Justification is always the issue… Preaching

I know we have kind of beaten the horse a bit with this issue, but I don’t ever get bored with this.  Justification is always the issue.  So in this article, I would like to talk about how Objective Justification is expressed simply in the proclamation of the Gospel.

What we know about the Bible is that it all centers around Christ, who He is, and what He did.  So practically, all teachings of Scripture tumble down if the Bible’s message about Christ’s reconciliation of the world to God and His justification for all people is not true.

For one, how can a pastor forgive sins in Christ’s stead and pronounce with certainty the grace of God upon a sinner if he cannot see the sinner’s faith?  If the pastor says to a sinner who inwardly does not have faith “I forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” does the pastor as a result lie or say something untrue?  Of course not!  If that were the case, then God would be a liar.  Sure, the sinner does not personally receive by faith the forgiveness and will be ripe for destruction if he continues in his unbelief, but that does not make God a liar.  Rather, it makes the unbeliever the liar. (Rom 3:3ff)  If the pastor says to someone, “This promise is for you,” but he doesn’t believe, will the pastor then say, “Well, I guess it wasn’t for you!”?  Of course not!  This article of faith is not merely theological handy work; it is not merely unneeded elaboration.  It is the very heart of the Gospel that Jesus mandated to be preached to all nations.

 

 

Here is what the Old Norwegian Lutheran Synod president Herman Amberg Preus (1874) had to say on this topic when a seminary professor was denying this teaching of Objective Justification:

 

 

According to his new gospel the professor must preach that through his suffering and death Christ has only accomplished so much that God has now become willing to let his wrath cease and to be reconciled and to loose, confer grace, forgive, justify and open access to salvation, but that in actuality he can only do and does all this if man on his part fulfills the condition placed on him by God, namely that he is supposed to believe. And the thing which is thus supposed to be believed does not become this that God already has done this and is reconciled but that God will do it and will be reconciled when he sees the obedience and the good quality in man, that he believes.

This whole issue comes down to the preaching of the Gospel, that is, the preaching of the vicarious atonement for us, the objective redemption for us.  This objective reality is proclaimed to us personally.  Objective justification fills the Word with the assuring proclamation: “This redemption, this reconciliation, this justification, this forgiveness is for you; Christ is your righteousness.”

At the end  of his Pentecost sermon from Acts 2, Peter says, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)  Then Peter proclaims to them that this promise is “for you and your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” (Acts 2:39)  Notice how Peter first calls them to repentance; he then immediately presents them with the gift of baptism and the Holy Spirit; then he says who this promise is for.  The promise is for everyone, but Peter does not start with that.  Rather, he first says, “This promise is for you and your children.”  This is the implication of Objective Justification, namely a personal proclamation: “for you.”  Preaching Objective Justification is not merely preaching the fact that Jesus died for the sins of all and rose again for the justification of all, then letting the people connect the dots.  It is more direct than that.

 

God justified me.  He justified me by faith on account of the justification already won for me by Christ (this is what propter Christum per fidem means), offered to me, given to me, and, inseparable from His Word, delivered to me personally by the Gospel for faith and through faith. (Rom 1:16-17)  Adolf Koeberle makes this point that Paul saw no separation of God’s act of redemption and his mission to proclaim it.  This is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 :

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’

Paul received it to deliver it and proclaim it “for you.”  Again, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5 that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and has given to us the Word of reconciliation.”  God’s act of reconciling the world to Himself in Christ and His giving of the Word are perfectly united.  Paul continues by uniting the office of the ministry to this Word of reconciliation.  The office of the ministry cannot possibly be separated from the universal reconciliation that God accomplished for us in Christ.  The primary task of the office of the ministry is to personally proclaim to people Objective Justification.  And how is this done?  It is done by preaching Christ for us.

Objective Justification teaches not only who justifies but whom He justifies.  For the sake of Christ’s obedient suffering and death, God justifies the ungodly (Rom 4:5).  Objective Justification teaches to whom God gives this promise.  As His Word proclaims, it is for all.  Those who have faith receive it and are saved.  Those who do not believe are condemned, and the wrath of God remains on them.

Justification is always the issue in preaching, because that is what Christ has commanded His pastors to preach.  When the pastor preaches that “Christ died for your sins, and He rose again for your justification,” he is preaching Objective Justification; he is preaching the Gospel.  May we always remember the power of God’s Word, and from where this message gets its efficacy, namely the Vicarious Atonement.  May we always take comfort in the certainty of the promise.  We can have certainty in it; the Resurrection proves it!

 

About Pastor Andrew Preus

Pastor Andrew Preus is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran/St. Paul Lutheran, Guttenberg/McGregor, IA. He is the eighth of eleven sons, with one sister. He received his seminary training at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, ON (MDiv) from 2009 to 2013, and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN (STM) from 2013 to 2014. His main theological interests include Justification and Church and Ministry. He is married to Leah Preus (nee Fehr), and they have four children: Jacob, Solveig, Kristiana, and Robert.


Comments

Justification is always the issue… Preaching — 179 Comments

  1. @Joe Krohn #97

    Mr. Krohn,

    I apologize for the double posting, but I don’t want to edit my earlier posting just in case the timer runs out and I then have to type this out again.

