Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — Responding to Evangelical Proof Texts

Responding to Evangelical Proof Texts

Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller discusses the Evangelical use of Revelation 3:20 to derive decision theology.

[podcast]http://wittenbergmedia.org/audio/REPT_Revelation.3.20.mp3[/podcast]
Original Air Date: November 19, 2007


Comments

Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — Responding to Evangelical Proof Texts — 11 Comments

  1. Yes, this is certainly a misinterpreted verse, It is directed toward a church going astray, not to unbelievers.

    Nonetheless, even taken out of context, it does start out with Jesus knocking on one’s door, rather than someone knocking on His door. Truly, no one seeks for God; God is the one Who seeks sinners to save. And as the Gospel is heard by many unbelievers, only the elect will “hear their Shepherd’s voice”, or the knocking, and open the door. And since grace may be resisted, even some of those who hear Him will refuse Him entry. So from that point of view it can be made to fit Lutheran soteriology. But its most proper Lutheran use we be for those who are taking their faith in Christ for granted, getting lazy and sliding into antinomianism or avoiding the preached Word and Sacrament of Divine Service.

    The problem is, it makes for a very good Arminian parable, allowing Jesus to initiate the call with “prevenient grace”, leaving the sinner to choose Him or refuse Him. But I was looking at it from a Lutheran perspective. And yes, although we could never choose Him, I’ve known plenty of baptized Lutherans in my time, who ended up refusing Him.

    How anyone can read the first three chapters of Ephesians and not believe that faith in Christ can only come totally externally and passively by God’s power alone? I used to be Arminian in my pre-Lutheran days. Reading Ephesians straightened me out!

  2. “And as the Gospel is heard by many unbelievers, only the elect will “hear their Shepherd’s voice”, or the knocking, and open the door.”

    is this how it works? not being snotty.

  3. All rather confusing!

    I have posted on Lutherquest about Wolfmuellers comments on the Issues etc show about Lutheran essentials

    On Issues etc he is doing a talk about the essential element of Lutheranism.
    He relates about evangelical sermons where the preacher finishes off by saying “If you feel or hear the Spirit telling you that you are a sinner then come forward.”
    But, asks the Wolf, what if the person, having heard the word preached is convinced they are a sinner but does not feel anything, then what? You see, you can not go by feelings”

    Fair enough. But that person, who is convinced by the preaching of the word, that they are a sinner may not feel anything at all but then, if that was in a Lutheran Church, what do they do with that conviction?

    If the evangelical guy added “If you are convinced by what you heard in the preaching of the Word, that you are a sinner, then come forward for prayer” – would that be acceptable?

  4. Stef,
    I’m not sure what you mean by “if that was in a Lutheran Church, what do they do with that conviction?” In a proper sermon, the hearers would not be left in their sin. The proclamation of their sin would be followed by the proclamation of the solution to that sin that being Christ crucified. It is the Gospel proclamation that is primary. Your salvation is not contingent on whether you “come forward”.

  5. @Brian Yamabe #4

    Hold on there, do not try and side track the conversation – I never said his salvation is dependant on his coming forward!

    But then that person, who is convinced by the preaching of the word, and hears that Christ died for our sins – so what?
    He says “Okay, I am a sinner and Jesus died for my sins that I have committed and breaking Gods Law (and for my sinful nature, which I have not yet heard preached) so now I am forgiven. Great, now I can go home and carry on with my life.”

    So the question is: How do you guys track or follow up that person to get them in catechism etc. to follow up on their salvation, in other words, to make disciples of them and to teach them…..? or do you just leave this in Gods hands to follow up on?

  6. @Stef #6
    Sorry, I was just going by your words (“…they are a sinner but does not feel anything, then what?” “…what do they do with that conviction?”). It didn’t sound like you were asking how a congregation follows up. A question to you: are you saying that the offer to “come forward” is just a bookkeeping tool to keep track of people?

    We believe in the efficacy of God’s Word. We would hope that the Gospel moves the person to return to the Divine Service to continue to receive the gifts of God, but how exactly that Word affects people is up to God. Of course, we also invite people to speak to the pastor or elders and have cards and such to leave their information if they would like to be contacted. We trust that the Good Shepherd knows and gathers His flock.

  7. 🙂 The question – no, it is more than a book keeping thing. It is a time of prayer with the person who is under conviction, show them the Scriptures, explain salvation and set up follow up meetings and so on. (I am generalising of course and know that some go overboard, but I am assuming we are not going to go off into the looney toons side of things)

    So you do leave it all up to God then – ok, no one better qualified to do the follow up of what He has started!

    struggling with old paradigms!

  8. We trust that the Good Shepherd knows and gathers His flock.

    Should the under shepherd not also be doing that?

    My question I posed on LQ:
    But, in fear of being called ‘revivalists’, does the Lutheran pastor, at the end of a service, steer well clear of saying “If you are convicted of your sin please come talk to me or see the deacon/elder”?
    And by so doing, is that pastor not missing something that, to me, seems like a very important role for a pastor to fulfil?

  9. @Stef #9
    The Pastor is called to proclaim the Gospel and administer the Sacraments. God gather His people around them. Yes, the pastor can and should call on people, but that’s not what is going to keep them in the faith.

    “If you are convicted of you sin please come talk to me or see the deacon/elder” What if you are convicted but don’t see anyone? What is the role the pastor is fulfilling by having someone see him?

    I’m sorry, I’m having difficulty because I feel like there is some basic understanding that I’m missing

    I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith;.

  10. @Brian Yamabe #10

    “Yes, the pastor can and should call on people, (Ok, that is what I am talking of. It would appear that we agree) but that’s not what is going to keep them in the faith.”( this is a side issue and off topic)

    “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith;.”
    No argument there, but by the preaching of the Law and Gospel the person has come under the conviction of sin, righteousness and coming judgement, we have established that and that it is not the persons own doing.
    As an under shepherd is it not a responsibility to enquire if there be such persons in the congregation who, under conviction (how they are supposed to know that I am not sure), would want to discuss further – then the question is asked and the offer made to them that they may converse with a pastor/elder/deacon after the meeting. In other words, an ‘altar call’ is made?

    I think at the end of the day what bothers me is that I perceive that an offer is being made, via the preaching of Law and Gospel, but then there is no follow through right there and then to rescue the lost sheep.
    In reaction to the revivalists, the pendulum has been swung to the totally opposite side where any hint of calling out for a lost sheep is forbidden but also mocked.
    Is this not wrong? The pastor stands there as Christ’s representative but then turns from what may be the most important part of being that representative and refuses to actually call after the lost sheep, to go in search of the lost sheep, but now hands that task back to the Good Shepherd – “I stood in the paddock and proclaimed how good the food and drink is in here, it is not my responsibility to actually go out and find that sheep that is lost and bring it back to the pasture!”

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