Walther’s teaching on objective/subjective justification

C._F._W._Walther_01It has been suggested out in the blogosphere that my way of explaining objective justification – as set forth recently on this blog – is a misrepresentation of the real theological issue at hand within the synods of the Synodical Conference tradition, since C. F. W. Walther’s way of explaining objective justification was supposedly different and more obviously erroneous than my more sugar-coated way of explaining it. It has been claimed that I am misrepresenting the true character of the false Waltherian doctrine of objective justification, by making it seem to be not as bad as it really is.

Within the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (to which I belong), Walther’s well-known Easter sermon, “Christ’s Resurrection – the World’s Absolution,” has always been looked upon as a good summary of the proper understanding of the concept of objective/subjective justification (even though that terminology does not appear in the sermon). This sermon was translated into English and published by the ELS in 1978, as part of a collection of Walther’s sermons entitled The Word of His Grace. The excerpts from this sermon that here follow demonstrate that Walther’s way of explaining these matters follows the same basic pattern as I have followed in explaining them.

In each case, the objective aspect of justification is tied very tightly to the death and resurrection of Christ. In each case, it is emphasized that justification and absolution are not received and possessed by individuals apart from faith, or before faith. This is, of course, also the focus of Johann Gerhard’s teaching, which I cite, and which was no doubt influential on Walther’s own formulations. I will add that the late Kurt Marquart in the LCMS likewise explained objective/subjective justification in this way. And I have already noted that this is the balanced and careful approach of Jon Buchholz in the WELS as well.

The objective aspect of justification – that is, the resurrection “absolution” of Christ, in the stead and on behalf of all humanity – is explained by Walther in these words:

[Christ’s] anguish of soul when He struggled hard with the death in Gethsemane, His shameful arrest and bonds, His scourging, the mockery, the spittle, the crowning with thorns, His crucifixion and the shedding of His blood – all of this was nothing else than the punishment which God the Father meted out to Him on account of the sins of the entire world. These had been imputed to Him, and these Christ now bore. Therefore also the condemnation of Christ by Caiaphas and Pilate was at the same time His condemnation to death by God the Father, as the wages appointed for the ancient sin in paradise. And the death that Jesus endured following the sentence was nothing else than the carrying out of the divine judgment which required this final and most terrible punishment. … Since now…God the Father, the Judge Himself who had condemned Christ to death, raised Him again from the dead, what meaning must His resurrection therefore have? What does it mean when in a process of law the imprisoned guarantor is finally set free by the judge himself? It means that the account is settled. Christ’s resurrection, therefore, was nothing else than the actual testimony which God the Father gave before heaven and earth, before angels and men, that all the demands of the eternal divine righteousness had now been fully met by Him. It means that the debt which Christ had pledged to pay had now actually been paid by Him to the last farthing, and that the punishment which God had put upon the sins of men had now been thoroughly removed by Christ to the very last stripe. It means that Christ is now free and forever declared loosed from all the debt and punishment which He had assumed. In one word, it means that He is absolved.

Since it was all mankind in whose place and for whom Christ suffered, died and made payment, who was it, then, that was absolved in and through Christ’s Person when the eternal Judge set Him at liberty? It was – oh, marvelous and endlessly comforting truth! – it was all mankind. Just as all Israel had triumphed when David returned victorious from the duel with the giant, against whom he had fought for all Israel, so the entire human race was victorious when Christ triumphed in the battle against sin, death, and hell. Just as the receipt, obtained by one who makes payment for another, frees and looses the debtor, so the receipt which God presented to Christ in His resurrection frees and looses all mankind from its debt of sin. That we are not making a mistake when we draw this conclusion is evident from the fact that God’s very Word draws this conclusion. In the 5th chapter of his Second Epistle to the Corinthians Paul writes: “We thus judge that if One died for all, then were all dead.” And in the 5th chapter of his letter to the Romans the same apostle adds: “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Here we see that just as Christ’s condemnation was the condemnation of all men, Christ’s death and imprisonment the death and imprisonment of all men, Christ’s payment the payment of all men, so also Christ’s life is the life of all men. Christ’s acquittal the acquittal of all men, Christ’s justification the justification of all men, Christ’s absolution the absolution of all men. …

For it is solely the resurrection of Christ from the dead that first of all makes the Gospel that which it is, namely true tidings of joy… It is solely the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that makes Baptism and the Lord’s Supper the Means of Grace that they really are, namely, heavenly vessels in which the absolution spoken by God in Christ is contained, and through which it is offered, presented and given. And finally, it is solely the resurrection of Christ from the dead which makes the absolution which one person pronounces upon another a real absolution… (pp. 231-33. Emphases added.)

The subjective aspect of justification – that is, the absolution of the individual, received by faith alone – is then explained by Walther in these words:

Many think that if the doctrine were true that God has already absolved the whole world by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, then it would follow that the whole world accordingly already has the forgiveness of sins, and that as a result the whole world would also have to be saved, – for where there is forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation. But as true as it is, that with forgiveness we have salvation, so false is the conclusion that everyone has forgiveness. In every case of real giving there are two parties that come into consideration, the donor and the recipient. What does it benefit a poor man if he rejects the gift of a rich man…? What personal benefit does a rebel derive if an entire rebellious city has been pardoned but he for himself does not accept the pardon…? What does it help an imprisoned criminal that freedom is proclaimed to him if, in spite of the open prison doors, he will not leave his prison…? What does it benefit the person who has offended someone if he will not accept the fact that the offended person is reconciled to him, that, holding to his hatred and resentment, he refuses the pardoning hand? What does it help the world that Christ is really its Savior if it will not hear of a Savior? What does it profit the world that Christ really has redeemed it and reconciled it to God if in self-righteous delusion it insists on being its own redeemer and reconciler? The same is the case also regarding the general absolution which God has pronounced upon the whole world through the resurrection of Christ, the Surety and Substitute for all mankind. … Please understand that…the poor world has no benefit from the fact that God through Christ’s resurrection has already absolved the world entirely from all its sins as long as it continues in its unbelief. … Every one of us must learn to say from the heart: I, too, am absolved. The forgiveness of sins is mine. God has declared also me free from all my guilt. The little words, “I,” “me,” and “mine” are the words upon which everything depends here. … And, dear friends, let me add this: The general absolution which God has already pronounced upon all men must not only be accepted in faith by every individual person if he would be saved, but this can take place in no other way than by faith alone. (pp. 233-35. Emphases added.)

This kind of Christ-centered and Christ-focused understanding of objective justification is also brought out in this essay on The Doctrine of Justification, written and delivered by Walther in 1872.

It is, by the way, a mistaken notion that “objective justification” is an unheard-of teaching in Lutheranism, except in the synods of the Synodical Conference tradition. In the last century, the objective/subjective justification formulation was also explicitly embraced and taught by Carroll Herman Little, a theologian in the United Lutheran Church in America; and by Tom G. A. Hardt, a Swedish theologian. And even when that precise way of speaking has not been used, the fundamental truth of objective justification is implicitly recognized whenever Lutherans speak of the divine justification, in Christ, that is received by faith. Something cannot be received unless it exists. And humanity’s justification does exist in Christ, humanity’s substitute and Savior, who died for all, and who was raised to life for all.


Walther’s teaching on objective/subjective justification — 39 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post, Pastor Webber. Could you please do me the honor of either posting here, in an article, or to my email ([email protected]) addressing how election ties into objective justification. -And, if possible, how best to explain it to others.