    In retrospect I can see where some are going to be confused by the theological terminology used in discussion of Justification. The use of specialized terms always carry with it the danger of misunderstanding. That was even true during the formulation of the first three creeds of Christianity and in particular with the Athanasian creed which is in response to Arianism and other Christological errors. Fierce debate broke out around the Athanasian creed over technical terms designed to tell us if the Father and Son were of the same substance, or were of different substances, or if they were of similar substance, or if Christ was merely a man. The debate raged on for years and settled on the theological terms “homoousios” and “hypostaseis” used in the Athanasian creed with regard to the substance of the Son and the three persons of the Holy Trinity. I can imagine the confusion surrounding the use of these technical terms, but that didn’t stop their use. Likewise, the use of the word “Trinity” continues to cause confusion, but we don’t reject the use of this term which is found nowhere in the Bible, since the term correctly expresses the Scriptural teaching of One God in Three Persons.

    Another point coming to mind, in retrospect, is that those who continue to oppose OJ are also separating Objective Justification from Subjective Justification and treating the two as if they are two separate justifications. I can see how this mistake can occur, because we take the terms and right away think of two wholly distinct things. But, the truth of the matter is that we are talking about two aspects of Justification (singular). Just as we wouldn’t mistakenly think that because we are talking about the various facets of a diamond, therefore there are as many diamonds as facets being talked about, we don’t want to mistakenly think that there are as many “justifications” as there are characteristics of it under discussion. The term “objective justification” refers to that aspect of Christ’s satisfaction of the Law (through His death and resurrection) for the whole human race, which belongs to the article of justification. I don’t think we should really talk about OJ without talking about why we need a God-Man to make satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. The forensic nature of justification just won’t make sense if we isolate it from discussion of why the whole world is condemned by the Law. If we think of what Christ did on the cross as making full satisfaction for the sins of the world, then it is easier to understand that the response of the Father to Christ’s resurrection is to break the old covenant in half and not hold it against the world any longer, since the Son has satisfied its requirements on behalf of the whole world. It is for that reason that a real gift can be extended to individuals through the means of Grace. This real gift is the actual forgiveness of sins won by Christ for the whole world. It is what Christ has accomplished that justifies us. That is the essence of OJ.

    Today, I thought about something similar with regard to Abraham. We know the Scriptures that Abraham believed the promise of God and that because of faith, Abraham was justified. But, what is it that Abraham believed? Well, it wasn’t merely a contingency that Abraham believed. No, it was in God who is faithful, and His Word is true, that Abraham believed. When God told Abraham that He would give him a son and make a great nation out of him, that was a reality. God’s promise to Abraham was a necessary truth, it couldn’t fail. The efficacy of God’s Word to Abraham was just as real as if the nation promised was there already! It’s mind boggling. I don’t understand it, but that has to be the case because we have Jesus Christ to prove it. After all, making a great nation out of Abraham was all about bringing us Jesus. And for what? To win victory over sin and death brought to the whole world by the first Adam in the garden of Eden! Even before there were individuals such as Isaac, Jacob, and David, there was a great nation in Abraham, because God said so.

    Finally, just as God’s promise to make a great nation out of Abraham was a reality, it wasn’t a contingency that could have failed; so, the satisfaction for the sins of the whole world by Christ on the cross is also a reality; it isn’t a contingency that can fail. Every sin of the human race was punished in Christ and paid for by Christ. The response of the Father is to be reconciled with the world for the sake of Christ. It is that reality of the forgiveness of sins won by Christ for the whole world that makes the promise of the Gospel actual. That promise is extended to all of humanity through the means of Grace. Sadly, that reality is not received by all and because of that, those who reject this real gift will be condemned by their own unbelief for an eternity.

    I have more thoughts in review of this thread, but I will leave off here since this is too long as it is and I may not get to correcting all the spelling errors and the like because of the length of this post. 🙂

  2. @ Andrew Preus, #87.
    Good point.

    However, grammar. To wit:
    Raise, raised, raised. vb. transitive.
    Rise, rose, risen. vb. intransitive.
    Jesus rose from the dead. God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus is (has) risen! He is risen indeed, because God the Father raised him. He has raised him. Jesus has been raised from the dead.

    Alleluia.

    You’ve still got time before graduation to get this fundamental bit of Biblical grammar mastered. 😉

  3. Andrew, I just came across this quote from an essay your father wrote. Very good!:

    This gracious decree is no mere theological construction that we ponder in our hearts. It is a public preaching of the Holy Spirit. God Himself speaks words that enter into our ears and we receive the promises these words provide. We sin. We confess. God absolves. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) So life goes. Justification is not a process in the sense that it is incomplete and reaching toward perfection. But it is a continual thing. One doesn’t get justified and then that’s the end of it. God justifies us every time He speaks His justifying words to us. Faith lives on this word of justification. We are called to express this faith in love. The love is defined by the Ten Commandments. It is expressed in the specific vocations in which God has placed us. It is corrupted in its very active tasks from within and without. And so this imperfect and sin-tainted love must constantly be rendered holy by means of the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness to us.

    There is no greater responsibility in this world than to proclaim the gospel and administer the sacraments of Christ through which God justifies sinners and makes them saints. Apart from the proclamation of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments no righteousness is bestowed, no faith is born, no love is elicited, and no holy vocation is realized in the lives of anyone at all. There can be no doubt that preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments is the most important task God has given us to do.

    “Called by the Gospel: Justification and Vocation”
    Eighth Annual Vocation Symposium
    Trinity Lutheran Church
    Norman, Oklahoma
    April 14, 2007
    Pastor Rolf Preus,

  4. @Rev. James Schulz #105
    That is very good. And all the while, it is only one justification, just as there is only one Gospel, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, on God and Father of all.

