Posts tagged “Law

Sermo Dei: Holy Trinity 2015

Posted on May 31st, 2015

The stillness of a pleasant evening was interrupted by the repeated crackle of electric death. Last Monday night Kassie and I were giving the new pastor and his fiancée a tour of the church and school, and as we walked the grounds I was surprised that one of our neighbors would have a bug zapper. It’s an ingenious device. Other traps lure prey in with an offer—meat on a bear trap, cheese or peanut butter on a mouse trap; once the offer is taken, the mechanism is tripped and death ensues. But with a bug zapper, the prize itself is what kills. The alluring light becomes the means of execution. Long ago, the devil speculated that human beings could be destroyed the same way.…

Sermo Dei: Holy Thursday 2014

Posted on April 17th, 2014

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread and gave it to His disciples. And the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ immediately started an argument among themselves.   St. Luke tells us, “Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” (Luke 22:24 NKJV) After this, they slept instead of praying. Then, they fought, Peter cutting off a man’s ear. Then they ran.   But first, they argued. About who was greatest.   John tells us that Satan entered the heart of Judas. But Judas was not the only one inspired by Satan that night. For Satan’s work is not only in things provocatively, spectacularly evil. Satan’s work is…

How do Lutherans use the Law?

Posted on December 10th, 2013

Several posts at Gottesdienst Online (“Are you an Antinomian?” and “Luther in the Antinomian Disputations”) have highlighted the problem among Lutherans in understanding and applying the Law. Jason Braaten notes, This is how we are to preach the law according to Luther: ” . . . so as to admonish to good. . . . by way of exhortation . . . .” The law is not just for the lawless, to terrify. It is to be preached to the pious so as to admonish to good. I agree with Jordan Cooper’s observation in “Characteristics of Lutheran Antinomianism” that there is an antinomian problem in American Lutheranism. I too have heard the kind of statements he has highlighted: The believer is not the new man-Christ…

Sermo Dei: Advent 1 Midweek

Posted on December 5th, 2013

Beloved, tonight we hear the glorious prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 2:1-5) regarding our future and our world’s future. Isaiah speaks about the “end of days.” Our Bible renders it “in the latter days”; understand that this is the last event in this corrupt and broken world, as God’s new creation breaks in on the earth we have ruined. In that day, “The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills.” We could imagine a grand construction project where a new temple is fashioned and people travel to see it, as many travel to see great churches in Rome or Paris or Berlin or London. “The word that Isaiah the son of…

Intervention with the addict

Posted on September 18th, 2012

In his On Being a Theologian of the Cross, Gerhard Forde has an insightful observation on how the Law works on us sin-addicts: There are no loopholes [with the Law]. It kills, curses, accuses, judges, and condemns. It is the first and cutting edge of the intervention from without into the closed cell of the addict.

Terrifying preaching

Posted on November 23rd, 2011

The “lawful use” of the law, as Augustine puts it in terms borrowed from 1 Timothy 1:8-9, is a form of preaching whose effect is “to terrify the unrighteous … so that they flee by faith to justifying grace.” -Phillip Cary, “From Augustine’s Grace to Luther’s Gospel,” Logia XX.4

The first law was given to keep man from self-conceited arrogance

Posted on January 20th, 2011

I’m rereading once again Irenaeus’ On the Apostolic Preaching, a wonderful gem. This passage particularly struck me, where Irenaeus indicates that God forbade man from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in order to keep man mindful that he had a LORD: But, in order that the man should not entertain thoughts of grandeur nor be exalted, as if he had no Lord, and because of the authority given to him and the boldness towards God his Creator, sin, passing beyond his own measure, and adopt an attitude of self-conceited arrogance against God, a law was given to him from God, that he might know that he had as lord the Lord of all. And He placed certain limits…