  2. Objective justification pertains to the truth that the gospel is offered efficaciously to all, not just to some. Election pertains to the truth that the gospel is received effectively just by some, not by all. The mystery of a particular election in Christ is hidden within the universal offering of Christ to all.

    By nature, the corrupt heart of un-regenerated man will always reject the gospel. God’s election in Christ determines that in the case of some, this rejection will be overcome by the grace of God, and faith will be engendered.

    We do not know who the elect are, so we preach law and gospel to everyone – as we have been told to do. And it is through this universal offering of the gospel that God’s Spirit regenerates and preserves the elect. We preach the gospel as a universally-applicable gospel, since that is the gospel Christ has given us to preach, and through this gospel his Spirit works faith in those who do in fact believe.

    In the gospel, we do not tell the elect as such to believe in Christ, because they are elect. Again, we don’t know who the elect are. Rather, we tell all those who repent to believe in Christ, because Jesus died and was condemned for the sins of all, and because Jesus rose and was justified for the forgiveness of all.

  3. Those that reject Objective Justification it seems have a problem with universal grace; that only the elect are under God’s grace (particular grace). We know that the rain falls on the believer and the unbeliever alike. As Lutherans, we believe that we are saved by grace for the sake of Jesus Christ through faith. Some would have you to believe that you are saved by faith through grace for the sake of Christ. There is a difference.

  4. @David Jay Webber #3

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question. I think it makes more sense, as you have spelled it out – and at the same time, i still can see why it’s a mystery.

    i think it’s difficult to conceptualize the grace of objective justification in combination with the grace of election – as without election, the Ob Justification is rendered moot at a practical level.

    in trying to comprehend it, i can think of “well, without objective justification, it cannot be said that Christ died for all.” that makes sense. but without election, there is no hope for a saving faith. they will never be capable of having that forgiveness. at least that’s how i’m hearing it.

  5. @J. Dean #5

    They misunderstand on both counts while not taking into account what God has chosen to reveal and not reveal to us.

    There is but one justification with objective and subjective characteristics. Cling more to one perspective versus the other and your theology soon skews. The Bible says you must have saving faith. Well, that rules out alot of people. But then it says that God laid all of our iniquities on Jesus the scapegoat and that Jesus takes all the sins of the world away. This is a mystery that we must accept. Marquart to me was able to define this ‘feedback circuit’ as well as anyone.

  6. @Quasicelsus #6

    I don’t think that’s right.
    go to the formula of concord and the article on election.
    what I am hearing is Calvinism and not Lutheranism.

    I would like david to demonstrate from the formula of concord, the article on election that what he is teaching is Lutheran and not Calvinist.

    you can find that article here: http://www.bookofconcord.org

    I don’t think he will be able to demonstrate what he is saying is sound doctrine.

    why not?

    he is implying that when we say, in baptism, in the lords supper, in the absolution and in a sermon the words “given and shed FOR YOU” that there is some doubt as to whether we can really trust those words. we would have to say this… they really are true… for me… IF I am one of the Elect. But how could I be sure of that? This really does smell like Calvinism.

  7. They Apology to the Augsburg confession says this about objective and subjective justification:

    Justification always happens in this way: God makes a Promise (objective justification), faith clings to the Promise, Faith receives, right where it is offered, the Promised Mercy (subjective justification).

    The words objective and subjective are not used anywhere in our Confessions. That terminology is not to be insisted upon. But the underlying doctrine is everywhere in our confessions. How do we know we are elect? Alone from God’s Word.

    Quasicelsus: when you were Baptized God told you that you were his. Election. Believe that. You and I and our reason are liars. God cannot lie. You are elect. When he says in the holy Supper “given and shed FOR YOU”. God cannot lie. You are his. You are elect. We can know of our election and be certain of it from God’s Word. You must read the book of Romans in the order St Paul presents it. God has condemned all so that he might have mercy on all. But what about you, in particular? After chapters 1-7 election means something…. for YOU. Outside of that context, election is a terrifying thing.

  8. @fws #9
    Your tingling spidey-senses are right. I smell Calvinism. For instance, what comfort can election possibly be if we make a Calvinist statement like this: “We do not know who the elect are…” Thank you for your Confessional response! 🙂

  9. This is what I said:

    “We do not know who the elect are, so we preach law and gospel to everyone – as we have been told to do. And it is through this universal offering of the gospel that God’s Spirit regenerates and preserves the elect. ”

    In the context, when I say that “we” do not know who the elect are, it means we preachers of law and gospel.

    I also said:

    “In the gospel, we do not tell the elect as such to believe in Christ, because they are elect. Again, we don’t know who the elect are. Rather, we tell all those who repent to believe in Christ…”

    Here again, in the context, when I say that “we” don’t know who the elect are, it means we preachers, or tellers, who tell the penitent to believe in Christ.

    An individual believer is, of course, comforted by his own election in the context of his having had the gospel preached to him, and in the context of his having been brought to faith in that gospel by the Holy Spirit. But the gospel that comforts the elect is not a gospel that is just for the elect as such, and is preached only to the elect as such. It is a gospel that is for everyone and is to be preached “to everyone” – which is also what I said.

    In order for what I said to be wrong, and contrary to the Formula of Concord, the Formula of Concord would need to be teaching that the preachers of law and gospel know who the elect are beforehand, so that their preaching of the gospel would be directed consciously just to the elect, and not to everyone. That, however, would be Calvinism!

  10. @David Jay Webber #12
    It always happens when one attempts to present in a scriptural manner the mysteries of God, no matter how great effort you put into balancing and safeguarding your presentation, somebody will accuse you of error, often even some of the very errors you reject.

    Teach the mystery of the Holy Trinity scripturally; Modalists will accuse you of Tritheism, and Tritheists of Modalism.

    Teach election scripturally, or, as in this case, a topic closely related to it; those of a classical Reformed inclination will accuse you of Arminianism, whereas Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians will accuse you of Calvinism.

    To be accused of opposing errors is usually a good sign that you have been balanced in your presentation of the Biblical material.

    I think most of us have inclinations to emphasise different sides of the Biblical testimony, leaning to one side a bit more than the other, without actually embracing the error of acknowledging only one side of the Biblical teaching and ignoring the other.

    I even think most of us will have different leanings on different days, depending on such circumstances as the topic given to us, and the texts in front of us. One presentation will seem a bit more Tritheist than Modalist, one more Calvinist than Arminina – and vice versa. And there is really nothing all that strange about that, nor is it necessarily a bad thing – as long as we do not actually fall into the error of disregarding or contradicting Biblical truth.

    And those who just have an ax to grind or a need to prove themselves better will always be able to select a particular phrasing to which another very particular meaning can be attached, particularly when detached from the context, and which can then be attacked as being heretical – or at least as being not quite as well presented as it would be if *I* had done the presentation.

    This is particular easy when it comes to a very brief statement that is really about something else, and made with a certain degree of haste – as I think many of the comments in this forum are, to a certain degree, since the medium invites it.

    And then there is the factor that some of us have reached our own conclusions and found rest in our own particular ways of expressing and understanding these mysteries, in particular phrasings with which we are comfortable. And somehow it itches when we are presented with different phrasings or different paths to the same partial conclusions. And so easily we come to canonise our own expressions and forget that our solutions to the mysteries actually have neither dissolved the mysteries nor exhausted the scriptural testimonies to them.