    I find a simple way of expressing the difference between Roman Catholics (and others who teach a progressive justification) and Lutherans is that Rome teaches that by grace we are on the path toward righteousness; Lutherans teach we are on the path of (“that is”; epexegetical) righteousness.

    It is kind of like their interpretation of John 16:13. They see it as the Holy Spirit guiding the Church into all truth (that’s how the ESV translates it). But the participle is not eis or pros. Rather, it is en. Luther translated it “wird er euch in alle Wahrheit leiten.”

    We have the truth that sanctifies us, and we are lead in or with that truth. We don’t progress toward it. This means that not only do we not progressively come to righteousness, but we also don’t progressively determine our doctrine by what our practice is. Rather, it is the opposite. Doctrine determines practice.

    The Lutheran conviction that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us completely freely by God’s grace through faith on account of Christ goes right along with our conviction that the Word of God determines what we believe, teach, confess, and practice.

    God’s Word is our great heritage,
    And shall be ours forever.
    To spread it light from age to age
    Shall be our chief endeavor.
    In life it guides our way.
    In death it is our stay.
    Lord, grant while worlds endure
    We keep Its teachings pure
    Throughout all generations.

  5. I thought you might find this interesting. The selection below is from chapter XXVIII of Nicholaus Hunnius’ Epitome Credendorum (1625). Hunnius was an orthodox Lutheran theologian who held various positions throughout his career in early 1600s Saxony. The Epitome Credendorum was “long recognized as a highly significant work” and was “a perennially popular lay dogmatics that went through some twenty editions by 1870. When it was translated into English in 1847, it was possibly the first complete dogmatics work of 17th century orthodoxy to be translated into English.” (Stewards of the Mysteries of God, pp.16-17, Heiser) Notable is that what Hunnius says below is only 45 years after the Book of Concord was compiled.

    Chapter XXVIII deals with the Office of the Holy Ministry, and this selection talks of the pastor’s ministry of “forgiving of sins.” I hope this sheds more light than heat on how pastors are to proclaim forgiveness of sins:

    With reference to the forgiving of sins, we have more especially to consider:

    a) that a penitent sinner has his sins forgiven him as soon as he returns unto God, being freed from the effects they would have otherwise had upon him. As, for instance, in the case of the (penitent) Publican, Lk. 18:13, who , as soon as he repented in his heart and had taken refuge in the grace of God, had his sins forgiven him without any delay, at the same moment. Acts 13:39: “By him (Christ) all that believe are justified (from sins);” Rom. 4:5: “He that believed on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

    b)Forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all sinners by the preaching of the Gospel. For the apostleship has been instituted to be a “ministry of reconciliation,” 2 Cor. 5:18. The apostles were commanded to preach repentance and remission of sins, Lk. 24:47.

    c) There are also in the Church properly instituted authorities, who are entitled to declare unto man (after he has repented of his sins) the forgiveness of his sins in the same way as, in the case of an individual having been found innocent before a court of justice, he is liberated from his prison by the power which these judges are possessed of. Thus the Publican was justified before God, at the moment that he directed his humble prayer unto God, although he had, as is proved by his hastening to the temple, previously repented and found forgiveness of sins. Christ also absolved the woman who had been a sinner, and repenting of her sins, had taken refuge in him, the real mercyseat, although she had previously already repented of her sins, and found grace before God.

    But we ought to be careful not to pronounce forgiveness of sins to those who are unworthy. As such are to be considered:

    a) Those who have not yet come to a knowledge of their sins. Thus the Prophet Nathan did not promise unto David forgiveness of sins, until the latter had declared with a repenting heart: “I have sinned against the Lord,” 2 Sam. 12:13.

    b) those, who do not abstain from the sins they commit against their better knowledge. For we are told that he only is to find mercy “whoso confesseth and forsaketh” his sins Prov. 28:13; and

    c) those who, although they wish to abstain from their sins, yet have not strength to believe that God is willing to forgiven them their sins for the sake and merits of Christ; “Woe to the fearful hearts, and faint hands; woe unto him that is faint hearted! for he believeth not; therefore shall he not be offended,” Eccl. (Sirach) 2:1-15.

  6. @Jim Pierce #91
    Mr. Pierce, Am I correct in saying that you equate the atonement with forgiveness? That through the atonement the sins of all men have been forgiven?

  7. @Joe Krohn #108

    Mr. Krohn,

    The atonement and reconciliation are the same thing. The term “atonement” refers to the removal of the separation existing between God and humanity because of sin, and this because Christ made full satisfaction for ALL our sins on the cross.

    In Christ the sins of the whole world have been punished and for His sake alone forgiven. God is fully appeased by the sacrifice of His Son. But, Christ is not apprehended as our propitiator, our justifier, except through the gift of faith given to us through hearing the Gospel.

    We are to be brought to repentance by hearing the Word of God and the Holy Spirit through that same Word creates faith in us to receive the good news that our sins are really forgiven. Indeed, the good news is that the forgiveness of sins is not conditioned by anything we do—nor is it about any change or quality in us—, but forgiveness is won by Christ’s victory over sin and death at the cross and His resurrection. We are forgiven upon Christ’s merit alone.

    So, yes, ” through the atonement the sins of all men have been forgiven.” This same forgiveness can only be received through faith alone in Christ.

  8. @Jim Pierce #109
    Mr. Pierce, Thank you for your well thought out response.

