The Dummies Guide to Preaching Sanctification, by Pr. Rossow

May 1st, 2013 Post by

Here are ten simple points to remember in the current raging debate in the LCMS over preaching sanctification. They are sort of a “Dummies’ Guide” for people like me who need it.

1. Can I end a sermon with an exhortation?

Answer: Yes

2. Should I end a sermon with an exhortation?

Answer: Since it is the law, if that is the last thing you want your people to hear then go ahead. Remember though, it is powerless to create any sanctification.

3. Then should we exhort at all?

Answer: Yes. Just remember it is the law. It is the third use of the law but it is still the law. Luther reminded us that the law always kills. It is best, that if you want your people moved, regenerated and inspired to do good works, that you end your sermon with the gospel.

4. Then is there even such a thing as the third use of the law?

Answer: Of course there is. Martin Chemnitz wrote a thesis on it.

5. I have heard there is a primary use of the law, is that true?

Answer: Yes, it is the second use otherwise described as the mirror. Speaking of Martin Chemnitz, go read Article VI of the Formula (The Third Use of the Law) and ask yourself each time the word law is used if it is the second or third use. You will find that he is usually talking about the second use even though the article is on the third use. If that doesn’t convince you that the second use is primary and should be our focus, then I don’t know what will. If you want another fun and illustrative trick to do with the three uses of the law see my point 8 below.

6. So if it is OK to exhort then when should I do this exhorting?

Answer: Anytime. Do it in the beginning of the sermon, the middle, the end (just remember that the law always kills), during Bible class, catechesis, pastoral care, whenever you would like.

7. If I never exhort or preach sanctification does that mean that I reject the absolute moral truth of God’s law?

Answer: Of course not. You are probably just so taken with the Gospel that you think it is powerful enough to create sanctified living. Besides, when you killed the hearers with the law in your preaching you were proving that you do indeed uphold the law and besides, once your hearers have been killed by the most important use of the law, they will intuitively know the details of the sanctified life even if you never remind them again in the sermon.

8. What do you mean by this notion of intuitive law and how can I trust that they know it?

Answer: The law is very simple, almost intuitive: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. After you have killed them with whatever part of this simple law the text provides that day, when you preach some form of the Gospel from that same text, your hearers will remember the law you used to kill them and know that the Gospel has now freed them to follow that law. They will be set free to love God wholly and turn the other cheek, in all of its manifestations. Is that an amazing trick or what? You can actually preach the third use of the law without ever preaching it! It is sort of like Chemnitz writing an article on the third use of the law and talking more about the primary use. Here’s another fascinating take on this. Isn’t it interesting that there is more to the law than just the ten commandments? There are more good works, ones that I have not even imagined, than I could ever preach on. There is no way I could ever preach all of the law to my people and properly instruct them in it. When I preach the Gospel to them they take their new found Gospel regenerated power and find ways turn the other cheek that I didn’t even exhort them to, and even invent new good works that the third-users will have never even conceived. The law is fairly intuitive to the old sinful self. This is where the first use (the inborn conscience/curb) also serves the second use. It is not rocket science to know when I am not serving God with my all and what it means to turn the other cheek. The problem is not preaching enough of the third use. The problem is trying to kill the old self with the primary use and then preaching the Gospel sweetly enough that the new man goes out to create these good works.

9. Is this really going to be enough instruction in the law for my parish?

Answer: Preaching the second use of the law in the sermon, the same secondary use that Chemnitz keeps referring to in his article on the third use, is not the only time you are going to talk about the law. You have already instructed all your catechumens, junior and senior, for weeks on the Ten Commandments and you should be regularly preaching the Ten Commandments during Lent and don’t forget the opportunities you have during the other penitential season, Advent.

10. How do I know you are not just trying to turn me into a good-for-nothing, stinking liberal like Werner Elert?

Answer: Werner Elert taught some amazing things that make the Gospel really clear, like his teaching on faith as a mathematical point (Structure…, p. 81 f.). That does not mean that we devour Elert hook, line and sinker. That’s for people like the good-for-nothing, stinking, liberal Matthew “Hegel” Becker. Maybe now that you have learned how to handle sanctification like me and other dummies, you can spend your time on other issues in our synod like asking President Harrison and others why heterodox teachers like Becker and others are allowed in the fellowship of the true, visible, sanctified church on earth.






Rules for comments on this site:


Engage the contents and substance of the post. Rabbit trails and side issues do not help the discussion of the topics.  Our authors work hard to write these articles and it is a disservice to them to distract from the topic at hand.  If you have a topic you think is important to have an article or discussion on, we invite you to submit a request through the "Ask a Pastor" link or submit a guest article.


Provide a valid email address. If you’re unwilling to do this, we are unwilling to let you comment.


