Look down on or Despise: Luther on the extent of the law

1st Timothy 4:12 says, ” Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” The Greek word, kataphroneito, means to despise or look down on. both of these translations are correct, but one lends itself to a less condemning tone in Paul’s letter. If people look down on Timothy, it is because he is young and inexperienced. If they despise him, it is because he is young, yet preaches the eternal truth of God’s Law and Gospel. Sinful man, because of the fall, will always choose the lesser translation, the translation that doesn’t kill, but only cripples the sinner.

This approach to translations can be partially due to a misguided understanding of the purpose and therefore extent of the Law. In the Smalcald Articles, Luther writes, “The Foremost office or power of the law is that it reveals inherited sin and its fruits. It shows human beings into what utter depth their nature has fallen and how completely corrupt it is. The law must say to them that they neither have nor respect any god or that they worship foreign gods. This is something that they would not have believed before without the law. Thus they are terrified, humbled, despondent, and despairing. They anxiously desire help but do not know where to find it; they start to become enemies of God, to murmur, etc” (Smalcald Articles III.2.4 312 Kolb-Wengert). In addition to this, we have the Catechism Hymn, LSB 581 These Are the Holy Ten Commands, that says in verses 11-12, “You have this Law to see therein that you have not been free from sin, but also that you clerarly see how pure toward God life should be. Have Mercy Lord. Our works cannot salvation gain; they merit only endless pain. Forgive us , Lord! To Christ we flee, who pleads for us endlessly. Have Mercy Lord!”  The law kills all pious disillusionment of fallen man.  The law leaves no survivors, only dead sinners in need of the reviving breath of life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The law is not to be tamed or defanged, but proclaimed in its fullness in order that it may do its work of preparing the sinner to receive the Gospel. After this is done, the law is also used, “when those who have been born anew through God’s Spirit, converted to the Lord, and had the veil of Moses removed for them live and walk in the law” (Formula of Concord Solid Declaration VI.1 Kolb-Wengert 587). Beautifully asserted in sung confession, we Lutherans proclaim, “it was a false, misleading dream, that God His Law had given. That sinners could themselves redeem and by their works gain heaven. The Law is but a  mirror bright, to bring the inbred sin to light that lurks within our nature” (LSB 555 Salvation Unto Us Has Come vs. 3).

When the Law is not preached to leave the sinner hopeless, then the Gospel loses its usefulness. If the sinner survives the law’s proclamation he believes he can limp his way up the ladder into heaven. If the law doesn’t kill, the sinner begins to use the law to his own advantage, driven not by piety but rather by lust. Man cannot fulfill the law because his heart is never pure outside of faith, outside of Christ. In his preface to the book of Romans, Luther asserted the doctrine of the law saying, “But God judges according to what is in the depths of the heart. For this reason, his law too makes its demands on the inmost heart; it cannot be satisfied with works, but rather punishes as hypocrisy and lies the works not done from the bottom of the heart” (Luther’s Works 25.366). From where does this pure heart come? Luther answers, “Such a heart is given only by God’s Spirit, who fashions a man after the law, so that he acquires a desire for the law in his heart, doing nothing henceforth out of fear and compulsion but our of a willing heart” (Luther’s Works 35.367). Luther concluded his section on the law in the book of Romans saying, “For the more the law forbids, the more our evil nature hates the law, and the more it wants to give reign to its own lust. Thus the law makes Christ all the more necessary, and more grace is needed to help our nature” (Luther’s Works 35.375).

If we don’t understand the depravity of our sinful condition, we don’t receive the law for in its proper uses. If we don’t receive the law for its proper uses, we don’t understand how much we either contribute or receive in relation to our salvation.  As the Apology to the Augsburg Confession declares, “What becomes of original sin if human nature itself has the power to love God above all things, as the scholastic confidently affirm? What need will there be for the grace of Christ if we can become righteous by our own righteousness? What need will there be for the Holy Spirit if by our human power alone we can love God above all things and keep God’s commandments” (Apology Augsburg Confession II.10 Kolb-Wengert 114).

