Aversion to Sanctification

It was suggested in a comment by Pastor Paul McCain that we re-post this post of his published back in 2005 that includes an article written by Doctor Kurt Marquart:

 

I was just in a conversation with two younger men who were seriously saying that listening to the audio pornography and vile filth of Eminem is appropriate for Christians. One suggested that because only what comes out of a man is what makes him sinful that it matters not what he sees, or hears, as a Christian. These two young men are sadly typical of a poorly formed understanding of the life of good works to which we are called as Christians that seems pandemic in the Christian Church, where apparently some can wax eloquent about how they are striving to be faithful to God’s Word, but then turn right around and wallow in the mire and squalor of sin. This all the more underscores for me the point that we have a serious lack of emphasis on sanctification in our beloved Lutheran church. There is much teaching that is not being done, that must done. Simply repeating formulas and phrases about justification is not teaching and preaching the whole counsel of God. Comforting people with the Gospel when there is no genuine repentance for sin is doing them a disservice. There is a serious “short circuit” here that we need to be mindful of. Let this be clear. Listening to the “music” of swine such as Eminem is sinful and willfully choosing to listen to it is sin that drives out the Holy Spirit. This is deadly serious business. Deadly. Serious.

Pastors who wash their hands of this responsibility claiming that they want to avoid interjecting law into their sermons when they have preached the Gospel are simply shirking their duty as preachers and are being unfaithful to God’s Word.

We have done such a fine job explaining that we are not saved by works that we have, I fear, neglected to urge the faithful to lives of good works as faithfully and clearly as we should. This should not be so among us brethren.

I’m growing increasingly concerned that with the necessary distinction between faith and works that we must always maintain, we Lutherans are tempted to speak of good works and the life of sanctification in such a way as to either minimize it, or worse yet, neglect it. I read sermons and hear comments that give me the impression that some Lutherans think that good works are something that “just happen” on some sort of a spiritual auto-pilot. Concern over a person believing their works are meritorious has led to what borders on paranoia to the point that good works are simply not taught or discussed as they should be. It seems some have forgotten that in fact we do confess three uses of the law, not just a first or second use.

The Apostle, St. Paul, never ceases to urge good works on his listeners nad readers. I recall a conversation once with a person who should know better telling me that the exhortations to good works and lengthy discussions of sanctification we find in the New Testament are not a model at all for preaching, since Paul is not “preaching” but rather writing a letter. This is not a good thing.

A number of years ago an article appeared that put matters well and sounded a very important word of warning and caution. It is by Professor Kurt E. Marquart of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I strongly encourage you to give it your most serious attention.

 

Antinomian Aversion to Sanctification?
By Doctor Kurt Marquart

An emerited brother writes that he is disturbed by a kind of preaching that avoids sanctification and “seemingly questions the Formula of Concord . . . about the Third Use of the Law.” The odd thing is that this attitude, he writes, is found among would-be confessional pastors, even though it is really akin to the antinomianism of “Seminex”! He asks, “How can one read the Scriptures over and over and not see how much and how often our Lord (in the Gospels) and the Apostles (in the Epistles) call for Christian sanctification, crucifying the flesh, putting down the old man and putting on the new man, abounding in the work of the Lord, provoking to love and good works, being fruitful . . . ?”

I really have no idea where the anti-sanctification bias comes from. Perhaps it is a knee-jerk over-reaction to “Evangelicalism”: since they stress practical guidance for daily living, we should not! Should we not rather give even more and better practical guidance, just because we distinguish clearly between Law and Gospel? Especially given our anti-sacramental environment, it is of course highly necessary to stress the holy means of grace in our preaching. But we must beware of creating a kind of clericalist caricature that gives the impression that the whole point of the Christian life is to be constantly taking in preaching, absolution and Holy Communion-while ordinary daily life and callings are just humdrum time-fillers in between! That would be like saying that we live to eat, rather than eating to live. The real point of our constant feeding by faith, on the Bread of Life, is that we might gain an ever-firmer hold of Heaven-and meanwhile become ever more useful on earth! We have, after all, been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Cars, too, are not made to be fueled and oiled forever at service-stations. Rather, they are serviced in order that they might yield useful mileage in getting us where we need to go. Real good works before God are not showy, sanctimonious pomp and circumstance, or liturgical falderal in church, but, for example, “when a poor servant girl takes care of a little child or faithfully does what she is told” (Large Catechism, Ten Commandments, par. 314, Kolb-Wengert, pg. 428).