    But there is still the problem of the unbeliever ‘dying in his sins’ as Jesus points out. I don’t question that the debt of sin has been paid for; atoned for; that forgiveness has been procured. (Even before Calvary since a promise was made in the Garden of Eden…it was good as done) But to say that every sin is already forgiven (which can be misconstrued as a subjective forgiveness) flies in the face of what Jesus spoke concerning unbelief; the unforgivable sin.

    Now, we know that our God is a forgiving God. Otherwise He would not have sent His Son. God knew all this in eternity. He had a heart to forgive even before creation. In a sense, He had already forgiven since He was/is cheerfully willing to do so on the account of His Son; as we are all to be. But true forgiveness only comes through a true confession (worked by the Holy Ghost through the Word).

  9. @Joe Krohn #110

    Mr. Krohn,

    Your point about sins being “procured,” and “paid for” continue to be confused, since you keep arguing that the sins of the world have been acquired by Christ, but yet not really. What else does “procured,” “paid for,” or “acquired” mean if these words do not mean that the sin separating human kind from God has been absolved in Christ? What does it mean that sin and death have been conquered by Christ for the whole world, if that doesn’t mean the sins of the whole world have been forgiven, in Christ? What does “forgiveness” mean if it doesn’t mean to renounce previous anger against, or to absolve from payment of a debt not holding it against them?

    You are stuck, Mr. Krohn. The reason why you are stuck is because “paid for sins” in your view doesn’t mean that somebody else was punished for your sins and the debt was forgiven, but rather the debt is not actually paid for (forgiven), until you offer “a true confession.” In your view reconciliation isn’t an actuality, but a possibility only made actual if a certain condition is met. The gift of the Gospel, in your view, is an empty box which is only filled with an actual gift of forgiveness once that condition is met. Isn’t this right? If not please correct me.

    I am really interested in your answer to my earlier question, but I know you will not answer it. Perhaps I will restate the question? Why not? Can you please tell me what you think it means that the world is now reconciled to God in Christ? What is “reconciliation,” Mr. Krohn?

    Btw, there is no “problem” of the unbeliever dying in his sins. That is one of the anti-OJer’s fabrications about OJ. You are stating a non-issue, since OJ is a facet of Justification. The reality of the forgiveness of sins for the whole world in Christ make that gift REAL. It is something that faith can apprehend! Those who reject Christ will surely die in their sins and sadly be condemned. OJ doesn’t reject this anywhere. The trouble is, Mr. Krohn, you are doing what Calvinists are prone to do, you are trying to reconcile a paradox with reason (If all sins are forgiven in Christ, and unbelief is a sin, then unbelief is forgiven. Therefore unbelievers are forgiven and going to heaven! Such an argument is sheer nonsense, since it ignores the truth of the Scriptures and what is stated by those who teach OJ). The Scriptures are clear that the whole world is forgiven in Christ, but at the same time the Scriptures are clear that the individual receives the justification won by Christ through faith alone.

    You don’t have the Scriptural teaching of Justification with out what the terms OJ and SJ refer to. Drop one or the other teachings they represent and you will fall into false teaching.

  10. 1932 Brief Statement: “Scripture teaches that God has already declared
    the whole world to be righteous in Christ…”

    To be righteous means to have Christ imputed to you no matter how one may want to dance around that truth and say it is just objective and that’s a declaration that’s not really a declaration. What does unbelief have in common with belief? What does sin have in common with righteousness? What does darkness have in common with light? Christ never declared anyone righteous during his ministry without explicitly referring to their faith. The Apostles carried out the same philosophy of ministry.

    Luke 17:3-4: “…If your brother sins, rebuke him, and IF he repents, forgive him, and IF HE sins against you seven times in the day, and TURNS TO YOU seven times, SAYING, ‘I REPENT,’ you must forgive him.”

    It seems forgiveness, a declaration of “not guilty”, a righteous status, sainthood, a promise of salvation after death, etc. are only given to the penitent, not the impenitent. So to say, as above, that the entire world is declared righteous because of Christ, is to say that the impenitent are forgiven as well as the penitent. This is in direct conflict with Jesus’ own Words.

  11. Levi,

    I will let Mr. Pierce or Preus correct me if I am wrong since they know more about this than I do.

    Your point is exactly why the language of objective and subjective justification was coined. Just like with the doctrine of the Trinity, we coin a word/phrase to express and summarize as accurately as possible the teanching of Scripture even if it does not stand the test of our puny, limited human reason. Three cannot be one no matter how hard we try to understand it yet we still confess willingly and joyfully that God is three in one. Likewise, a simultaneously objective and subjective justification are a little hard for our minds to wrap around.

    It is easy for us to confuse the doctrine of justification (to Mr. Krohn in #110 I say “then just stop misconstruing it just as you and all the rest of us true beleivers have stopped misconstruing that God is three seperate beings”) because the Scriptures present the connundrum that you lay out. So, to maintian the truth of the Scriptures and to make clear what they are saying about justification our theologians have adopted the terms objective justification (all the sins of the world are paid for) and subjective justification (but an individual is not justified until he receives that objective justification by faith). It is a conundrum: according to Scripture the world is justified but individuals are not justified (until the Holy Spirit works faith in them). The doctrine of objective and subjective justification accurately teaches this conundrum that Scripture gives us and gives us words from our own language to understand it as best as possible. To put it another way, just as with the term “Trinity,” the phrases “objective justification” and “subjective justification” give us words from our human language to express and uphold what looks to us to be a contradiction.