What does this all have to to with translations. If we don’t receive the full wrath of the law and the full promise of the Gospel, we find translations of the bible that fit our lustful piety. We don’t want to be condemned when we read the bible. We want to pick it up, put it down, and continue on with life as if the Sacred Scriptures were never opened. We don’t want to open up the bible and translate words that will condemn our false piety and idolatrous worship. We want the bible under our big toe. Let us properly distinguish the command of the law and the promise of the Gospel when we read our Bibles, it just may save us.

About Pastor Chris Hull

Chris Hull is the Senior Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tomball,Texas. He was married to Allison Desiree Monk on June 3rd, 2006. They have been blessed with four boys, Lochlann Richard Patrick, Eamonn Julius Luther, Tiernann Thomas Walther, and Jamesonn Frederick Flacius. Pastor Hull graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Il in 2006. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2010. He is currently in the STM program at CTSFW.


Look down on or Despise: Luther on the extent of the law — 166 Comments

  1. @Rev. McCall #49

    There I think is the key: intentional and persistent sin.

    Ok. Let’s go with that. You quoted from FC V in support of that view. I like it when we quote the Confessions to resolve stuff like this.


    [The word] Sin in the Scriptures means not only external works of the body but also all those movements within us which bestir themselves and move us to do the external works, namely, the depth of the heart with all its powers.
    Therefore the word
    do should refer to a person’s completely falling into sin. No external work of sin happens, after all, unless a person commit himself to it completely, body and soul.
    In particular, the Scriptures see into the heart, to the root and main source of all sin: unbelief in the depth of the heart.
    Thus, even as faith alone makes just and brings the Spirit and the desire to do good external works, so it is only unbelief which sins and exalts the flesh and brings desire to do evil external works.
    That’s what happened to Adam and Eve in Paradise (cf. Genesis 3). http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html


    The Fifth Petition.
    85] And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
    86] [In]…our poor miserable life,…we have and believe the Word…, and do and submit to His will, and are supported by His gifts and blessings, yet… nevertheless not without sin. … we still stumble persistently and transgress because we live …among men who do us much harm and give us cause for impatience, anger, revenge, etc. 87] …we have Satan at our back…so that it is not possible always to stand firm in such a persistent conflict.
    89] [In our]… flesh… [we]… persistently … [neither]…trust nor believe God, …[we are]… persistently active in evil lusts and devices, so that we sin persistently in word and deed, by commission and omission, by which the conscience is [persistently] thrown into unrest, so that it is [persistently] afraid of the wrath and displeasure of God, and thus [persistently] loses the comfort and confidence derived from the Gospel; therefore it is persistently necessary that we run hither and obtain consolation to comfort the conscience again.
    90] But this should serve God’s purpose of breaking our pride and keeping us humble. [If] …any one should boast of his godliness and despise others, … that the person is to [persistently] look at his own sin… and [persistently] place this prayer before his eyes, and…in the presence of God …be glad that they can attain forgiveness. 91] And let no one think that as long as we live here he can reach such a position that he will not [persistently] need such forgiveness.
    In short, if God does not forgive [persistently, precisely because of our persistent sinning, then] we are lost.
    92] It is therefore the intent of this petition that God would not regard our sins and hold up to us what we persistently deserve, but would deal … with us, and forgive, [instead, according to his Promise], and thus grant us a … confident conscience to stand before Him in prayer. For where the heart …can[not] [persistently] take such confidence, it will nevermore venture to pray. ..such a confident and joyful heart can only spring from the certain knowledge of the forgiveness of sin.
    97] …when we pray, we remember the promise …I come and pray…to forgive me, …but because Thou hast promised … Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, appointed as external signs…can effect to confirm our consciences and cause them to rejoice.

    And then you urged this excellent quote from our Formula upon me:

    a person should not concoct a kind of faith that can exist and remain with and alongside an evil intention to sin and act against the conscience. … faith and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are … lost through intentional sin, … the saints and elect [do not] …retain the Holy Spirit … when they persist in … adultery and other sins. http://bookofconcord.org/sd-goodworks.php

    This is most certainly true.
    Our Confessions also willfully and intentionally and persistently sin daily. That too is a fact.

    Here is the deal: to any reasonable person, this passage from the Formula would seem to tell us that we need to succeed in not persistently and intentionally sin. That is the task that is outlined and set before us in this text from the Formula according to our very best thinking. And our impulse is to think our way out of this.