The royal priesthood of believers needs to recover their sense of joy and high privilege in their daily service to God (1 Pet. 2:9). The “living sacrifice” of bodies, according to their various callings, is the Christian’s “reasonable service” or God-pleasing worship, to which St. Paul exhorts the Romans “by the mercies of God” (Rom. 12:1), which he had set out so forcefully in the preceding eleven chapters! Or, as St. James puts it: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (1:27). Liberal churches tend to stress the one, and conservatives the other, but the Lord would have us do both!

Antinomianism appeals particularly to the Lutheran flesh. But it cannot claim the great Reformer as patron. On the contrary, he writes:

“That is what my Antinomians, too, are doing today, who are preaching beautifully and (as I cannot but think) with real sincerity about Christ’s grace, about the forgiveness of sin and whatever else can be said about the doctrine of redemption. But they flee as if it were the very devil the consequence that they should tell the people about the third article, of sanctification, that is, of new life in Christ. They think one should not frighten or trouble the people, but rather always preach comfortingly about grace and the forgiveness of sins in Christ, and under no circumstance use these or similar words, “Listen! You want to be a Christian and at the same time remain an adulterer, a whoremonger, a drunken swine, arrogant, covetous, a usurer, envious, vindictive, malicious, etc.!” Instead they say, “Listen! Though you are an adulterer, a whoremonger, a miser, or other kind of sinner, if you but believe, you are saved, and you need not fear the law. Christ has fulfilled it all! . . . They may be fine Easter preachers, but they are very poor Pentecost preachers, for they do not preach… “about the sanctification by the Holy Spirit,” but solely about the redemption of Jesus Christ, although Christ (whom they extol so highly, and rightly so) is Christ, that is, He has purchased redemption from sin and death so that the Holy Spirit might transform us out of the old Adam into new men . . . Christ did not earn only gratia, grace, for us, but also donum, “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” so that we might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin. Now he who does not abstain from sin, but persists in his evil life, must have a different Christ, that of the Antinomians; the real Christ is not there, even if all the angels would cry, “Christ! Christ!” He must be damned with this, his new Christ (On the Council and the Church, Luther’s Works, 41:113-114).

Where are the “practical and clear sermons,” which according to the Apology “hold an audience” (XXIV, 50, p. 267). Apology XV, 42-44 (p. 229) explains:

“The chief worship of God is to preach the Gospel…in our churches all the sermons deal with topics like these: repentance, fear of God, faith in Christ, the righteousness of faith, prayer . . . the cross, respect for the magistrates and all civil orders, the distinction between the kingdom of Christ (the spiritual kingdom) and political affairs, marriage, the education and instruction of children, chastity, and all the works of love.”

“Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, unto Thy Church Thy Holy Spirit, and the wisdom which cometh down from above, that Thy Word, as becometh it, may not be bound, but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve Thee, and in the confession of Thy Name abide unto the end: through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.”

Kurt Marquart
Concordia Theological Quarterly

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Aversion to Sanctification — 76 Comments

  1. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #31

    That was superbly well put, interesting how we both apparently experienced the same faulty teaching about preaching and were “rescued” from it simply by paying attention to Luther and our other fathers in the Faith.

    Ditto.

    @James Sarver #49

    I really wonder what is on your list of the “right good works” and, assuming your list is correct, how you know that those works are not being done by those you cite.

