, like so many converts to Eastern Orthodoxy, has overreacted against the Scriptural emphasis on forensic language for justification. The following paragraph (on Psalm 75 (LXX)/76 (Heb)) is an excellent example of such an overreaction, beguiling in its appeal to an “older and more traditional” Christianity: Whereas later theology, particularly in the West, has been disposed to think of the Christian redemption chiefly in legal terms, favoring a rather literal interpretation of the commercial metaphors used in the Bible with respect to it (cost, purchase, price, debt, etc.), the older and more traditional texts of the Church, especially the liturgical texts, have tended to…

Faith justifies

Posted on March 19th, 2012

Faith justifies not because it is such a good work or because it is so beautiful a virtue. It justifies because it lays hold of and accepts Christ’s merit in the promise of the Holy Gospel. -FC SD III, 13