    This is the advice of Aristotle in fact.

    May I suggest that our Confessions declare that this is exactly the right advice as to how we are able to stop our willfull and persistent thoughts, words and deeds? The Confessions inform us that we are to avoid persistent and intentional sinning, in our outward thoughts, words, and deeds, with philosophical means.
    The Confessions declare that we are supposed to use our ruled reason by doing what a virtuous person would do, which is to control an unruly heart. The emotions of our unruly heart craves the things that our natural appetites crave.

    Our Confessions in Apology III, and XXVIII says that we can do this! It even says that no Holy Spirit is necessary for that.

    They say this: “Concerning morality, nothing can be demanded beyond the Ethics of Aristotle.” (Ap III)
    What part of “nothing” is there to understand in that statement?

    Futher, the Confessions tell us that this philosophical righteousness is a)necessary, b) God will punish us if we refuse to do this willingly, and c) God will reward us with earthly and even heavenly crowns if we do it.

    The problem: Our heart persistently and intentionally wants what it wants.
    Therefore: Even if reason can get a grip and outwardly control all this, those two words “persistent” and ‘intentional” STILL apply to us. And as christians, we need to know this.

    Even IF we don’t persistently and intentionally DO bad stuff, it is STILL true that, in our hearts, we persistently and intentionally WANT to do all those things and more. What is the proof that our conscience uses to convict us in that internal courtroom in our head?

    We have to WORK at persistently and intentially doing ….. good.

    That is the nagging proof that messes with us. This nagging fear will simply not go away.

    If we really, in our hearts, WANTED what God wants, it would be no effort at all to do good. We would do good uncontrolably and as a nervous first nature impulse. Second nature? Not. Good.Enough. Persistently and intentially doing good should look like what the Formula of Concord describes: “like light from sun, automatically, spontaneously, and as the angels do God’s Will.”

    If we are honest we are despairing Judas. This is what we SHOULD do IF we accept the judgement of God. And if we don’t want to accept that judgement, then what do we do? But there is an alternative to that! Reason reaches for that.

    We Become antinomian! We go and find some cosmic earplugs and do fast women (or men!), drugs and rock and roll. That can’t last for long. Why not? Put hand in fire. Fire will burn. Buddhists call that Karma. Christians call that the Law. The Law simply will not go away. See the experience of the Antinomian Judge nagged by a conscience widowed to love. Luke 18.

    Life looks like that. We don’t do the Law. The Law does us into doing what it wants until it literally kills us doing what the Law does. And that is precisely what the life of a Pharisee consists of!

    And why is it then that most folks (besides Edmund Munsch and Nietzche and Kierkegaard and suicides) end up looking, especially as they get old and tired, more like mormons or rotary club members?

    God mercifully provides a veil of Moses over the Law that makes us think that the Law can be kept like civil law. Veiled Reason thinks that it can satisfy the conscience by keeping the law like it would keep civil law, and it doesnt really matter so much what our motives are or whether our heart is in it or not. And this is really true. And so that strategy of coexistence with a nagging conscience sorta works. For a while.

    So the other alternative to being terrified, and putting a rope around our neck or a gun in our mouth is to get busy and focus on controlling what we can do.

    We put our conscience to rest this way: we argue with God , as would any attorney worth his salt, this way: “It is patently unreasonable that God would demand that we stop persistently and intentionally sinning in our heart. Why? A command, to any reasonable person, implies that that command can be done. Otherwise, what would be the point? God is reasonable! So since demanding that we do everything good out of pure spontaneous volition of the heart is quite impossible, I will unilaterally declare that you can’t really mean that.

    Therefore I will declare that I am doing what God wants by controlling my persistent and intentional DOing.” Done!

    So the (merciful!) result of that “opinio legis” or “Attorney’s Way of Thinking”, is that we don’t all end up with a gun in our mouth or a rope around our neck. Instead God directs us to become productively busy at being good Pharisees. At least that way we are useful to others, and the streets are not littered with our useless carcasses.

    God is preserving mankind for something. That something is for Christ to come along and take the Law into his own hands.