    Jim and Andrew, please correct me or better nuance what I have written it is wrong or misleading.

    P.S. If I am going to keep delving into these doctrinal debates I am going to have to think about taking “Happy Bob” out of my avatar. 🙂

  12. @Pastor Tim Rossow #114

    @Levi Schmidt #112

    Pr. Rossow,

    Thank you for your posting. I think it is “money.” 🙂

    Levi,

    I would add to Pr. Rossow’s fine words the point that OJ is not “dancing around the truth.” What the Brief Statement says is correct. Keep in mind the righteousness being declared is “IN CHRIST.” I don’t know why the anti-OJers insist upon ignoring those words. IN CHRIST the world is declared righteous and this because He has made full satisfaction for the sins of the whole world! IN CHRIST the world is DECLARED righteous, as opposed to the declaration that the world is doomed under the Law. IN CHRIST there is no more sin and death, He conquered both through His death and resurrection. How is this righteousness of Christ imputed to particular people in the world? Through the means of grace.

    What the Brief Statement doesn’t say is that Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to every particular person in the whole world. Indeed, if we continue on reading the Brief Statement it goes onto say about Justification,

    “Scripture teaches that God has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ, Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:18?21; Rom. 4:25; that therefore not for the sake of their good works, but without the works of the Law, by grace, for Christ’s sake, He justifies, that is, accounts as righteous, all those who believe, accept, and rely on, the fact that for Christ’s sake their sins are forgiven. Thus the Holy Ghost testifies through St. Paul: “There is no difference; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Rom. 3:23, 24. And again: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law,” Rom. 3:28.” “

  13. Joe K,

    I should have resisted the temptation to get involved with you morons.

    Please reconsider your assertion that my analogy between the doctrine of the Trinity and OJSJ is faulty.

    By definition an analogy is a comparison of two things that have something in common. The two doctrines that I analogize have this in common: they are both doctrines that do not make sense to our human reason but are both given apt expression with our limited language, even though the language we apply does not eliminate the mystery or apparent (to our limited minds) contradiction.

    You should probably just excuse yourself from this conversation because you do not understand the science of dogmatic theology. Dogmatics is the science of taking Scriptural truths that are given to us in various contexts and with varying language in the diverse forms of Scripture (history, poetry, epistles, etc.) and systematizing them in a reasonable and logical way (thus we call it theology or “logic/reason about God”), even if there is yet mystery and even contradiction.

    You are attempting to resolve an apparent contradiction in Scripture. That is always a bad thing to do. Mr. Pierce and others have clearly shown that both OJ and SJ are taught in Scripture. They are simply doing dogmatic theology as it is meant to be, i.e. submit to Scripture, systematize it in as much as human reason is capable and where human reason fails, confess Scripture as it is.

    In many places the Scriptures just do not make sense. I am still trying to figure out how Jonah survived three days in the belly of a great sea creature. For that matter, I am still trying to figure out how Jesus is true man and true God but I joyfully and willingly confess each of these Scriptural truths.

    BTW – I use the phrase “apparent contradiction” for your sake because you are weak. For the rest of us, OJSJ is really so contradictory.

  14. @Pastor Tim Rossow #117
    Pr. Rossow, Thank you for your charity. I’d hate to be on your bad side.

    @Jim Pierce #111
    Isn’t the rejection of Christ a sin? The problem I am seeing is you are reasoning that since Christ atoned for the sin of the world; paid the debt, that they must now be forgiven; In Christ every single sin is forgiven. Who is stuck? This is the problem, because now you have crossed over from the objective to the subjective when you say ‘every single sin’. This is not objective. Again…Is not the rejection of Christ the sin that damns one in eternity?

    Unbelief and the rejection of Christ are two different things. If I was once an unbeliever and was brought to faith, I would be forgiven of my unbelief. To reject Christ in the final analysis while clinging to unbelief unto death is a sin; the damning sin that takes me to an eternal death with the rest of my sins.

    Our focus is always on Christ as our scapegoat. It is that faith which justifies. This is true for all Christians OT and NT alike.

    I will exit for good.

  15. @Pastor Tim Rossow #114
    Pastor Rossow, I agree: “Money” 😉

    Another example is visible and invisible Church. These terms are not in the Confessions, but Luther used them on occasion, and Selnecker elaborated on them much more. These two concepts are both true. The Church is visible and invisible, but there is still one Church.

    So Justification is Objective and it is received subjectively.

    I think the main problem with anti-OJers is that while they hold on to the efficacy of God’s Word, they downplay the efficacy of the Act in History. But the Word gets its efficacy from the Act in History. Jesus effectively took away the sins of the world. Therefore the means of grace effectively take away the sins of the individual, creating that receptive faith in the individual.

    Dr. Gregory Jackson accuses us of being enthusiasts, because we say that the Act in History effectively took away the sins of the world, thus, according to him, turning the Word into a mere reminder. But if we take the efficacy away from the atonement, the Word looses its efficacy. And if we claim that the Word doesn’t lose its efficacy, then we say that the Word gives more than Jesus gave in His death and resurrection. I think Jackson et al would agree that faith includes not only knowledge, but assent and trust. So how does faith get these characteristics. Faith comes by by what is heard, and what is heard is the Word of God. So then, what does the Word of God say?

    First we will see how we get knowledge, assent, and trust if Jesus did effectively take away the sins of the world.