    Personally I found it very clear already initially that when you said that “we do not know who the elect are” you were not talking in a metaphysical sense in terms of a double predestination, nor speculating on the criteria for the eternal election of individuals, but that you were rather distancing yourself from such speculation with the statement that as a preacher you do not know who will embrace the salvation offered and given with the Gospel, and who will not, and therefore it is your duty, as well as that of any other preacher, to preach salvation in Christ as an objective fact and as a gift given with the proclamation of the promise.
    And there is nothing un-lutheran about that. That’s how we do it.

  11. @Jais H. Tinglund #13
    you were rather distancing yourself from such speculation with the statement that as a preacher you do not know who will embrace the salvation offered and given with the Gospel, and who will not, and therefore it is your duty, as well as that of any other preacher, to preach salvation in Christ as an objective fact and as a gift given with the proclamation of the promise.
    And there is nothing un-lutheran about that. That’s how we do it.

    Well said. We do not know (about others!) which will be led to believe and which, despite baptism, may later fall away and refuse to believe.
    For ourselves, we are baptized and I am told that a concern about unbelief is evidence of faith.
    Those who do not believe do not care about it either. [I have heard that lack of concern from relatives, sorry to say.]

    @David Jay Webber #12
    The general absolution which God has already pronounced upon all men must not only be accepted in faith by every individual person if he would be saved, but this can take place in no other way than by faith alone. (pp. 233-35. Emphases added.)

    I confess that I have not read Paul Rydecki’s paper, only comments and excerpts, but in what way does he differ from what you have said?

  12. Thanks to everyone for your insights.

    I’ve been trying to parse the arguments on each side, with the understanding that this is a controversy dating back a couple of centuries. I may not have it exactly right, but I’m going to try to summarize the positions without using the “buzzwords” that so often seem to lead to misunderstandings of meaning. I will also refrain from any of the accusatory and vicious language I have seen on both sides.

    A. By living a perfect life and dying an innocent death, Christ paid for the sins of the entire world, satisfied God’s justice, and bought all mankind back from sin. On this both sides seem to agree.

    B. No one goes to heaven apart from faith in Christ. Universalism – that all are saved, limited atonement – that only some are redeemed, and faith in faith are rejected. On this both sides seem to agree.

    C. The point in question then is, how is man DECLARED righteous before God? Both sides agree that it is because of Christ’s work alone. One side believes that Christ’s work created an independent righteousness for all mankind that is grasped through faith, the other side believes that righteousness is only available through and an integral part of faith. One side believes that the objective nature of man’s righteousness means that it already exists through Christ’s death and resurrection and is waiting to be received, the other side believes objectivity to be a descriptive comparison between God’s work and Man’s.

    With Luther, I have no use for those minds which can debate on both sides and conclude nothing. I guess I just cannot agree that there is any form, sort, manner, method, or description of justification apart from faith. Faith is not man’s action necessary to achieve justification, but God’s gift by which man receives it. Presenting it as dual notions of objective and subjective, regardless of who presents it and even if intended as a simplifying explanation, seems, at best, unnecessary. The objective nature of justification regards Christ as the object of man’s forgiveness, entirely apart from man’s works. Even saving faith is not man’s work but God’s. Therefore, there is no subjective justification. I’m not convinced that justification is something that exists for all men for all time. Only believers ARE justified. Hier stehe ich.

    Another key question is, “Does this difference of understanding of justification break fellowship?” Without regard to other concerns of fellowship, this issue ALONE does not, in my opinion. Provided one does not descend into Universalism on the one hand, and faith-in-faith and works righteousness on the other hand, the question of when justification occurs should be a point of theological discussion, not rejection of fellowship. Both sides hold that Christ is the atoning sacrifice for all sin, that man cannot work his way into God’s grace or appease His justice, and that the gift of faith is necessary for salvation. I thank God for Brothers of John the Steadfast, Intrepid Lutherans, and those pastors on all sides who have stood for confessional Lutheran Doctrine despite their differences on this issue.

    In Christ,
    Joel A. Dusek

  13. @Joel A. Dusek #15
    If you are looking for a practical application, I think this would summarise it:
    The question is what is to be preached, and how the offer and/or promise of salvation is to be offered in preaching.

    a) There is salvation for you, if you believe it.
    b) Salvation is yours; believe it!

    And I think the major benefit of Lutheran preaching (b) as opposed to the pietist and revivalist one (a) is that it sets the believer free from wondering and worrying about whether or not his “faith” is sufficient in terms of intensity or authenticity to allow him to have certainty of his salvation. It sets him free from thinking of faith as a requirement he needs to fulfill before he can have salvation, since faith is neither his own contribution nor what actually works salvation, but rather the response to God’s promise, which God Himself works in him through His promise – which is, in fact, a promise, given without conditions, and a statement of fact.
    That, and it is the truth of God.

  14. @Jais Tinglund #16

    “and a statement of fact”

    When God speaks his Word, what he declares, becomes.
    It is this that Calvinists miss and it is this that was missing in what I felt was a Calvnist formulation.
    The omission of this point makes all the difference in the world!

  15. @fws #17
    Calvinism again, as I understand it, would be something completely different.
    It would say something along these lines: “Salvation might be yours, if you happen to be among the elect. And if that is the case, then you will definitely be saved. Or you might be created and predetermined by God for eternal damnation, and if that is the case, then you will definitely not be saved. In the final analysis, there is really no way you can know. But if you are doing well in life and making a lot of money, or if you really feel moved by the Spirit, that *might* be an indication that you are among the elect. Or it might not.”
    I think Calvinist would feel misrepresented if one were to ascribe to Calvinism the view that Christ crucified has little or nothing to do with your salvation, or the preaching of Christ crucified. I am not exactly sure why, though.

  16. in any event, i’m grateful for FWS’ comments, though i still admit i have some confusion on the matter.

  17. I know that this is an old thread and this issue is consistently debated even now. For the record,I am not a theologian but a layman trying to understand each side of this coin. In [2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.] Now from my layman mind in which I could be wrong in my interpretation, it seems to me supports objective/subjective justification in conjunction also with other scripture. Whereas the anointing and seal of ownership [absolution] was given to man by God because of Christ which satisfied God’s justice for man’s sin.[Forgiveness of the world’s sin before and after][objective] The Spirit was then deposited in man’s heart[allowing for grace and absolution to deliver forgiveness to the penitent sinner] when man believes in divine word of forgiveness by that faith through Christ is justified [subjective]. Those without faith do not receive absolution. As I said before I am just a layman and there may be better interpretations. Thanks be to God.

  18. This idea that the gospel is offered efficaciously to all men as somebody put it (as if all were absolved and declared righteous) is a total heresy from Satan. As the last poster KD who humbly admits he is a layman put it, only believer are justified and only believer have absolution. This is so basic, that it is hard to explain what has happened to the elite in the LCMS, the pastors (as well as C.F.W. Walther and Francis Pieper) to depart so radically from the 16th century reformers. Folks Christ bore the sins of believers alone, the sins of his people, certainly the gospel is offered to all, all are not only invited but commanded to trust in the sufficiency of Christ’s blood as the only atoning sacrifice for sin, to come to the throne of mercy, but this invitation, this command to come, in order to be saved from the wrath to come at no point implies that anybody has had their sins forgiven prior to coming to faith, quite the contrary we must believe in order to be forgiven our sins.