    List: I would cite the Small Catechism, 10 Commandments. Throw in a little of Luther on vocation.

    How do I know being a monk is not the highest form of good: Vocation.

    How do I know that the Baptist’s view is not right: vocation.

    Further, it would be interesting to know how you can tell the difference between good works (assuming they are on your list of the “right” ones) that are performed by those without faith and those same works performed by one who is presumably a person of faith.

    You can’t. No one can. No one knows. No one can look into the heart.

    But that certainly does not change the importance of doing the good works, does it?

    Or, for that matter, those same works performed by a person of faith whose old Adam is acting under the extortion of the Law as opposed to his new man responding to the Gospel. Such discernment! How does one come by it?

    Once again: I don’t care.

    See, that is the best part of my position: I don’t need to have this distinction. I am unconcerned by it. Do I wish that husbands not watch porn? You bet. Do I want them to do it as the New Man responding to the Gospel. Yes. But will I be satisfied with old Adam acting under extortion of the Law? Sure.

    After all, I am fairly confident that the former when done will turn to the latter. Maybe not the first time — but eventually.

    What a terrible burden it would seem to preach if one does not believe that.

    Once again, look at you own post. It certainly isn’t Law/Gospel — but you expect to bring about a change in people’s behaviors, right?

    Do you care why? I mean, do you want pastors preaching Law/Gospel because of the New Man or Old Adam? How much does it really matter?

  2. Rev. McCall

    Who has adopted a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy about sanctification? I am not arguing in any way against sanctification or good works.

    It also runs the great risk of distorting sanctification into something I do rather than what the Holy Spirit does.

    I feel generally that those who support the latter position reject the former position. So, this is why I would say that your policy is ultimately against good works.

    I myself don’t quite understand what the distinction is between a sermon and real life. If I knew someone were doing something that they ought not to do, what would I do? What would my response be?

    And would I say it any differently in a sermon?

    Now, in so far as you say:

    The point is, should the main thrust of a sermon be about what I must do and how I must live or about how Christ lived and what He did for me?

    I agree with this. Everyone agrees with this.

    But I think that you can within the sermon, speak clearly and pointedly about how people ought to live their lives. Just as we find Jesus and Paul doing in non-sermons. Maybe these non-sermons are helpful references for the sermon. Maybe we should bring more non-sermon elements into our sermons.

    And, maybe when we look at what Luther wrote, we’d see that he had very little difficulty in telling people how they ought to live. And his sermons did also talk about what Christ did for them.

    But let me get back to this:

    It also runs the great risk of distorting sanctification into something I do rather than what the Holy Spirit does.

    What exactly do you mean by this? I disagree completely with the words — but maybe I don’t fully understand what you are saying. So, could you explain this in different words.

  3. Rev. McCall

    You ask:
    Who has adopted a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy about sanctification? I am not arguing in any way against sanctification or good works.

    Then say:
    It also runs the great risk of distorting sanctification into something I do rather than what the Holy Spirit does.

    I feel generally that those who support the latter position reject the former position. So, this is why I would say that your policy is ultimately against good works.

    I myself don’t quite understand what the distinction is between a sermon and real life. If I knew someone were doing something that they ought not to do, what would I do? What would my response be?

    And would I say it any differently in a sermon?

    Now, in so far as you say:

    The point is, should the main thrust of a sermon be about what I must do and how I must live or about how Christ lived and what He did for me?

    I agree with this. Everyone agrees with this.

    But I think that you can within the sermon, speak clearly and pointedly about how people ought to live their lives. Just as we find Jesus and Paul doing in non-sermons. Maybe these non-sermons are helpful references for the sermon. Maybe we should bring more non-sermon elements into our sermons.

    And, maybe when we look at what Luther wrote, we’d see that he had very little difficulty in telling people how they ought to live. And his sermons did also talk about what Christ did for them.

    But let me get back to this:

    It also runs the great risk of distorting sanctification into something I do rather than what the Holy Spirit does.