    Until that illusion of control, which is that doing the Law is under our control and depends upon us, is ripped away from us. being diagnosed with an incurrable illness, or your kid announcing that he is a transgender or other out of control …. um…. stuff, or this happens:

    God sends you a preacher

  2. Warren, this is for you.

    With regard to this I always say that faith must have absolutely nothing but the Word on its side and must permit no subtle argumentation or human ideas in addition. Otherwise it is impossible for faith to be retained and preserved. For human wisdom and reason cannot progress beyond judging and concluding in accordance with what it sees and feels or with what it comprehends with the senses. But faith must transcend such feeling and understanding or make its decision contrary to these and cling to whatever the Word submits. Reason and human competence do not enable faith to do that, but this is the work of the Holy Spirit on the heart of man. Otherwise, if man could comprehend this with his reason, or if he were to resolve this in accordance with what is and what is not consonant with his reason, he would not need faith or the Holy Spirit.

    Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 15:1–2 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

  3. “Here is the deal: to any reasonable person, this passage from the Formula would seem to tell us that we need to succeed in not persistently and intentionally sin.”

    But they do not say that and where the Confessions are deliberately silent there is usually a good reason for it. The purpose of such statements in the confessions is to rightly stop the abuse of the Gospel. Look at the antithesis of what these FC V statements are reacting against: Those who say that a person can persist in intentional sin and not fall from grace. Those who wish to concoct a kind of “faith” that allows them to keep on deliberately sinning even when they know it is wrong.

    I would argue that the demands of the Confessions and the Scriptures are once again to never stop struggling with sin. We are to continue in a life of repentance and forgiveness. Not that we are somehow supposed to be perfect or cease all sin in this life, for that is impossible. Yet Paul, Peter, and Jesus (and on and on) all urge us to never give up this struggle. To keep drowning that old Adam. To keep striving to live as Christ urges us to live. (FC VI) Not because those actions somehow achieve our salvation or secure us in God’s favor.
    That kind of life first and foremost involves a life of repentance. What I believe the Confessions mean in FC V is not that the opposite of intentional and persistent sin is the false Pharisee security or some achievable perfection, but the opposite of intentional and persistent sinning is intentional and persistent repentance/forgiveness! (“A Brief Exhortation to Confession” in the Large Catechism touches on this) The first thing the H.S. does is drives us to repentance. When we reject that call to repent, that is when we have begun to intentionally and persistently sin in the manner so described in FC V. So if one refuses to repent or if one chooses to instead concoct their own “faith” that allows them to have no need to repent of certain sins, beware! This is the kind of thinking that easily leads one to fall away.

    And yes, you are right. The answer to the Law always and only must be the Gospel. To comfort one terrified by the Law with simply more Law would drive the despairing Judas to suicide.

  4. @Rev. McCall #3

    Pastor McCall,

    I have given some thought to our discussion here. That is why I have not responded sooner. Let me suggest that our Formula deals with what we are really discussing at the very start. May I suggest that we are supposed to read the first two articles as a couplet in this fashion:

    Art I describes the Believer according to his Old Adam. This is done in preparation for Art II.
    Art II says then what the Believer is able to do according to his free will.

    One thing only.

    Show up in Church.
    Not despise the preached Word and Sacrament.
    Fake Christians can do this also. That’s a good thing! Why?
    It is the only way to turn a fake christian into a true believer.
    So a pastor’s advice to anyone, gays, adulterers, pagans, especially the Baptized is this:
    Come to church! Don’t stop doing that!

    Therefore in Art II, Andreae and Chemnitz and Selnecker define abuse of Gospel liberty as What then?
    Thinking that one can remain with Life apart from attending church!

    They don’t go into that legalist vs licentous thangy. And why don’t they?
    Because that distinction has NOTHING at all to do with christianity.
    This distinction, which is perfectly fine, is all the philosophical righteousness of Aristotle , which God does indeed demand and says is necessary, but yet pertains to this life only and will perish with it.

    All the talk about legalism vs license is really to teach Aristotle and the Golden Mean.
    Fake Christians can also do that exercise that is about moderation.
    And trust in that exercise for Life.
    Yet it is stiil true that God himself demands this exercise and has Divinely Written that very demand in the Reason of ALL men (Rom 2:15 and Apology IV).