    “Romans 4:16: That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,”

    “Acts 2:38: And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    “Romans 3:24: and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

    Let it be clear there is no remission of sin, no propitiation of sin, no justification, and no grace outside of faith. It is of faith so that it may be of grace as I quoted from Romans 4:16. The propitiation by his blood, is to be received by faith as I quoted in Romans 4:16, those that do not have faith have not had their sins remitted, no ifs or buts. This has nothing to do with calvinism, arminianism, or being a roman catholic or lutheran, all orthodox christianity in the 16th century affirmed this elementary tenet. Universal objective justification is a serious heresy that puts the church outside christian orthodoxy.

  19. 1 John: “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the world.”

    Was John a heretic?

    Small Catechism: “On the last day he will raise me and all dead (UOJ) and give eternal salvation to me and all believers in Christ (Subjective Justification).”

    The death and resurrection of Christ means all will be raised. However, eternal salvation is given by grace through faith. Those without faith are condemned to an eternity in hell.

    If there is no UOJ, then only believers will rise from the dead and the Seventh Day Adventists are right about annihilationism.

  20. Romans 5:18 (ESV)
    Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for ALL men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for ALL men (meaning mankind or the entire human race).

    We all begin our lives on the same footing before God deserving His wrath. But Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection has provided the cure and atoned for the sins of the world, past, present, and future (UOJ). There is not one sin that has not been covered by the blood of Jesus. His death on the cross and resurrection are a “get out of jail free card” for the world, to use a popular idiom.

    But salvation is binary in that UOJ must be apprehended by the means of grace through faith, totally a gift from God. An individual’s subjective justification can be rendered null and void by his own fault of rejecting God’s promise of forgiveness, life, and salvation through the means of grace. Our sins don’t condemn us, only willful rejection and unbelief in what God’s Son has already accomplished for us on the cross.

    FCSD XI 41. For few receive the Word and follow it; the greatest number despise the Word, and will not come to the wedding, Matt. 22:3ff. The cause for this contempt for the Word is not God’s foreknowledge [or predestination], but the perverse will of man, which rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Ghost, which God offers him through the call, and resists the Holy Ghost, who wishes to be efficacious, and works through the Word, as Christ says: How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not!

  21. @T-rav #22

    1 John: “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the world.”

    This promise in 1 John certainly refers to the church (the word world refers to all the churches in the world), to those that have faith, “we have an advocate with the father” is a promise for believers. The unbeliever does not have an advocate with the father. Jesus intercession in John 17, is for the elect alone, Jesus was not advocating for the world, John 17:9 “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours”.

    The problem with objective justification and why it is a departure from orthodox Christianity and a denial of justification by faith, is that it proclaims an unconditional absolution of all mankind. This is heresy, and it has nothing to do with limited or unlimited atonement. I believe in unlimited atonement, that Christ died for the sins of the world (all men) and that he has redeemed the whole human race, on condition of faith. On condition of faith is what is missing in the doctrine of objective justification, if universal objective justification were contingent on faith I would have no problem with the doctrine.
    So even though there is an objective universal redemption, it is conditional and not unconditional, it demands faith. In 1 Corithians 15:1-3 Paul clearly taught a universal objective justification that depend on faith. This is why we are justified by grace through faith on account of Christ, we have been redeemed by Christ Jesus and saved if we believe and cling to this truth, if we come to him and avail ourselves of this salvation. It is faith that justifies, precisely because it points to Christ’s conditional satisfaction at the cross (we must believe in order to be saved). Now it is true that faith points us outside of us, we are not saved by believing we have faith (faith in faith), but by believing that Christ has redeemed us at Calvary, our assurance comes from Christ’s objective universal redemption when it is applied to us through faith. Romans 3:23: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” Notice that the propitiation is through faith in his blood, there cannot possibly be any universal propitiation of sin for the unbeliever, because the propitiation of sin that God’s offer through Christ is offered to all to be received by faith. To separate the atonement from faith is impossible, without faith the is no atonement for sin, because the atonement was designed by God and intended by Christ to be received by faith. The gospel is not a proclamation of some universal and accomplished atonement for sin that has to be believed, quite the contrary there is no remission of sin until we are born again, until we have received Jesus Christ, until we have come to Christ, until we have believed. Your sins are forgiven, the absolution can only be proclaimed to believers, to the Church, the absolution can only be proclaimed to those that have come to Christ, to his throne of mercy in faith. When the tax collector cried “God have mercy on me a sinner” he was justified, but not before that. The same with the thief on the cross, when he came to Jesus and asked him to remember him when he goes to the Father, he received the absolution. Jesus proclaimed the absolution to the thief on the cross because he was a believer, but not to the other criminal that was on the other side. If we read the confession of faith of the Thief on the Cross, we will realize that Christ proclaimed his absolution on the basis of that confession, because the thief of the cross had faith. Romans 10, whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (receive remission of sins), but nobody can call on the name of the Lord unless they believe first says the Apostle Paul in Romans 10. The tax collector and the thief on the cross call upon the name of the Lord , they were believers and Christ proclaimed the absolution to them solely because they already had faith.

    Pastor Weber makes a tragic theological error when he states: “Rather, we tell all those who repent to believe in Christ”. You are wrong Pastor Weber, those that have repented already believe in Jesus Christ, repentance in the Augsburg Confession includes two components contrition over sin and faith in Jesus Christ. There can be no repentance unless faith be present.

  22. @Mark #23

    1) You write : “But salvation is binary in that UOJ must be apprehended by the means of grace through faith, totally a gift from God.”

    You are 100 % correct.

    2) You write: “Our sins don’t condemn us, only willful rejection and unbelief in what God’s Son has already accomplished for us on the cross.”

    You are 100 % wrong. What Christ accomplished on the cross is conditional on faith. Those that do not have faith will die in their sin and condemned by their sin, murderers condemned for murder, adulterers for adultery, liars for lying, the covetous for coveting, the thiefs for theft. Their sins were never atoned for, since the atonement is conditional on faith, and as such all unbelievers will pay for their own sins. Only the Christian is under grace (Romans 6 and Romans 8), the unbeliever is under the law and will be judged by the law and perish.

  23. @Bill #25

    This also responds to comment #24

    “Their sins were never atoned for, since the atonement is conditional on faith, and as such all unbelievers will pay for their own sins.”

    So Christ is not the propitiation for the sins of the world? You literally just said it.

    Sorry, I’m not buying your interpretive gymnastics! John says in 1 John “not for ours only” meaning the Church, and he says “the world” meaning the world. All sinners have the same Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ- the way the truth and the life. Faith clings to this Advocate. That is what makes unbelief so frustratingly tragic.

    You may say this has nothing to do with limited/unlimited atonement, but that’s exactly what I’m seeing, except that different terminology is used.

    The only other possible thing I can think is you have a very different idea of what Scripture means in various places when it says: Christ died for our sins.

    I haven’t quite put my finger on it, but the kind of Christ you’re portraying seems rather weak. As in He somehow needs my faith to make His atonement effective, rather than faith clinging to His effective for the world atonement.

  24. @T-rav #26

    “I haven’t quite put my finger on it, but the kind of Christ you’re portraying seems rather weak. As in He somehow needs my faith to make His atonement effective, rather than faith clinging to His effective for the world atonement.”