    What exactly do you mean by this? I disagree completely with the words — but maybe I don’t fully understand what you are saying. So, could you explain this in different words.

    I’ll still stick with the main point of a sermon should be to preach what Christ has done, not what I must do.

    Sure. Because then outside the sermon, you’ll tell them the latter. Like you do here on this blog.

    I’m just saying, combine the two.

  4. Rev. McCall, please do me the kindness of reading my comments more carefully. Of course sermons are Christ-centered and focused on Him. This does not mean they should never end with an exhortation to good works.

    If you would spend a lot of time reading the sermons of Luther and other great orthodox Lutherans, up to and including Walther, you will see that the view you and I were both taught at the seminary is flatly wrong and contradicted by nearly 400 years of faithful Law/Gospel preaching.

    It took me a few years to get over the mythologies about what the nature of Law/Gospel preaching is really all about.

    I encourage you to do the same.

  5. @Mark Louderback #3
    My aversion or issue here is that much more so than not our attempts to use 3rd use of the Law perverts the Gospel.
    I do try to read Luther’s sermons. I also am willing to state that I am probably over-reacting to what I am perceiving to be the evangelical problem in many of our churches. It started in seminary. I did not receive training at the seminary that stressed the Law/Gospel preaching Rev. McCain talks about. Instead most were writing sermons about, “How to love you wife more deeply” or “7 Steps towards gaining the fruits of the Spirit”. It is this fascination and Pharisitical love for the law and keeping it (apart from Christ) that I see so often. I see it all the time from Lutheran pastors in their video sermons, etc. The whole point of the sermon is to modify behavior, not to preach or ground anything in Christ crucified and risen. Sometimes Christ is mentioned, but often painfully, like a quick one sentence obligatory Gospel. Use Rev. Wilken’s sermon evaluation criteria on these sometime. I believe they include, “Is Christ mentioned? How often? How is He mentioned? Why is He mentioned? What does He do?”

    “It also runs the great risk of distorting sanctification into something I do rather than what the Holy Spirit does.”

    I am meaning when sanctification is preached not as the work of the Holy Spirit, grounded in Christ and in my daily drowning the Old Adam in baptism, but simply my actions and behavior modification that I do because of the Law. There is nothing of forgiveness or Christ, just “do this because Jesus said so” type of thing. An example from another posting on the recent marriage article:

    “Just went to a wedding last night where the officiant basically gave a lecture on what the couple needs to do everyday. It was such a long list that I don’t think anyone could ever live up to. It offered no hope for when those standards couldn’t be met. Everything was “in the Spirit of Love” which I really don’t know what that is aside from Christ. Forgiveness…no mention. The hair on my back rose as the officiant oogled over the bride and made light of the entire marriage matter. No wonder marriages struggle. There is very little realistic information on how being resourced through Christ is the ultimate strength we need, DAILY. Not a bunch of rules to live by that set us up for failure. ”

    I’m not sure if that helps clarify. I would ask this, this Sunday both the Mormons and I will talk about how we should love our neighbor. Why is what they preach any different than what I preach?

  6. In #8 I had stated:

    “But I guess if C.F.W. Walther puts them on The List, that settles it. 😉 ”

    mbw responded in #14: “I don’t see Joplin nor ragtime mentioned.”

    Later in #45 mbw writes: “I am waiting for specifics from Dr. Vehse on how Walther condemned Scott Joplin.”

    I’m not sure where mbw thinks that I indicated Walther condemned Scott Joplin.

    mbw’s earlier response correctly notes that in his Dance and Theater (St. Louis, Concordia Lutheran – Verlag, 1886) C.F.W Walther (1811-1887) does not mention Joplin or ragtime. This, as hinted at by the smiley face I had attached to the comment in #8, is most likely due to the fact that ragtime, and particularly the ragtime music of Scott Joplin, did not become popular until the 1890s (Joplin began publishing his music in 1895 and his Maple Leaf Rag in 1899).