    1) Knowledge: Faith is aware of the information, because the Word communicates it.
    2) Assent: The individual believes the forgiveness to be pertaining to himself personally, because the Word tells him that this forgiveness applies to him.
    3) Trust: The believer, knowing that only he who is preserved in faith will be saved, confidently believes in God and clings to the promise, and because the Word carries with it faith and thus strengthens faith by revealing its one object, Christ, the believer knows that his faith rests on continually receiving the means of Grace.

    Now, let’s see what happens if the Atonement did not effectively take all sins away.
    1) Knowledge: The individual is aware that Jesus made it possible for him to be forgiven if he believes.
    2) Assent: The individual applies this to himself because he believes that if he believes he will be forgiven, since that is what the Word tells him.
    3) Trust: The believer clings to the efficacy of God’s promise, namely that if you believe that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, and the believer knows that the means of grace will effectively strengthen his faith with the message that if you keep believing you will be saved.

    If I have misrepresented them, it is only because they separate the two parts of God’s Word, namely its communication and its efficacy. The efficacy of God’s Word does not exist without that which it communicates. Obviously the Word communicates that we are justified by faith alone, and that he who believes and is baptized will be save, also its threats that he who does not believe dies in his sin, and these are all true. In fact the saying of Jesus “He who believes and is baptized will be save” is also a promise, and it is regarded as Gospel. But if Jesus did not effectively take away the sins of the world, then the Word does not have that to communicate, and thus the words, “your sins are forgiven,” cannot be efficacious to someone until he believes, because they do not apply to him if he does not believe.

    AC IV say that men are justified through faith, “when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake” In other words, a man is justified when he believes God’s promise. God’s promise = your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake.

  16. @Joe Krohn #118

    Of course you will “exit for good” because you still refuse to answer my question. I have asked you to tell me what “reconciliation” means and you don’t. I suspect you don’t want to offer a definition, because you would find that it means the sins of the whole world are forgiven in Christ.

    You write, “Isn’t the rejection of Christ a sin? The problem I am seeing is you are reasoning that since Christ atoned for the sin of the world; paid the debt, that they must now be forgiven; In Christ every single sin is forgiven. Who is stuck? This is the problem, because now you have crossed over from the objective to the subjective when you say ‘every single sin’. This is not objective. Again…Is not the rejection of Christ the sin that damns one in eternity?”

    Yes, the rejection of Christ is a sin. I have clearly stated as much numerous times over, but you keep ignoring those words and continue arguing along your script, rather than dealing with what is actually being stated.

    Blatantly ignoring and misrepresenting what has been stated is a problem for you, and the other members of the Jackson sect. Furthermore, you have shown you don’t understand what “objective” and “subjective” actually mean in the context of Justification. Every single sin—ALL of them—of the whole world have been forgiven in Christ. That is “objective,” Mr. Krohn. You would understand this is if you believed that Christ’s death makes full satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world. For you, the forgiveness of sins is wholly conditional. Sadly, in your view the gift box of the Gospel is empty until something about the person changes and then it is filled with the gift of forgiveness. That is not the Gospel, Mr. Krohn.

  17. @Andrew Preus #119
    Your points are flawed since you are leaving out a very important point. Your grandfather stated the following in “Justification and Rome” that I paraphrased on my blog:

    “It is interesting to note that Preus called out Hollaz (also spelled Hollatz) as the last of of the great Lutheran dogmaticians while also labeling him a pietist since he was influenced by the prevalence of it during this era. (17th and 18th centuries)

    The reformers (namely Chemnitz) defined the work of the Holy Ghost bringing someone to faith in four movements or steps. The first being knowledge; a thinking or meditation on the promises of God concerning salvation. Secondly assent; whereas the person (by the work of the Spirit) concludes with persuasion that the universal promises of the Gospel are meant for him and that he is included in it. (Rom. 4:23-24) Third; that the sinner realizes his sin; that the movement of his heart and will wants and seeks forgiveness and the blessings that justification provides henceforth in the Gospel. And lastly; Trust. The confidence in the Grace of God offered in the Gospel.

    The later Lutheran teachers with Hollaz at the forefront reduced the four movements to three excluding the third step; repentance and the remission of sins. Why would they do this?”

  18. John 1:29 ESV “29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

    This does not appear to be past tense; nor does it appear to be a future past tense.

  19. @Andrew Preus #123

    @Joe Krohn #125

    And there is the denial. The sins of the world weren’t taken away, according to Mr. Krohn.

    “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:13-15 ESV)

    At the cross, Mr. Krohn! At the cross our sins are forgiven in Christ. The debt of sin is canceled being nailed to the cross, Mr. Krohn. The sins of the world are taken away by the Lamb of God at the cross.

    Luther wrote, “to preach the Gospel, which announces to all the world that in Christ the sins of the whole world are swallowed up, that he died to take our sins away from us and that he rose to devour them and wipe them out, so that all who believe this have such hope and assurance” (source).

  20. @Jim Pierce #127

    Do Sig Becker’s comments from his Sweden lectures help or hurt the doctrine of Justification? (“Google Translate” of http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=sv&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fhome.swipnet.se%2Fbibeln%2FSWBecker.htm):

    This doctrine of the universal justification is the foundation of the Lutheran doctrine of the means of grace. We must proclaim the forgiveness of all people. After talking about this universal forgiveness, Paul tells us further that God has trusted us with the word of reconciliation. “Atonement word” is the word that speaks of this reconciliation. We must proclaim this good news to the world when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, He said to them: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.” It is important, to note here the tense of the second verb in the original Greek. The perfect tense in the Greek New Testament, although we based our translations would expect the present tense. Perfect tense in the Greek indicates an action that has been completed in the past, but which in its completed state will continue at the present time. Therefore, is often translated Greek perfect tense really only the present tense of the verb ‘be’ and a past participle. The idea is this: “They have been forgiven in full in the past and they are still forgiven now.”