    Christ is not weak, he is the remedy for sin, for the sins of all men. But unless you take that remedy, put your trust in his blood his atonement is completely ineffective, not because there is any deficiency in the atonement, but because the unbeliever does not benefit. It is the same thing with a vaccine, the best polio vaccine, when applied to an infant it saves him from polio, but it has no power to save thousands of children in Africa because the vaccine is not applied, children are not vaccinated. The blood of Christ has the ultimate power to save, the atonement is not weak, but it depends on faith. It is a remedy for sin, but just like any remedy, if the patient does not take the remedy is powerless. The atonement has not covered the sins of unbelievers, it is limited to the elect as far as its saving efficacy, yet it is unlimited for all as far as its potential to save every man on condition of faith. The atonement needs your faith to become effective, but this does not mean the atonement is weak, that is your interpretation. But scripture clearly teaches that Christ’s propitiation is to be received by faith, otherwise it is worthless and profits nothing, but this is not a sing of weakness of the atonement but a sing of weakness of man that does not believe and refuses to put his trust in the blood of the lamb that takes away the sins of the world, on condition that the world believes it and receives Christ. We are saved by grace, but we most importantly we are saved through faith, there is no grace outside of faith, actually it is of faith so that it may rest on grace. Romans 4:16 . Just because the atonement is worthless without faith, does not make it weak, quite the contrary, it is man’s unbelief that is to blame and not the atonement for this lack of faith.

  25. @Bill #27

    You are confusing and jumbling together the general concepts of the power of something to accomplish a certain purpose, and the practical accomplishing of that purpose. A polio vaccine absolutely does have the power to save a child who nevertheless is not vaccinated. The act of vaccinating a child does not add power to the medicine, but it applies the power to save that is objectively in the medicine, so that what had been efficacious (capable of producing a result) becomes now effective (producing a result). Objective justification is a truth of the gospel that is in the realm of the efficacy of the gospel, and not in the realm of the practical effectiveness of the gospel for individual penitent sinners. Humanity’s forgiveness is an established reality in Christ, by virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ. And that forgiveness, for all for whom Christ died, is actually in the gospel and in the means of grace, which therefore have the power to justify individually every individual to whom this forgiveness is delivered and applied. The preaching of the gospel applies the gospel’s power to save and forgive. It does not create that power. Faith in the preached gospel is the reception of the gospel’s power to save and forgive. It does not create that power.

  26. @David Jay Webber #28

    I think I agree with what you say. As long as objective justification refers to the power of the gospel to save, to forgive the sins of those that will believe the good news, so it is not universal but particular to the elect. My issue is that objective justification in lutheran theology does not at all mention the power of the gospel for everyone that believes (the elect) Romans 1:16 , 1 Corinthians 1:18. The gospel has no power for the unbeliever, it is actually an aroma of death.2 Corinthians 2:!5-17 . The gospel is not a proclamation to unbelievers that their sins have been forgiven at Calvary, but rather a proclamation for the unbeliever to repent and come to Christ for salation.

  27. Objective justification is about the justification of Christ as the representative and stand-in for everyone for whose sins he had atoned. In his resurrection Christ is vindicated, and is justified vicariously for the world, because he had died for the world, and because God the Father had accepted his sacrifice on the world’s behalf. Therefore in Christ’s justification, the world for whom he had died is justified. This is not particular for the elect, since according to the pattern of sound words in Scripture Jesus did not die and rise again only for the elect but for the world. The means of grace are offered not only to the elect but to the world. The world is genuinely invited by God to believe the gospel and receive God’s forgiveness, and not only the elect.

    I would recommend that you read and study this essay, which was written after the original post at the head of this thread, if you want to understand the historic Lutheran teaching on objective justification. Luther was overwhelmingly clear in his preaching of this comforting doctrine, and we can benefit from hearing him…


  28. “The means of grace are offered not only to the elect but to the world. The world is genuinely invited by God to believe the gospel and receive God’s forgiveness, and not only the elect.”

    Pastor Webber, the means of grace are certainly offered to the whole world, as far as the great commission is concerned the gospel ought to be preached to every creature. And the world does not exclude anybody. Many are called, Christ is sincerely offered to all those that is preached. in that God promises salvation to any man that would believe. With that said few are chosen, when Christ is preached the holy spirit reveals Christ solely to the elect by creating faith. The special revelation that “Christ died for my sins, that he stood in my place at Calvary, that he fulfilled the law on my behalf” applies to the elect alone to whom the holy spirit reveals this objective truth Romans 8:16 . Christ fulfilled the law, but only for the elect, those that are under grace are the elect (Romans 6, only those that have been baptized are under grace and not under the law, not the whole mass of unbelievers), and he offered himself as a sacrifice solely for the elect, he satisfied the righteous requirements of the law for the elect alone ( Romans 8:4 ). If somebody thinks this is too calvinistic, I am OK replacing the way elect by the word believers, for all those that would believe, and for those only did Christ offer himself and effectually redeemed them. I am also fine if somebody wanted to say that Christ satisfied for all men on condition of faith, which I said in my first post. This may sound arminian, but it not, this was the unanimous position of the 16th century reformers, both lutherans and Reformed in the Heidelberg Catechism (Ursinus in his commentary affirms that Christ satisfied for all, and the reason not all go to heaven is that he satisfied as far as the sufficiency of the atonement for all men, but not the application since only the elect are given the gift of faith). I am very concerned that modern lutheranism has repudiated the Lombardian formula which was the consensus that both 16th century reformers and roman catholics adhered to, that the atonement is sufficient for all (it has the power to save any man that believes, had Judas believed he would have been saved, but it has no power to save the unbeliever, thus Judas was condemned and his sins were not paid at the cross) but efficacious or efficient only in the elect (the elect alone receive Christ’s righteousness, and their sins alone were laid on Jesus).

    I was unable to read the link you provided, since the PDF file does not load, it appears to have been taken down. Regardless, scripture many times refers to a limited atonement and many other times to an unlimited atonement. Prosper of Acquitaine whom Luther admired had great insights on this, and I will quote him in a separate post right after this one.

  29. Prosper of Aqcquitaine understood the nature of the atonement, in a way that few do today where there is a massive amount of confusion in an area that there were no disagreements in the 16th century, catholics, lutherans, and reformed (yes, Calvin never taught limited atonement which was first introduced by Theodore Beza, a student of Calvin who departed from his teacher) all agreed with the orthodox understanding of Prosper. If you think about it, the lutherans confessions at no point address the limited versus unlimited atonement controversy, because there were no controversies. Universal Objective Justification though is very controversial and a radical departure from the 16th century understanding of the atonement by the Reformers, which was consistent with the Roman Catholic Church as well. Below is the orthodox lutheran and roman catholic position as expounded by Prosper. From http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.ca/2007/01/from-prospers-defense-of-augustine.html

    From Prosper’s (c.390–465) Defense of Augustine: On Christ’s Redemption
    Prosper of Aquitaine said:
    1) OBJECTION: The Saviour was not crucified for the redemption of the entire world.