    This talk of legalism vs libertine really assumes that Aristotle is incapable of morality until the preacher comes in order to bring….Moses.

    So, in this (false) view, the preacher is to come to declare what the Bible has to say about the Law in a way that can be done. It is not to come with the Law as Christ himself takes up the Law. The aim of Christ is to use the Law to de-moral-ize man until he becomes despairing Judas.

    Such Lutheran teachers of Aristotle readily agree with this, at least until and up until conversion!
    After that, there is some fake Calvinistic Third Use that does not terrify and kill.
    This is Law in the “indicative” rather than the “imperative”. And this distinction is bulls**t.
    The Law always and only accuses and kills.
    What the Law shows us then, about ourselves, should always and only terrify us.
    Believers now love the Law rather than fear it. True!
    But what the Law reveals is another matter!
    This is especially true after conversion!

    This error is precisely why talk about believers STILL needed to have their consciences terrified does not sit comfortably with such false and unLutheran theology.
    This is why such a Lutheran with these false views will anxiously and uncomfortably and immediately need to pivot from the Apology talking about christians being terrified by what the Law shows them, to some passage talking about Sanctified Victory over Sin.

    Here is an example of such a pivot:
    Apology: Saving faith is grown and strengthened only along with a terrified conscience:

    Discomfort at this as the picture of Life in Christ, and…
    a pivot to he picture of Victory in Sanctification over Sin:

    So, in this false view, Lutheran pastors are to become a new Moses.
    There is nothing christian about such preachment.
    It is an exhortation to the morality that reason can do with no need for the HS or Christ.

    The real distinction is between despair and pharisee.
    These are the only two choices the Law presents.
    Until Christ.
    This distinction is terrify and treat the conscience.

    And so the Apology says this, and the F of C merely repeats the picture of the Christian Life as faith in the midst of a terrified conscience. This is to describe repentance and therefore baptism as describing the christian life:

    “the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, i.e., it is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels the wrath of God against our sins,and seeks the remission of sins, and to be freed from sin. And in such terrors and other afflictions this faith ought to grow and be strengthened. ”

    Wherefore, [such faith] it cannot exist in those who live according to the flesh who are delighted by their own lusts and obey them. (ibid)

    [Only a true believer can know and experience] how the remission of sins occurs, and how, in the judgment of God and terrors of conscience, trust in works is driven out of us.

  5. @Mark Huntemann #4

    I read the article. The author is a Roman Catholic. I am Lutheran. So I disagree with the author precisely where she denies Lutheran doctrine:

    “I said ordered toward. When a man and woman have sex they’re engaging in that sacred act that creates human life, even if none will be created in that particular act. It’s still sacred.”

    This is to confuse Law and Gospel. Catholics say that Marriage/Sex are about the Divine Design Reason can find in Thomist Natural Law that is about a human Telos that defines the return to Eden as a reconformity to the Divine Law.
    Lutheran Confessions: The eternal consequence and Telos of Marriage and Sex is eternal death and damnation.

    And the reason that natural family planning doesn’t lead to the same kind ofcultural insanity as artificial contraception is because… [Roman Catholicism is] a sacrifice-based system.”….


    All sexual activity must be ordered toward new human life…

    Lutherans deny the very premise for this assertion, a fundamental part of their faith. So what follows is a logical construct that deviates from Sola Scriptura (cf Large Catechism 6th commandment for the Lutheran contrary position on all this Thomist sacramentalizing):

    you are constantly having to make sacrifices … that come with birth and raising children; if you’re abstaining during fertile times, you’re sacrificing. Infertile couples sacrifice by not using artificial methods… Gay men and women sacrifice by living chaste lives… Notice that we’re all sacrificing, and that all of the sacrifices are about the same thing: love and respect for new human life, You’d be surprised at how much everyone sacrifices — not just people with same-sex attraction.”

    And then to the heart of the matter:

    Do you think that I would have gotten myself into a belief system that involves sacrifices if there weren’t a huge payoff?

    ”When you get your sexuality in line with respect for human life, you get your soul in line with God, who is the Source of human life. And there is more joy there than you could imagine.”