  7. Willis, I do understand your point and you are absolutely correct. “How to” sermons can easily speak all about works, with a nod only toward Christ, if at all. I totally agree with you, totally, on your concern.

    The antidote to the bad preaching you describe is not to run off in the other direction.

    A sermon can, and should be, Christ-centered, Cross-focussed that properly distinguishes Law and Gospel and contain parenesis, and avoiding any discussion of the resultant form and shape of the life we have in Christ is not a good response to bad preaching.

    “Thesis VII : First Corinthians 1:30?He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Here we have the true sequence. The first requirement is to obtain wisdom, [that is,] knowledge of the way of salvation. This is the primary step. Next comes righteousness, which we obtain by faith. Not until this has been obtained does sanctification come. I must first know that God has forgiven my sins, that he has cast them into the depth of the sea, before it gives me real joy to lead a sanctified life. Before that it was a serious burden to me. At first I was angry at God; I hated Him for demanding so many things of me. I would have liked to cast Him from His throne. I thought in my heart: “It would be beter if there were no God.” But once I was pardoned and justified, I delighted – not only in the Gospel but also in the Law. [Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Gospel, CPH, 2010, p. 103]”

  8. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #6
    I thank both you and Mark for your comments and time in responding. I freely will admit that including sanctification in sermons is a struggle for me. I know in my case my “aversion” to it is because of being so bombarded with cross-less sanctification sermons that my over-reaction is to want to nix sanctification instead of simply bringing Christ and the cross back in. I do like Luther’s sermons, especially his “House Postils” and find them to be wonderful to help in understanding how to better preach cross-filled sanctification sermons. Thank you for the encouraging article and posts!

  9. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #4

    I wonder if what happened was that a number of writings that were essentially _against_ specific and widespread American revivalist/Arminian preaching errors morphed to some extent into _positive_ guidance on how to preach the true doctrine. That would not be the same thing. It would be like taking antibiotics long after an infection has healed and expecting to be super-healthy.

  10. Pr. Louderback @ #1,

    “How do I know being a monk is not the highest form of good: Vocation.

    How do I know that the Baptist’s view is not right: vocation.”

    Nice job of missing the point. This all goes back to your assertion that the Gospel is ineffective for inspiring good works because you can’t see them. You seem to be saying that the monk and the Baptist both heard the Gospel and because they are mistaken about the works they consciously do that the Gospel has produced nothing good in them. How do you know?

    “I mean, do you want pastors preaching Law/Gospel because of the New Man or Old Adam? How much does it really matter.”

    No, what I want is pastors preaching because they believe the promise that the Word (both Law and Gospel) will not return empty. The Word will be effective regardless, but I find it disturbing to think that those proclaiming it may not believe it.

  11. FOR DISCUSSION:

    Is the following Word of the Lord appropriately placed at an end of the sermon, after you have preached the full and free forgiveness of sins for the sake of Christ? Why? Why not? Why does Paul place this text after he has declared and carefully explained and applied justification by grace, through faith, alone?

    Ephesians 5:6-21

    6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

    7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

    8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

    9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

    10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

    11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

    12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

    13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

    14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

    15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

    16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

    17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

    18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

    19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

    20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

    21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

  12. James Sarver

    Nice job of missing the point. This all goes back to your assertion that the Gospel is ineffective for inspiring good works because you can’t see them.

    I got it. I see what you are saying. I would phrase it as “A proclamation of Law then Gospel is not the only proper way of inspiring good works'” That is what I am saying.

    You seem to be saying that the monk and the Baptist both heard the Gospel and because they are mistaken about the works they consciously do that the Gospel has produced nothing good in them. How do you know?

    Well, actually, I don’t think at all. Not only has the Gospel created faith in them, I’m sure it brings about a multitude of good works in them.