    ANSWER: There is not one among men whose nature was not taken by Christ our Lord, though He was born in the likeness of sinful flesh only, while every other man is born in sinful flesh. Thus, the Son of God, who was God Himself, becoming partaker of our mortal nature without partaking in its sin, granted to sinful and mortal men the grace that those who by regeneration would share in His nativity could be freed from the bonds of sin and death. Accordingly, just as it is not enough that Jesus Christ was born for men to be renewed, but they must be reborn in Him through the same Spirit from whom He was born, so also it is not enough that Christ our Lord was crucified for men to be redeemed, but they must die with Him and be buried with Him in baptism. If that were not so, then after our Saviour was born in the flesh of our own nature and crucified for us all, there would be no need for us to be reborn and to be planted together in the likeness of His death. But because no man attains to eternal life without the sacrament of baptism, one who is not crucified in Christ cannot be saved by the cross of Christ; and he who is not a member of the Body of Christ is not crucified in Christ. And he is not a member of the Body of Christ who does not put on Christ through water and the Holy Spirit. For Christ in the weakness of our flesh underwent the common lot of death, that we by virtue of His death be made partakers of His resurrection. Accordingly, though it is right to say that the Saviour was crucified for the redemption of the entire world, because He truly took our human nature and because all men were lost in the first man, yet it may also be said that He was crucified only for those who were to profit by His death. For St. John the Evangelist says: Jesus should die for the nation and not only for the nation, but to gather together in one the children of God that were dispersed. He came into His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave the power to be made sons of God, to them who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Their condition, therefore, is different from that of men counted among those of whom he said: The world knew Him not. In that sense we may say: the Redeemer of the world shed His blood for the world, and the world refused to be redeemed, because the darkness did not comprehend the light. Yet, there was a darkness which did comprehend the light, that, namely, of which the Apostle says: You were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. The Lord Jesus Himself, who said He came to seek and to save that which was lost, also says: I did not come but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. And St. Paul explains who are those sheep of the house of Israel: For all are not Israelites that are of Israel, neither are all they that are the seed of Abraham children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is to say, not they that are the children of the flesh are the children of God, but they that are the children of the promise are accounted for the seed. Among them are counted those to whom refers what we quoted above: Jesus should die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but to gather in one the children of God that were dispersed. It is not only from among the Jews but also from the Gentiles that the sons of God, the sons of the promise, are gathered into the one Church by Him who calleth those things that are not, as those that are, and who gathereth together the dispersed of Israel, in order to fulfil the promise of God to Abraham, that in his seed all the tribes of the earth would be blessed.
    Prosper of Aquitaine: Defense of St. Augustine, trans. P. De letter (New York: Newman Press, 1963), 149–151.
    2) QUALIFICATION ARTICLE 9 : Likewise, he who says that the Saviour was not crucified for the redemption of the entire world does not take into account the power of the mystery of the cross, but considers only the portion of mankind who have no faith.

    For it is certain that the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is the price for the redemption of the entire world. But they do not share in the application of this price who either cherishing their captivity refused to be liberated or having been liberated returned to their captivity. The word of the Lord did not fail to be accomplished, nor was the redemption of the world frustrated of its effect. For though the world considered in the vessels of wrath did not know God, yet the same world considered in the vessels of mercy knew God liberated the second, without any previous merit on their part, from the power of darkness and translated them into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
    Prosper of Aquitaine: Defense of St. Augustine, trans. P. De letter (New York: Newman Press, 1963), 159–160.
    3) OBJECTION Our Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer for the salvation and redemption of all men.

    ANSWER: The truly effectual and unique remedy for the wound of original sin, by which the common nature of all men was vitiated in Adam and condemned to death and which is the source of the three forms of concupiscence, is the death of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who being free from all necessity to die and the only sinless one, died for sinful men, who are condemned to die. Considering, then, on the one hand the greatness and value of the price paid for us, and on the other the common lot of the whole human race, one must say that the blood of Christ is the redemption of the entire world. But they who pass through this world without coming to the faith and without having been reborn in baptism, remain untouched by the redemption. Accordingly, since our Lord in very truth took upon Himself the one nature and condition which is common to all men, it is right to say that all have been redeemed, and that nevertheless not all are actually liberated from the slavery of sin. It is beyond doubt that the redemption is actually applied only to those from whom the prince of the World has been cast out,’ those who are no longer vessels of the devil but members of Christ. His death did not act on the whole human race in such a manner that even those who would never have been reborn in baptism would share in the redemption, but so that the mystery accomplished once for all in the person of Christ should be renewed in each and every man by the sacrament of baptism which he is to receive once also. The beverage of immortality prepared from our weakness and God’s power is apt to restore health to all men, but it cannot cure anyone unless he drink it.
    Prosper of Aquitaine: Defense of St. Augustine, trans. P. De letter (New York: Newman Press, 1963), 164.

    My Note:

    If one reads through these Prosper quotes carefully, they will be able to see that his point is this: Christ redeemed all men sufficiently, but only the elect efficiently, or Christ suffered for all sufficiently, but only for the elect efficiently, as it is only applied to them. The formula later gets converted into: Christ died for all sufficiently, but only for the elect effectually. Ultimately, the concept of the Lombardian formula (see his Sentences, Book III, Section 20, Paragraph E) goes back to the days of Prosper (who wrote as a defender of Augustine’s viewpoint), and even to Ambrose. The early Reformers, such as Musculus, Zwingli, Vermigli, Calvin and Bullinger, knew this well and believed it. It’s a shame that this dualistic perspective is being eclipsed by those that read Calvin through the lens of later thinkers (post-Reformational scholastics), rather than through the lens of those who preceded him (the fathers and the schoolmen), such as Ambrose, Augustine, Prosper, Anselm, Aquinas, Lombard etc. However, the truth is coming out nonetheless :-

  30. The proof that Universal Objective Justification is an unorthodox position lies in that it affirms that Christ died as a substitute for all human beings ever born, including Judas and Pharaoh. As I said before it was the unanimous position of the Christian Church at the time of the reformation that Christ died as a substitute for the elect alone, all roman catholics and protestants unanimously affirmed this. Even in the 17th century, both arminians and calvinists agreed that Christ died as a substitute for the elect alone, the only dispute between calvinists and arminians was whether Christ died for the elect based on foreseen faith (conditional election, which arminians affirm) or whether he died for the elect in order to bring them to faith (unconditional election which calvinists affirm). The Roman Catholic church who also affirmed the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, in the tradition of Augustine and Aquinas, it affirmed that Christ was the substitute for the church, the elect only. Both proponents of limited and unlimited atonement at the time of the reformation, affirmed that Christ died as a substitute for the elect alone. Also there is agreement among all orthodox christians that the suffering of Christ on the cross was of an infinite value, the payment made was of an infinite value, sufficient to atone for the sins of all human beings ever born. And from this point of view we can say that Christ offered himself sufficiently for all, his sacrifice was sufficient for all mankind, he bore the sins of the whole world in his sufficient suffering. The notion that Christ died as a vicarious substitute for every human being ever born, this doctrine of universal objective justification, that Walther presented is a clear departure of orthodox christianity. And furthermore it weakens the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement, since according to this doctrine people for which Christ died as a substitute will end up in hell, this is an innovation that started in the 19th century with Walther and was later refined by Karl Barth in the 20th century. Even the roman catholic church has in the 20th century adopted this doctrine of the atonement, at least the current pope seems to support it, where Christ died as a substitute for every human being ever born.