Provide at least your first name. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example.  If you have a good reason to use a fake name, please do so but realize that the administrators of the site expect a valid email address and also reserve the right to ask you for your name privately at any time.


If you post as more than one person from the same IP address, we’ll block that address.


Do not engage in ad hominem arguments. We will delete such comments, and will not be obligated to respond to any complaints (public or private ones) about deleting your comments.


Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives.  If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.


We reserve the right to identify and deal with trollish behavior as we see fit and without apology.  This may include warnings (public or private ones) or banning.

  1. BW
    May 19th, 2013 at 08:45 | #1

    I was reading Pastor Sonntag’s translation of Luther’s Antinomian Theses and Disputations last night and I found the quote below (Among many others). From the Fifteenth Argument of the Second Disputation:

    “You know that Paul often connects these two, as Peter does as well, first, that Christ died for us and redeemed us by his blood in order to cleanse for himself a holy people (cf. Tit. 2:14; 1 Peter 1:19). In this way, however, Christ is presented us as a gift or sacrament. In the second place, Paul and Peter present us Christ as example, so that we would be imitators of good works. He redeemed us from all impiety and death, so that we then preach and glorify him by imitating good works. Thus Peter says (1 Peter 2: 21): “Christ suffered for you that you should follow in his steps.” But also Augustine mentions these two, sacrament and example.”

    Blessed Pentecost to you all.

  2. Jim Pierce
    May 19th, 2013 at 13:56 | #2

    @Nathan #49

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #50

    Nathan, I think you are drawing our attention to the regenerated will of the Christian and not necessarily at the expense of our focus on Christ. However, I am also concerned with your comments since our confession, as I quote above, is quite clear when it asserts:

    “39] And although the regenerate even in this life advance so far that they will what is good, and love it, and even do good and grow in it, nevertheless this (as above stated) is not of our will and ability, but the Holy Ghost, as Paul himself speaks concerning this, works such willing and doing, Phil. 2:13. As also in Eph. 2:10 he ascribes this work to God alone, when he says: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk therein.”

    Our confession of faith, as Chemnitz points out in his Loci Theologici, treats the regenerate as a whole man… simul iustus et peccator… and not atomistically. We have a regenerate will, but one still corrupt with sin. Hence we do as our confessions state, we ascribe the willingness and doing of good works “to God alone” whom has ordained them. Again, “For we are His workmanship.” Giving God the full credit, so to speak, for our works is not simply a matter of being “more mature in Christ,” or “truly more mature in… [our] sanctification.” The credit goes to Christ due to the reality and truth of the matter regarding the nature of good works; i.e. they come from God.

    I believe Pr. Crandall’s warnings here are on the mark. When talking about good works, we have to be careful to keep the emphasis upon Christ and what He is doing for, in, and through us. All this talk about our being “more mature,” etc. makes me uneasy, since it elevates us in a respect which we haven’t and can’t ever earn. Again, as our confession of faith points out rather bluntly concerning us:

    “You are all of no account, whether you be manifest sinners or saints [in your own opinion]; you all must become different and do otherwise than you now are and are doing [no matter what sort of people you are], whether you are as great, wise, powerful, and holy as you may. Here no one is [righteous, holy], godly, etc.

    We live a life of repentance. Repentance such that it “does not debate what is or is not sin, but hurls everything on a heap, and says: All in us is nothing but sin [affirms that, with respect to us, all is simply sin (and there is nothing in us that is not sin and guilt)]. What is the use of [For why do we wish] investigating, dividing, or distinguishing a long time? For this reason, too, this contrition is not [doubtful or] uncertain. For there is nothing left with which we can think of any good thing to pay for sin, but there is only a sure despairing concerning all that we are, think, speak, or do [all hope must be cast aside in respect of everything], etc.”

    In other words, whatever obedience we see, we do not commend ourselves, but instead we confess the truth that we have only done what we are obligated to do as servants and we, when left to ourselves, are unworthy servants. It is Christ who makes us worthy by clothing us in His righteousness. If it weren’t for Christ we wouldn’t even be the beggars we are at His table. We would still be dead in our sins, thinking that the cross is sheer foolishness!

    An excellent hymn, Pr. Crandall:

    Chief of sinners though I be,
    Jesus shed His blood for me;
    Died that I might live on high,
    Died that I might never die;
    As the branch is to the vine,
    I am His, and He is mine.
    O the height of Jesus’ love!
    Higher than the Heaven above;
    Deeper than the deepest sea,
    Lasting as eternity;
    Love that found me—wondrous thought!
    Found me when I sought Him not!

    Jesus only can impart
    Balm to heal the smitten heart;
    Peace that flows from sin forgiven,
    Joy that lifts the soul to Heaven;
    Faith and hope to walk with God
    In the way that Enoch trod.