    My point is, that it does not bring about every single good work. Both are confused as to what the “good works” are that they should do. So, their needs to be a focused teaching of those good works, rather than just proclaiming Law then Gospel.

    No, what I want is pastors preaching because they believe the promise that the Word (both Law and Gospel) will not return empty. The Word will be effective regardless, but I find it disturbing to think that those proclaiming it may not believe it.

    The Word does not say “Proclaim Law then Gospel to your children and they will do good works naturally, from the Gospel proclamation.” No, we are to teach our children. That does not negate our trust in the work of the Gospel. It is the call of our vocation.

    Make sense?

  13. @Rev. McCall #5

    I honestly have sympathy with your statements. I did not have the experience you have with sermons — and perhaps if I did I would hold to your position.

    The fact is, I have encountered the other view — the view that I feel downplays the simple proclamation of pious living. Which then is taken up elsewhere.

    But yes, if Christ is just an after-thought, then that is not good.

    Still, when you say this: I am meaning when sanctification is preached not as the work of the Holy Spirit, grounded in Christ and in my daily drowning the Old Adam in baptism, but simply my actions and behavior modification that I do because of the Law.

    I wonder what the distinction is between my daily drowning the Old Adam and my actions and behavior modification. What is the difference? I mean, they seem quite similar.

    Doing good works — living a pious life — is not just a matter of being repentant. It is a matter of doing those things that are right. And this is something that we learn. I believe that it is something we learn not just through a proclamation of the Gospel. Luther taught the catechism because he wanted people to know what good works were and what the people should be doing.

  14. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #12
    “Why does Paul place this text after he has declared and carefully explained and applied justification by grace, through faith, alone?”

    Because it is only in Christ that we are able to please God.

    “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
    (Hebrews 11:6)

    I was taught at seminary to start with the Law, preaching it in all its severity, continue to the Gospel, preaching it in all its pure sweetness, and then finish up with some application. For example, Herod was awful, but you’re really no better. Even if you never put a man’s head on a platter, you did help put Christ on the cross to pay for the sins you did commit. But no one took his life; Christ lay it down for the sins of the world — Herod’s and yours, too. Now that God has restored you as his dear child in Christ, you want to please him and here is how to do that.

    Over the years I was influenced enough by the popular teaching that it is always wrong to end a sermon with Law that I started adding a little Law/Gospel finale after the part about walking as children of light, just in case someone was sitting out there all proud of how wonderfully nice (and better than most other Christians) they had become (in Christ, of course!): No matter how good you may get at this Christian living, never ever trust in your own good works. You’ll always fall short on your own. Trust always and only in the work Christ already did for you!

  15. At the risk of thread-jacking–at least slightly–permit a question:

    It seems to me that those LCMS pastors who were trained in higher criticism (H/C) have a tendency to preach sanctification almost to the exclusion of the Gospel. For all of their “gospel-talk”, I’ve noticed that the gospel gets short shrift–it is treated more as information than proclamation (See Senkbeil’s “Sanctification”). The result is an undue emphasis on good works. A brief outline would be, “Jesus loves you, so get to work.” I haven’t been able to figure out the reason for this phenomenon. They love to talk about the gospel, but seem afraid or unwilling to proclaim it. Or is it just me?

  16. “The formula for bad preaching is simple, you mix law and gospel and come out with a law that sounds like the gospel in its excessive religiosity like: “Grace means unconditional acceptance of your good creation,” or even “acceptance of your acceptance while unacceptable,” “Try, but if you fail God will not condemn.” “The Gospel is free, now all you need to do is join God’s mission and spread it.” “God is love, so there is no law” or “Christ stands for no barriers or divisions.” Most especially, bad preaching offers Christ as a principle or a sign that is supposed to influence you to become like him as measured by the law. …”

    http://thefirstpremise.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/preachers-are-the-problem-for-the-old-adam/