  31. @Bill #33

    This is pure Calvinism. And it is a purely Calvinistic reading of the historic evidence. You seem to have made up your mind as to what you intend to believe. But if you want to know what 16th-century Lutheranism actually taught in contrast to Calvinism, I highly recommend that you take a look at the book Lutheranism Vs. Calvinism: https://www.cph.org/p-30870-lutheranism-vs-calvinism-the-classic-debate-at-the-colloquy-of-montbliard-1586.aspx

    Here is a pertinent excerpt, from a statement Jacob Andreae addressed to Theodore Beza, correcting Beza’s theology (which also seems to be your theology), on pp. 618-19:

    …John 3[:16]: God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone who believes in him may not perish but rather have eternal life. … In these words of Christ, what is undoubtedly and certainly understood by the term “the world,” in the judgment and unanimous consensus of all writers and interpreters of the holy Scripture, the old ones and the new ones, is the universal human race. But Christ himself is the best interpreter of his own words, and he confirms this in the same passage in very plain words when he says, This is the judgment: that light has come into the world, and the world loved darkness more than the light (John 3[:19]). Here the term the world cannot be interpreted about the elect only, but rather it is especially about those who are rejected and damned. For they love the darkness more than the light. And they are damned who, even though God so loved them that he gave his Son for them, nevertheless themselves despise and scorn this gift and are judged and damned on this account. John the Baptist confirms the same thing, who when he pointed out Christ, said, Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1[:29]). Of the world, he says, not of the elect. Thus it is written in Romans 5[:10]: For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more will we, having been reconciled, be saved in his life. And 2 Corinthians 5: God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting their transgressions against them. And he placed in us the word of reconciliation. We function therefore as embassy for Christ, as God exhorting through us. We beg on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.

  32. Thank you Pastor Webber for the material you have recommended. I will be borrowing from Concordia University here in Edmonton the book. They have it available to the public. Also I have read your article http://redeemerscottsdale.angelfire.com/pdf/WebberEmmausConferenceEssay.pdf The link is now working.

    1) I disagree with you that I am a calvinist because I affirm that Christ died as a substitute for the elect alone. This is not a calvinist teaching, this is the teaching of all orthodox christians as I have said. Unlimited atonement teaches that Jesus paid for the sins of believers only, just like limited atonement does, this is a teaching of all orthodox christians. As I said before, the only difference between limited and unlimited atonement lies in whether Christ intention was in his atoning sacrifice to save all men or to save the elect alone. But that Christ saved the elect alone by his atoning sacrifice is not a matter of debate among orthodox christians and that he paid solely for their sins, period. Wikipedia may not be the best source, but this is what it says about unlimited atonement, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unlimited_atonement :

    “What it states:
    The atonement legally pays for the sins of those who believe on Jesus—Only those who believe on Jesus are forgiven—only the believers’ sins are paid …

    What it does not state:
    Jesus paid the penalty for those who deny faith in Him, and His death was a substitutionary atonement for those who deny Him—Though the term unlimited atonement can easily give the incorrect assumption that Jesus’ payment encompassed all people, unlimited atonement maintains a limit on the legal effect. Jesus’ death was indeed an offer of a substitutionary atonement to all, but this offer was resistible; though salvation is offered to all, not all are saved.”

    2), I disagree with you with your Barthian or Huberist interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5. On page 25 of this summary of the Sammuel Huber controversy https://essays.wls.wels.net/bitstream/handle/123456789/2282/Huber%20Translations_0.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y , Gerlach interpreted that God does not impute sins to the world as meaning all believers in the world, the world refers to believers, the letter of Paul is addressed to believers and 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul makes it very clear this reconciliation refers to those that are new creations in Christ, and solely those are the blessed ones whom God does not impute sin. Romans 4:7 and Romans 4:8 is clear that only the elect are blessed, in that God does not impute their sin. The UOJ theologians argue that this is subjective justification, but I answer there is nothing subjective about God not imputing his sin to Peter but imputing it to Judas. This is very objective, what you call subjective justification I say is as objective as it gets. This is what Gerlach had to say about 2 Corinthians 5:19 when refuting Huber, page 25 https://essays.wls.wels.net/bitstream/handle/123456789/2282/Huber%20Translations_0.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y :

    “Gerlach in the Theses Opposed to Huberianism, 185, 194, 208, 216, 219, 230.
    He and his associates overturn the passage in Corinthians on universal justification again in par. 2, fol. 137: “Reconciling the world to himself, we accept as simply universal, but the following words: ‘Not imputing sins to them,’ we understand as limited, in the manner expressed in the word of God and according to Paul, Rom. 4, we interpret regarding the faithful.”

    3) As much as I respect you as a Pastor and a man of God. I hear excellent things about you from Tom Baker (another godly man that has fallen into the UOJ error) in his program Law and Gospel, I will not allow you to hijack the lutheran faith and call those that disagree with the doctrine of universal objective justification calvinists. The differences between Luther and Calvin were mainly due to the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, other than that there were no real issues. Calvin had tremendous respect for Luther and Luther had tremendous respect for Calvin (Luther never called Calvin the Anti Christ as he did call the Pope). I look forward to reading the book you recommended though.

    4) Any definition of objective justification must be true indeed. That Judas was justified is objectively false, that Peter was justified is objectively true. Ergo, the elect alone have been objectively justified, to preach otherwise is to make God a liar. Universal Objective Justification is a false doctrine, the elect alone were objectively justified at Christ’s death and resurrection.

    5) The Augustana Synod was right and the Norwegian Synod was wrong. The means of grace confer grace to the elect alone. This has nothing to do with being a pietist. The apostle Paul said that the Word is an aroma of death for the unbeliever and the power of God unto salvation for the believer 2 Corinthians 2:15-17, the same Apostle taught that the unbeliever eats the Lord’s Supper to his condemnation 1 Corinthians 11:29 . The means of grace confer the forgiveness of sins solely to the elect. This is not pietism, this is the objective grace of God for the elect alone, teaching otherwise is making God a liar.

  33. @Bill #35

    “I disagree with you with your Barthian or Huberist interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5”

    Are you disagreeing with my interpretation, or with Andreae’s interpretation?

  34. Pastor Webber, I agree with Andreae’s interpretation that in John 3 the word world refers to the entire population in the universe. In 2 Corinthians 5:19 the word world could be either referring to the elect, or it could very well be referring to the entire population in the universe as Gerlach interprets. The Apostle Paul is not here for me to ask him what he meant, but let’s say he meant everyone (not just the elect) which is very possible, in that case all it would mean is that God is now reconciled to the whole world or propitious to the whole world, so that whosoever believes in him he would in no way cast out. Similar to John 3:16, God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son (God is reconciled to the whole world), that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but receive eternal life. So in 2 Corinthians 5:19, as I said I am in perfect agreement with Gerlach, that Huber may have got it right that the word world refers not just to the elect but to everyone. However, when it says in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was not imputing their trespasses, with Gerlach I agree that this passage has to be interpreted in light of Romans 4:7-8 , i.e. that God was not imputing the trespasses on the basis of faith, to the elect, it cannot possibly mean that the trespasses were not imputed to the whole world, and the whole world is now under grace and not under law, as both Huber and yourself in your paper advocate. This Huberian thesis has been declared unorthodox by the 16th century lutherans, in this case Gerlach.

    Romans 4:25, another darling of the UOJ theologians, certainly has to be read in light of Romans 4:24 where Paul clearly speaks of “us, believers”. The objective justification Paul refers to in Romans 4:25, is the objective justification of the believers he refers to in Romans 4:24. Ditto for Romans 5, another chapter that the UOJ theologians quote.

    Pastor Webber, I have no doubts you are a man of God (one of the finest and best, specially today where the lutheran distinction of law and gospel has been lost in many evangelical churches and instead has been replaced by practical tips for life improvement), and sincerely believe that the gospel is best preached if the UOJ doctrine is maintained. But this is not the way the apostle Paul preached that God commands all men to repent Acts 17:30 , I can’t see a single passage in the entire New Testament where the gospel is being preached as an announcement that all sinners were declared righteous, neither in Acts 2 in Peter’s sermon at Pentecost nor in Acts 10 in the preaching to Cornelius nor anywhere in the whole New Testament. I read the whole book Law and Gospel by C F W Walther, unfortunately he makes a mistake, the gospel is not an announcement that all sinners (including those that will never come to faith) have already been declared righteous at the time of the resurrection, the gospel was never preached like that in the entire New Testament.