    Chief of sinners though I be,
    Christ is all in all to me;
    All my wants to Him are known,
    All my sorrows are His own;
    Safe with Him from earthly strife,
    He sustains the hidden life.

    O my Savior, help afford
    By Thy Spirit and Thy Word!
    When my wayward heart would stray,
    Keep me in the narrow way;
    Grace in time of need supply
    While I live and when I die

  3. May 20th, 2013 at 05:07 | #3

    @BW #1
    “Giving God the full credit, so to speak, for our works is not simply a matter of being “more mature in Christ,” or “truly more mature in… [our] sanctification.” The credit goes to Christ due to the reality and truth of the matter regarding the nature of good works; i.e. they come from God.”

    (Well worth repeating)

  4. May 20th, 2013 at 07:28 | #4

    Jim Pierce,

    First of all, I appreciate that passage from our confession emphasizing how we give God all the credit for the Spirit’s work in us. When we talk synergism (in sanc., not in just.), by definition that means that God is always making the first move, providing the strength, impetus, direction, etc. The church desperately needs this word in its marriage with Christ.

    “Giving God the full credit, so to speak, for our works is not simply a matter of being “more mature in Christ,” or “truly more mature in… [our] sanctification.” The credit goes to Christ due to the reality and truth of the matter regarding the nature of good works; i.e. they come from God. ”

    (I agree Pastor Crandall!)

    Yes. But here is the point: only mature Christians deeply realize this, for they have experienced it. Should every Christian know this? Of course. But look what Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter 6:

    Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

    7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

    “I believe Pr. Crandall’s warnings here are on the mark.”

    Not insofar as he fails to recognize that the new man is not Jesus. See here: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/who-is-the-new-man/

    “All this talk about our being “more mature,” etc. makes me uneasy…”

    Then you should probably stop reading the New Testament!

    The crazy thing about this conversation from my perspective is you bring up hymns like “Chief of Sinners” and quotes from Luther about how are real problem is that we have a sin nature. Why? You don’t think I believe that? You don’t think my words are compatible with that? You don’t think I can continue to emphasize that?

    These the the questions you need to continue to ask yourselves.

    +Nathan

  5. May 20th, 2013 at 07:43 | #5

    Nathan :
    “Giving God the full credit, so to speak, for our works is not simply a matter of being “more mature in Christ,” or “truly more mature in… [our] sanctification.” The credit goes to Christ due to the reality and truth of the matter regarding the nature of good works; i.e. they come from God. ”
    (I agree Pastor Crandall!)
    Yes. But here is the point: only mature Christians deeply realize this, for they have experienced it.

    Again, your incessant focus on us and our works…

    Then you should probably stop reading the New Testament!

    Your tone isn’t as irenic as usual…

    The crazy thing about this conversation from my perspective is you bring up hymns like “Chief of Sinners” and quotes from Luther about how are real problem is that we have a sin nature. Why? You don’t think I believe that? You don’t think my words are compatible with that? You don’t think I can continue to emphasize that?
    These the the questions you need to continue to ask yourselves.

    Not very irenic at all.

    See here: http://infanttheology.wordpress.cm/201/04/24/who-is-the-new-man/

    Your incessant offer of your own literature reminds me of those pushing the Watchtower…

  6. May 20th, 2013 at 08:07 | #6

    Pastor Crandall,

    My dear brother in Christ – give me a break. : )

    Regarding the New Testament, please see here: http://biblez.com/search.php?q=mature

    Regarding the decline of my “irenicism” please note that a question mark is not ALL CAPS and that text is not always the best medium for determining *how* something is said.

    Regarding my “incessant offer of your own literature”, guilty as charged. I am thankful for Pastor Surburg speaking out about this issue (along with Jordan Cooper) in addition to my pastor and Dr. Sonntag. Whenever I can link to them talking about this stuff instead of myself (note that they don’t have their own blogs) I will try to do that. The post linked to above is basically my highlighting something Pastor Surburg says: namely, that the new man is not Jesus.

    +Nathan

  7. Diane
    May 20th, 2013 at 08:30 | #7

    @Nathan #49

    Nathan,
    You have misrepresented what I said. I wanted you to address this phrase of yours:

    ‘Those truly more mature in their sanctification..’

    The above phrase is not in Lutheran vocabulary. It sounds like Evangelical or Assembly of God phraseology. By saying that that phrase was strange to my Lutheran ears, I was NOT saying ‘if you are never hearing your pastors address the reality of Christine growth…’ Please don’t change what I said to fit your agenda.