  17. @Win #16
    You are right. My two cents has been that anytime we talk about what we should do we shift the focus from Christ to us. This is my aversion to this type of preaching. What also happens sometimes is that narrowly defined sanctification is preached. For example, the pastor exhorts the congregation to serve the church and be a witness to Christ in the community. The poor mom who stays at home with her kids can very easily feel as though she has failed to keep the Law because she does not get to get out that much. She is crushed by the Law, robbed of the Gospel, and her vocation is minimalized or seen by her as not important. The Law always makes us look at ourselves. Even when we intend to use it in a certain way. There is always the very real chance that people will walk away crushed by it. Not so with the Gospel.
    We still can talk about sanctification in Bible Class, at home with our children, in confirmation, and so on. The purpose of the sermon is to proclaim Christ and what He has done and to focus our hearts and minds on His work and His blessings.

  18. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #19
    This is my struggle, it still leaves the hearer with the Law. What we may intend to be heard as third use may easily be heard as second use to the person who has say, an alcohol problem. Now what? I’m still not convinced that just because we teach third use of the Law or just because Paul writes about it in a letter automatically means that it is necessary for in a sermon. The Confession/Absolution is simple Law/Gospel. Holy Communion is primarily Gospel. Why are we content to let the rest of the service be simply Law/Gospel but insist that the sermon must include this extra exhortation to do good works? Also, if I have read the Epistle (in this case) from the lectern, has the hearer not already been exhorted through God’s Word to do good works?

  19. I would suggest that the proper distinction between Law and Gospel does not consist in some kind of chronological order in the sermon, but emphasis.

  20. @Rev. McCall #22

    Simply preach the text. If there is no Gospel there, insert it. Most important, don’t get caught up in the strictly Law / Gospel paridigm. Read Luther sermons, many of them will have a Law / Gosper / Law / Gospel / Law / Gospel and sometimes ends with Law. Why? He simply preaches the text and if he ends with the Law, the Gospel always sticks because it’s preached in it’s full sweetness! Keep at it brother!

  21. Again, I would cite Marquart’s wisdom:

    “I really have no idea where the anti-sanctification bias comes from. Perhaps it is a knee-jerk over-reaction to “Evangelicalism”: since they stress practical guidance for daily living, we should not! Should we not rather give even more and better practical guidance, just because we distinguish clearly between Law and Gospel?”

  22. Where are the “practical and clear sermons,” which according to the Apology “hold an audience” (XXIV, 50, p. 267). Apology XV, 42-44 (p. 229) explains:

    “The chief worship of God is to preach the Gospel…
    in our churches all the sermons deal with topics like these:
    repentance, fear of God, faith in Christ, the righteousness of faith, prayer . . . the cross, respect for the magistrates and all civil orders,
    +++
    the distinction between the kingdom of Christ (the spiritual kingdom) and …
    political affairs, marriage, the education and instruction of children, chastity, and all the works of love.”

    1) I would suggest that as long as that distinction in the last paragraph is followed, it really doesn’t matter the order of Law and Gospel in a Sermon. and here is the distinction

    2) the Law is ALWAYS and ONLY for the Old Adam. That is why the Apology says that the Law always, only, necessarily, and continuously accuses, kills, and terrifies the conscience. And only faith can see that this is a GOOD thing! Faith accepts God’s judgement in the Law and desires the death of Old Adam. Old Adam flees God’s judgement by trying to turn works into something spiritual in order to get right with God. how do we know what is law and what is gospel? EVERYTHING in creation and scriptures is Law. Every. Thing. And that SAME everything becomes the Goodness and Mercy of Father, Son and HS, alone, when faith is implanted in the heart. That is why fc art 5 can say that christ crucified is the most punishing Law on the planet. and at the same time, that SAME preaching is the most comforting gospel. so how would reordering law, gospel, gospel, law, law, law, gospel gospel, law change that fact? it cant. it wont.