    So this is theRoman Catholic path to Original Adamic Innocence and the Image of God: Reconformity to the Law. This is to reconform to the Mind of God found in the Decalog and the Divine Design Reason can see in Thomist Natural Law.

    Lutheran Confessions: Baptismal regeneration is the restoration of the Image of God and the restoration of Original Sinlessness and Innocence. This restoration consists of the restoration of Faith Alone in Christ Alone.

    We Lutherans tell homos to get Baptized or return to their Baptism and trust in Christ to get right with God. Roman Catholics? A different path….

    Our society has forgotten entirely that it is perfectly possible not to have sex. Not only possible, but can even be a great thing.

    This is what the Thomists claimed in denying the truth of the Augsburg Confession in Article XXIII. This is what that article says:

    For it is manifest, and many have confessed that no good, honest, chaste life, no Christian, sincere, upright conduct has resulted (from the attempt at chastity through enforced celebacy rather than marriage), but a horrible, fearful unrest and torment of conscience has been felt by many until the end.


    So the author continues…

    ”I have converted to the religion of the crucifix,… a belief system that promises joy in exchange for losing it all.
    Most people don’t want to sign up for that. I get that. I hope they consider it, for their own sake, since their lives would be better if they did

    So christianity and the Crucifix are about “getting one’s soul in line with God”. How? By faith , ALONE, in Christ, ALONE? No. By enabling grace. This is where the Holy Spirit enables one to make sacrifice. This is the “exchange” one signs up for.

    No. This is wrong. To follow what the Roman Catholic author of this article says is to deny the very heart and core of Lutheran Theology.

    This is an excellent article therefore. Why? It honestly illustrates the problem with using Thomist Natural Law to answer the objections of those who want mercy for Homosexuals.

    There is a better way that does not compromise the Holy Gospel. That way is found in the Lutheran Confessions. The Apology to the Augsburg Confession is precisely an answer to Thomist Natural Law advocates who attached the Augsburg Confessions precisely where it deviates from Thomist Natural Law and it’s theological basis.

  6. @Mark Huntemann #4

    The Roman Catholic article reveals a fundamental Roman Catholic error as to what constitutes both earthly and christian righeousness.

    Lutheranism (small catechism):

    Earthly Righteousness has two components always:

    a)Mortification/Sacrifice/Aristotelian Self-virtues:
    “we should…not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body”.
    b) love/mercy/goodness:
    “we should help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need”.

    True earthly morality is what St James says it is.
    1) It is between us and neighbor. It is not about us/faith/God.
    2) There must be tangible evidence of b) for any good work to qualify as that rightousness that God wills here on earth. if there is only a) that is being asserted to be Godly righeousness, then that is a most certain sign that spiritual idolatry and “self chosen worship” is being done.

    This article says that the sacrifice of a) is precisely the vehicle one is to use to “align one’s soul with God”! This is to turn the sacrifice of sexual self control into a means of salvation. No Christ or Holy Spirit is necessary for this. Fake Christians can do this.

  7. Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

    The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
    “This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
    she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”
    Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

    Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
    And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    And he who was seated on the throne said,

    “Behold, I am making all things new.”

    Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me,

    “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”


  8. @Mark Huntemann #8

    To merely quote Holy Scriptures without comment is to wierdly assume that the difference with whom one disagrees with is that they a) deny Scripture or b) can’t read.

    It is this difference that allows to Lutherans something called the Lutheran Confessions and the Creeds.

    We Lutherans recognize that all have the same Bible. And can read it.

    So we confess what the difference is, and identify it, rather than just think quoting naked Scripture, wierdly, is some sort of meaningful response to distinguish truth from error.

    Quoting Scripture to make a point is what JWs and Mormons and Rome and the Enthusiasts do. And they think they confirm their error over against our teaching exactly with this method!

    Quoting Scripture to make a point is not wrong is it? It is in fact, the correct thing to do. But yet there is something missing in doing only that. What is that thing that is missing Mark? Less intelligence? no. Less reading comprehension skill? no. St Thomas was worth 10 luthers and augustines and calvins in brain power. He was still wrong in many things.