    Thank you.
    Diane

  8. May 20th, 2013 at 08:46 | #8

    Diane,

    I certainly don’t want to misrepresent you and apologize. I can see how for some, Christian growth, and “mature in sanctification” may not be synonymous.

    That said, I heartily disagree that there is anything even remotely un-Lutheran about such a statement, and am always eager to hear what others think Christian growth looks like.

    +Nathan

  9. Jim Pierce
    May 20th, 2013 at 12:05 | #9

    @Nathan #4

    Nathan,

    I appreciate your candor, since it has reminded me that I haven’t given you as much understanding as I could. I don’t believe that you have rejected the sound teaching of original sin, or that you have made the false teaching of progressive sanctification your own. I believe you are grappling with a very real issue amongst us Lutherans, and that is, how do we properly speak about our faith in action, or our works? A side bar is how should we understand our confession when it talks about cooperation with the Holy Spirit in doing good works. Your wrestlings with these questions have not been lost on me, and I apologize for not giving you more feedback assuring you that I don’t think you have gone down the beaten, heretical, path. :)

    Briefly, and I may come back to this when I have more time, Luther points out in his Galatians commentary (1535) that the scripture you cite has more to deal with preachers that are looking after their own self-interests than anything else. In other words, Paul is giving a rebuke to these men who are seeking a public reward for their works and are openly boasting in their feats.

    Luther does go on to discuss where we can rightfully have a private boast, so to speak, and that is where we seek first the glory of God, honoring our Lord, by delivering the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ and rightfully delivering His sacraments. Our rest is in the Lord and we have the satisfaction of knowing that we have been used by Him in faithfully getting the Gospel out. Furthermore, Luther also talks about this private boasting where we do a good job in the vocations God has given us. We can have this “boast within” ourselves where we have carried out the work of our calling as commanded us by God. However, Luther is clear when he explains this and writes, “The phrase ‘in himself alone’, just to mention this in passing, must be interpreted in such a way that God is not excluded, namely, that everyone should know that his work, regardless of the station in life in which he is, is a divine work, because it is the work of a divine calling and has the command of God” (LW vol. 27. p. 120).

    Where my uneasiness has come, regarding your comments, is that your emphasis on good works has been stated in such a way as to exclude God. Recall the “not Jesus” statement above? Now, I think I understand where you are going with your postings, but the reasons for my frequent citations of our confessions is to point out the clear statements regarding the monergistic nature of good works so that there is no question about where the fountainhead of these works is located.

    I have to go and I might take more of this up later, if I have time.

    Pax

    Jim

  10. May 20th, 2013 at 17:34 | #10

    Nathan :
    My dear brother in Christ – give me a break. : )

    Aha! You can talk turkey. I thought I was about to slip into a diabetic coma, but you have refreshed me. Thank you!

    :)

    BTW, your namesake’s “sermon” to David (2 Samuel 12:7) is one of my favorites and hard to retell without too much emotion, because I know “Thou art the man!” refers more to me than thee.

  11. May 21st, 2013 at 07:18 | #11

    Thank you Diane, Jim, Pastor Crandall for the discussion. I’ve enjoyed it very much, and appreciate many of the points you make.

    I’m not totally averse to continuing, but will probably hold my tongue from this point on unless I think I must speak. And no more links to posts at my own blog dealing with this issue (though there will be more, to be sure : ) ).

    Let me leave everyone with this, so you know exactly where this sinner is coming from:

    On this side of heaven Jesus is only the friend of sinners (who commit real sins) that they might be, in his presence, saints. In other words: real sinners not just before men and oneself, but before God – who before he calls into existence the things that do not exist, also calls things as they are – as they truly exist in the empirical world – according to his holy law. While it is true that in his powerful and justifying word God defines “the fundamental reality of the believer’s existence” (K&A, 44), this does not mean that the believer is not also a sinner. As regards justification, the believer is both fully a sinner and fully a saint – even as their primary identity is saint. To use the language of the philosophers, justification has to do not with the category of essence or nature, but with the category of relation. Yes, the “sinner-saint reality” that is created out of the “original sinner reality” by the faith-creating word of God can be said to be “subjective justification” or “passive sanctification”, but when the law is accusing full force, this is not to be spoken of.

    (yes, from another post, my post critiquing Kolb and Arand’s “2KR”)

    In Christ,
    Nathan

Comment pages
1 2 3 29548
If you have problems commenting on this site, or need to change a comment after it has been posted on the site, please contact us. For help with getting your comment formatted, click here.
Subscribe to comments feed  ..  Subscribe to comments feed for this post
Anonymous comments are welcome on this board, but we do require a valid email address so the admins can verify who you are. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example. Email addresses are kept private on this site, and only available to the site admins. Comments posted without a valid email address may not be published. Want an icon to identify your comment? See this page to see how.
*

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.