    3)Sanctification, narrowly speaking (fc art II), is something we cannot cooperate in. The Word works it in us. That is because of what the confessions say about original sin in art I: the natural man, even after faith has come, is ***totally powerless *** in anything spiritual. the natural man cannot even make a beginning. he is dead to spiritual things. **** that does not change after baptism.*** so something NEW, something SUPERnatural, has to be put into us. That is the HS who works through us. Yes, we do the work. But it is like a blender doing its work. if someone unplugs it, then…… That is the part where fc art II needs to read with full attention. the HS doesnt enable the flesh to now cooperate. he kills it. and through the word he sanctifies the believer. how? by transforming the old adam flesh? no. by restoring the Image of God and Original Righeousness.

    3b) and here mark L is right: there is NO difference between works of the Law and Fruits of the Spirit as to the works themselves. The difference is not in the works or their quality. The difference is, alone, in the entire man, and his faith in, alone, christ. alone. did i say alone? this is taught to us in fc art 6.

    4) and here is the problem: some do not see that the Image of God was COMPLETELY lost in the fall. and… they feel that the restoration of that lost image is what? reconformity to the law! so sanctification and what baptism does is to reconform us to the law. and the gospel and faith equips us and moulds us into that reconformity. this is wrong. the image of God is, alone, alone, alone, faith, alone , in christ alone. the Original Righteoousness that was lost to adam and restored in baptism is what? faith , alone, in christ ALONE. And what is faith? we describe faith, alone, by what saving faith does: faith that saves USES Christ , as the ONLY Shield between us and the wrath of God. the original sin was not the eating of the fruit. that was an actual sin. the original sin was when adam and eve came to doubt the Word of God and lost their faith. the eating of the fruit, as with our actual sinning, was the consequence of that original sin, which was the loss of faith, alone, in Christ, alone.

    5) so where does the Law fit into paragraph 4)? in two ways: as to the old adam, the Law continues to always and only kill accuse and terrrify the sinner. at the same time this happens: the prophecy in jeremiah is fulfilled: “I will again write the Law into the hearts of men.” the Law in the hearts of believers again written is a fruit of faith first being planted in the heart. it is the faith that is the Image of God. when faith is restored, then also the law becomes written not just in the mind as it is in the natural old adam man (rom 2:14) but also now in the heart of new man.

    6)It’s not really a matter of emphasis as Pastor Mc Cain suggests. Neither Law nor Gospel can really be emphasized enough! why not? this is why not: The stronger the Law, the sweeter the Gospel.

  23. Can someone please point out to me ANY sane person who is opposed to love, good works, mercy, compassion, etc. is there anyone who things self-restraint and self-control are BAD things? Romans 2:14 tells us that EVERY natural man or Old Adam has these rules written in his reason at birth, and further this: the ***work*** of the Decalog written in reason is written in the heart . What does Paul mean by “work”? This: The law always , only, necessarily , and continuously, accuses the old adam of the believer. sin, law and death are inseparable terms. that part of us that will die is under the rule of sin and the law.

    so if sanctification is described as being love, good works, mercy, compassion, virtue, sexual purity, etc etc, then what is the difference between the Gospel and Philosophy? this is why the apology says this:

    “Concerning morality and ethics, nothing can be added to the Ethics of pagan Aristotle.” (AP love and the law)

    No Christ, Bible or HS is necessary for morality or ethics or virtue. Human power, free will and reason are able to know and do all this. not perfectly, but yes DO it. It is the heart keeping, the spiritual keeping of the Law that no one can even make a start at doing (ap II and fc I and II). there is NOTHING in man, either before or after baptism, that is able to start or do anything at all spiritual. That does not change. our reason, will, body soul? must die. no transformation is possible. The NEW added to the Natural Man, alone faith, and the indwelling HS alone, can use the Law spiritually because now faith is there.

    this distribution is useful to know where, alone, the Holy Spirit is necessary. (AP art 18)

    The HS is necessary, alone, alone, alone, to have faith in Christ and to keep the Law inwardly and spiritually in the heart. alone alone alone alone.

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