    So what is that thing that is missing in those who quote Scriptures to us Lutherans and accuse us of leaning too heavily into our Confessions to the neglect of Scripture?

  9. @Mark Huntemann #10

    Yes. The Mormons and JWs and every errorist I know say the same thing, seemingly, in the same way you intend to prove something, by what you are quoting.

    To quote anyone is not to prove or assert that you understand the meaning of what you are quoting.

  10. fws :
    @Mark Huntemann #10
    Yes. The Mormons and JWs and every errorist I know say the same thing, seemingly, in the same way you intend to prove something, by what you are quoting.
    To quote anyone is not to prove or assert that you understand the meaning of what you are quoting.

    Yes so very true


  11. @fws #5
    I will admit I am overwhelmed by your response. I am not sure where and/or if we disagree and where that/those point(s) of disagreement are to be found.

    I would ask “why” one is to come to church. The answer is, because that is where Christ crucified and risen for you is preached. That is where Christ is present in the Word and in the Sacraments given for you for the forgiveness of sins! To tell one to return to their baptism or repent is to do nothing else than to point them to Christ! Its purpose is to provide comfort for the terrified conscience! We can always turn these things into the Law, which is what I think you may be unfairly assuming I am trying to do. Yet even your example of “Go to church” can be seen as a Law that any good Pharisee can observe and soothe his conscience with based on his obedience/attendence. or we can look at these things (church, baptism, Lords Supper) as directing people to Christ. (Which is what I intended and perhaps did not make clear) So what is the sinners response? The Holy Spirit works repentance and that person runs to church! Runs to the altar! To gladly hear, taste, see and be washed over with the forgiveness of sins Christ so freely offers!

    The Law must do its work. It must terrify. and then…
    “Upon this your confession, I by by virtue of my Office as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I forgive you of all of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”


    “Take and eat/drink. The true body and blood of Jesus Christ, shed for you, for the forgiveness of all of your sins.”

  12. @Rev. McCall #14

    Amen pastor McCall. i got goosebumps reading that. Now THAT was Evangelical preaching.
    You are right. Running to church is something even a fake christian can do and a terrified one can avoid if he isnt hearing Christ’s “for YOU!” And it is this Old Adam exercise of free will that art II says is alone our contribution to our sanctification. And this is , precisely, what the Confessions identify as “license”. This is, according to FC art II to think that faith can live cut off from going to Church.

    In Dr Luther’s ” Christian Questions” we read that we are to learn, in the Blessed Sacrament to be terrified of our sins. And in FC art V we are told that Christ Crucified is the most horrible and terrifying preachment of th Law. What makes those words Gospel? it is , alone, the Holy Spirit reachng in and making a new heArt with new emotions of tru fear love and trust… Faith! That turns that Law into Gospel when hearts hear it now as “given and shed …For YOU!”

    Muslims and pagans and fake chirstians can know that there is a God, that he is good that he is merciful, that he forgives, thathe is good. A fake christian can even know all the right Lutheran doctrines and separate them from error.

    But only a true believer can know , in the midst of a terrified conscience, not terrfied of the Law, but of what the Law shows him in all he can see and is able to do, can know, with dead certainty, that what Christ did was “for ME!”.

    Ok. So a calvi nist doesnt recognize the sin of his dangerous and soul destroying theology. A gay man cant see how loving someone in a monogamous relationship is harmful, someoNe here cant see that being righteously right can be sinfully wrong.

    What is a pastor to do? Give out certainty recklessly. And say: come to church. God will sort out the wheat and chaff that is inside of you and inside of me. Gods Word is the ONLY thing that can do this. And he promises to do that in sinful men like you pastor McCall. Trust that! This does not depend upon your getting Law and Gospel right. It does depend , alone upon your own hearing of that Gospel, for you! And to speak that same Gospel to all who are caught in the net. What gets caught i the net is to be left to God. You job is to help the fish realize they are quite dead. And to speak Life into them with merely a Word.

  13. @Rev. McCall #14

    “runs to the altar!”


    Running to cling , for dear life, to the mercy seat! That is all we can do. We must not neglect the preaching of the Word. To unplug from that is like unplugging an appliance. And i dont mean a notebook with a battery pack.

    To do that is death.

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