    This means that when we proclaim the gospel message we bring is not forgiveness through our preaching. Forgiveness is there long before we preached and preached it. It also means that the calling and priest ordination in no way make more certain absolution or more valid. Every Christian, whether he be priest or layman can go to any human being on earth and tell her that her sins are forgiven.

    To avoid any confusion, it might be said that along with that message has also preached the law to bring people to a knowledge of their sins and their need for a Savior. But when people have learned to be worried over his sin, we unreservedly and unconditionally to tell them that all their sins are forgiven. Luther says somewhere, that if we are concerned about our sin, we go to our pastor or “to the first Christian man we meet,” and let them tell us that our sins are forgiven.

    This is also indicated by the difference between the Lutheran and the Reformed attitude towards the okyrkliga. In America it is very common, the Reformed missionaries say to a person, as they try to win, “Are you saved?” With this issue they say is often, if you have had a conversion experience, through which one has arrived at the conviction that man is one of the few people for whom Jesus died, and that the Holy Spirit would bring to faith through his unequaled grace.

    However, it is unlikely that a Lutheran missionary would ask: “Are you saved?” because the conversion experience is not so important from his theological position. Because he believes in the universality of redemption and the universal justification is much more likely that he changes the words order and says, “You are saved,” “Your sins are forgiven.” He can say that to anyone, because he knows that that is true about each one.

  21. @Rev. James Schulz #128

    Pr. Schulz,

    I fail to see where you are going with your quote. Perhaps you can tell me what you think about what he said? Is the Luther citation he provided (which I quote above) taken out of context? Does it not mean what it says?

  22. @Jim Pierce #126
    You are out of context, Mr. Pierce. Go back to verse 6 in the citation you provided in Colossians. Paul is in the context of faith. Of course all their trespasses are forgiven. They are in Christ by their faith.

  23. @Jim Pierce #129

    I’m trying to give balance to the Becker teaching of Justification by citing another of his works which was problematic. The Swedes were concerned that Becker undermined the efficacy of the preached Word of absolution by his saying that preaching doesn’t actually deliver the forgiveness of sins, but only points the hearer back to forgiveness already won and delivered to all mankind at the cross. Becker seems to have strayed from Luther’s “forgiveness achieved/forgiveness delivered” way of speaking.

    They also had concerns about his “You are saved” evangelism message.

  24. @Joe Krohn #130

    Help me to understand your point, here, Mr. Krohn. Are you wanting to say that the cancellation of the “record of debt” by “nailing it to the cross” means that only the “record of debt” of those who have faith was nailed to the cross, their debt being canceled? IOW, only the sins of the elect were nailed to the cross? Is that what you are getting at?

  25. @Rev. James Schulz #131

    Thank you for providing that balance, Pr. Schulz. The only reason why I cited Dr. Becker’s essay is because of the Luther quotation I found in it and cite above. I am not very familiar with Dr. Becker’s teaching on Justification and regardless, I hope the Luther quote stands on its own.

  26. @Rev. James Schulz #134

    No worries, Pr. Schulz and thank you. What you bolded above in the Becker quote, I disagree with the wording. I think it unfortunate, since even though it is true that all sins are forgiven at the cross, how that forgiveness is distributed to us is through the means of Grace. So when my pastor preaches the forgiveness of sins through the Word of God, then forgiveness is being brought to me as assuredly as it was brought to me at my baptism and at the Lord’s Supper.

  27. @Jim Pierce #132
    No. That would be limited atonement.

    It is quite evident as I have observed previously that you equate the atonement (satisfaction for sins) with justification (the forgiveness of all sins). However, the following passages indicate that even though Christ’s sacrifice is the satisfaction for the debt of sin, there is a sin that is not covered by the atonement.

    Mark 3:28-30: “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven all their sins and all the blasphemies they utter. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin. He said this because they [the Pharisees] were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit’.”

    Matthew 12:30-32: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy. But the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

    Luke 12:8-10: “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

    Hebrews 6:4-8: “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case — the things that have to do with salvation.”

    Hebrews 10:26-29: “For we, sinning wilfully after receiving the full knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and fiery zeal about to consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think those deserve to be punished who have trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has considered as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who have insulted the Spirit of grace?”

  28. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_reconciliation:

    In Christian theology, universal reconciliation (also called universal salvation, Christian universalism, or in context simply universalism) is the doctrine that all sinful and alienated human souls—because of divine love and mercy—will ultimately be reconciled to God.[1]

    These guys believe there is no eternal sin. I hear you saying the same thing, Mr. Pierce. You and others keep hammering the point that the whole world, apart from faith is reconciled to God. If I am wrong please correct me.

  29. @Jim Pierce #121
    “Sadly, in your view the gift box of the Gospel is empty until something about the person changes and then it is filled with the gift of forgiveness. That is not the Gospel, Mr. Krohn.”

    Again, you are inferring synergism. Why does it have to be one way or the other? Something does change about the person. Their status before God changes when they are justified by faith.

  30. @Joe Krohn #136

    @Joe Krohn #138

    @Joe Krohn #140

    Mr. Krohn,

    First, it would be nice of you to answer my questions. I have asked you several in post #132 which you either missed or ignored. Furthermore, you did answer Mr. Preus’ question, but you were rather coy in your answer. Can you please return to post #132 above and engage my questions?

    Second, you list off a number of Scriptures concerning the “unforgivable sin” and you miss the whole point of those Scriptures, which is UN-repentance. Indeed, look at Hebrews 10 again, those sinning willfully, i.e. those who are unrepentant and refuse to believe the promises of God, are not forgiven. If it were the case that unbelief was unforgivable, then how do you explain the fact I was a blasphemous atheist for eighteen years and have repented of my sins? Remember, I could not by my own strength or reason come to the Lord. He had to have enlightened me and given me repentance and faith to receive His forgiveness. So, here I am, a forgiven child of God, Mr. Krohn.

    As for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit goes, I will not get into that and will leave that to a pastor to tackle. I have found there is so much confusion around just what that sin is, that I don’t want to open that can of worms.

    Third, you cite a Wiki article regarding “Universal Reconciliation” and obviously you didn’t continue reading it, or you have misunderstood it. I recommend the following article from the LCMS Christian Cyclopedia titled “Universalists” (found here). Christian universalism is the view that all of humanity will ultimately be restored into a right relationship with God. As a Lutheran I do not confess such a view. What Lutherans confess is that the grace of God is universal. We also confess that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, which could also be called “universal reconciliation” but not to be confused with the false teaching of “Universalism.”

    Finally, I am not stating you are a synergist. I believe you are simply raising a non-issue. But, perhaps you could actually answer those questions put to you? Perhaps you can stop being evasive in your responses? It would be refreshing if you actually engaged questions, Mr. Krohn.

  31. @Rev. James Schulz #128

    Dear brother, it is NEVER fair to dissect a Google Translation of someone’s words as though they were that man’s words.

    Becker said: Detta betyder, att när vi förkunnar evangelii budskap åstadkommer vi inte förlåtelsen genom vår predikan.

    The word in question is åstadkommer which Google rendered as “bring.” That is NOT what Becker said.

    A proper translation is that we don’t ACCOMPLISH forgiveness, or BRING ABOUT forgiveness. We proclaim what Christ has accomplished, and that ordination doesn’t make more valid something that is valid in itself.

    Guds välsinelse över er alla.

  32. @Joe Krohn #145

    Could you obfuscate a bit more, Mr. Krohn? Why don’t you try actually answering the questions? For example, flesh out what the “no” answer means. Does it mean “No, in a sense Jesus did not take away the sins of the world and here is that sense….”

    Give it a go, Mr. Krohn.

  33. @Jim Pierce #146
    Let’s wipe the whiteboard, shall we? I will be glad to answer one question at a time. I also think it would be conducive to the discussion to keep comments to a few sentences. Things get discombobulated easily as the previous posts have shown. The Bible was written simply. Let’s keep it simple.

  34. @Joe Krohn #147

    I’m sorry Mr. Krohn. I am not interested in starting over. We are on post #148 and I don’t want to add another 148 postings. Besides, my questions aren’t at all that difficult to answer. Pr. Crandall’s question wasn’t difficult to answer and neither was Mr. Preus’. In fact, his could have been answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

    It isn’t difficult to scroll up… I tell you what… I will save you the problem of scrolling up and I will cut and paste my questions from #132 above and put them below with some minor editing to help you see the questions.

    Here’s a little context. Commenting on Colossians 2:13–15 you write,

    You are out of context, Mr. Pierce. Go back to verse 6 in the citation you provided in Colossians. Paul is in the context of faith. Of course all their trespasses are forgiven. They are in Christ by their faith.

    I respond (#132 above)…

    “Help me to understand your point, here, Mr. Krohn.

    1) Are you wanting to say that the cancellation of the “record of debt” by “nailing it to the cross” means that only the “record of debt” of those who have faith was nailed to the cross, their debt being canceled?

    1a) IOW, only the sins of the elect were nailed to the cross?

    2) Is that what you are getting at?”

  35. Of course the whole world’s sins (past, present, and future) were nailed to the cross. Our sins are what makes the Holy Lamb die. Where UOJ goes wrong, though, is that it says that the righteousness that Christ acquired and holds is conferred upon all men (Brief Statement Article 17b). I don’t care how much one pushes a “subjective justification.” It is wrong that a sentence of that nature should even exist.

    I think UOJ is very problematic. Either Christ holds your righteousness or he has conferred/imputed it. In the Brief Statement it says he has conferred it upon all, regardless of faith. Again, no matter how much one screams “means of grace! means of grace!” you can’t take back the first part of what you say, namely that Christ’s righteousness has been conferred on all whether they believe it or not.

    Talking about faith Luther says, “But where there is such a faith, God no longer sees any sins; for then you stand before God, not in your name but in Christ’s name. He adorns you with grace and righteousness…” (W 52, 264 f) The problem is that UOJ-ers say that because of Christ’s sacrifice God no longer sees sin (again, regardless of faith). This is simply not true for all the world. It makes God out to be a liar when he supposedly sees no sin because the world is “already declared righteous” because of Christ’s sacrifice. God then takes back His declaration when someone rejects it. I think it is pretty darn simple. Did God declare the world, and therefore all inhabitants, righteous or didn’t He?! You can’t say He did to a person and then when they reject it say “He didn’t really mean *you* then, I guess.”

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