    By the way there are unfortunately some high calvinists that misinterpret John 3:16 and teach that the elect refers to the world. John Owen in particular, comes to mind, and many calvinists have been influenced by this false teaching. John Calvin on the other hand correctly interpreted John 3:16 as the world (all sinners, not just the elect), I will post his commentary on my next post.

  35. John Calvin’s commentary on John 3:16, the world refers to all sinners, not to the elect. It is a myth that Calvin ever taught God so loved the world as God so loved the elect, Calvin interpreted the word world as every human being ever born in his commentary, which I have copied and pasted below. Calvin teaches that God loves the human race (not only the elect as he is falsely accused by Walther, Pieper, and so many ill informed in the LCMS) and wishes that none should perish in the below quoted commentary on John 3:16.
    http://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/john/3.htm. Calvin on John 3:16:

    “16. For God so loved the world. Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought to be carefully observed; for such is the wicked ambition which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates to the origin of our salvation, we quickly form diabolical imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we imagine that God is reconciled to us, because he has reckoned us worthy that he should look upon us. But Scripture everywhere extols his pure and unmingled mercy, which sets aside all merits.

    And the words of Christ mean nothing else, when he declares the cause to be in the love of God. For if we wish to ascend higher, the Spirit shuts the door by the mouth of Paul, when he informs us that this love was founded on the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:5.) And, indeed, it is very evident that Christ spoke in this manner, in order to draw away men from the contemplation of themselves to look at the mercy of God alone. Nor does he say that God was moved to deliver us, because he perceived in us something that was worthy of so excellent a blessing, but ascribes the glory of our deliverance entirely to his love. And this is still more clear from what follows; for he adds, that God gave his Son to men, that they may not perish. Hence it follows that, until Christ bestow his aid in rescuing the lost, all are destined to eternal destruction. This is also demonstrated by Paul from a consideration of the time;

    for he loved us while we were still enemies by sin, (Romans 5:8, 10.)

    And, indeed, where sin reigns, we shall find nothing but the wrath of God, which draws death along with it. It is mercy, therefore, that reconciles us to God, that he may likewise restore us to life.

    This mode of expression, however, may appear to be at variance with many passages of Scripture, which lay in Christ the first foundation of the love of God to us, and show that out of him we are hated by God. But we ought to remember — what I have already stated — that the secret love with which the Heavenly Father loved us in himself is higher than all other causes; but that the grace which he wishes to be made known to us, and by which we are excited to the hope of salvation, commences with the reconciliation which was procured through Christ. For since he necessarily hates sin, how shall we believe that we are loved by him, until atonement has been made for those sins on account of which he is justly offended at us? Thus, the love of Christ must intervene for the purpose of reconciling God to us, before we have any experience of his fatherly kindness. But as we are first informed that God, because he loved us, gave his Son to die for us, so it is immediately added, that it is Christ alone on whom, strictly speaking, faith ought to look.

    He gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him may not perish. This, he says, is the proper look of faith, to be fixed on Christ, in whom it beholds the breast of God filled with love: this is a firm and enduring support, to rely on the death of Christ as the only pledge of that love. The word only-begotten is emphatic, (emphatikon) to magnify the fervor of the love of God towards us. For as men are not easily convinced that God loves them, in order to remove all doubt, he has expressly stated that we are so very dear to God that, on our account, he did not even spare his only-begotten Son. Since, therefore, God has most abundantly testified his love towards us, whoever is not satisfied with this testimony, and still remains in doubt, offers a high insult to Christ, as if he had been an ordinary man given up at random to death. But we ought rather to consider that, in proportion to the estimation in which God holds his only-begotten Son, so much the more precious did our salvation appear to him, for the ransom of which he chose that his only-begotten Son should die. To this name Christ has a right, because he is by nature the only Son of God; and he communicates this honor to us by adoption, when we are engrafted into his body.

    That whosoever believeth on him may not perish. It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

    Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ.

    Still it is not yet very evident why and how faith bestows life upon us. Is it because Christ renews us by his Spirit, that the righteousness of God may live and be vigorous in us; or is it because, having been cleansed by his blood, we are accounted righteous before God by a free pardon? It is indeed certain, that these two things are always joined together; but as the certainty of salvation is the subject now in hand, we ought chiefly to hold by this reason, that we live, because God loves us freely by not imputing to us our sins. For this reason sacrifice is expressly mentioned, by which, together with sins, the curse and death are destroyed. I have already explained the object of these two clauses,

    which is, to inform us that in Christ we regain the possession of life, of which we are destitute in ourselves; for in this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order of time, goes before salvation.”

  36. Now one last thing I omitted is that even though objective justification is a false gospel, a false doctrine because it confers the forgiveness of sins to unbelievers, there is something to be said about baptism. Although the Augustana Synod was correct in affirming that the absolution both objectively and subjectively solely absolves the believer, and the same can be said about the Lord’s Supper, even though everybody receives the actual body and blood of Christ believers do it for salvation and unbelievers for condemnation. The only means of grace that is different is baptism. Luther did teach that baptism both objectively and subjectively forgives the sins of all that are baptized. What makes baptism different from the Word and the Lord’s Supper (the other sacrament) ? Why is baptism a means of universal grace while the Supper and the Word of absolution are not (they are means of grace for believers alone) ? The answer is simple in baptism, Luther and the 16th century lutherans taught that faith is created, new life is imparted to all. In infant baptism the baby comes to faith. Baptism, without failure creates faith. It brings an infant from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God. The word of preached (or word of absolution) on the other hand brings only a few to faith, unlike baptism that brings all baptized children to faith.

    The New Covenant in Jeremiah 31, is very simple, the promise of God is to create faith, he writes his law in the heart of everybody in Israel (the elect, Israel is the elect as defined in Romans 9, the children of the promise) and his sins he remembers no more. The Word and the Lord’s Supper forgive the sins of believers alone, those that have faith or come to faith. Baptism, on the other hand, because it creates faith in all it forgives the sins of everybody that it is applied to. Baptism is the only means of grace in lutheran theology that cannot fail to create faith in all to whom water is applied. But not all that hear the Word come to faith, and not all that eat and drink the Lord’s Supper receive the forgiveness of sins (the grace of God) except the believer. But it is not so with baptism, where everybody that is baptized becomes a believer, baptism creates faith for, there is a universal promise attached to baptism that is not attached to either the Word preached (the gospel or the Word of Absolution) and the Lord’s Supper (that imparts grace solely on believers). And the gift of faith is the promise of the New Testament of Jeremiah 31:31-34 . You see it is not OK to teach that faith in the promises of the gospel saves, without teaching that faith itself is a promise of the gospel, God promises to give faith to his elect children in Jeremiah 31:31-34 which promises the new covenant. The promise of the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-43 is clearly for the elect alone. LCMS and WELS Lutherans have to be very careful, because the doctrine of universal objective justification, is in direct violation to the promise of the New Covenant of grace of Jeremiah 31 which is for the elect alone. Fortunately the doctrine of universal objective justification is subscribed to primarily by the elite leadership of the LCMS and WELS, rank and file lutherans do not believe it.

    A clear distinction has to be made between the means of grace. The written or spoken word and the lord’s supper bestow grace solely to believers, they strengthen the faith of believers (the Lord’s Supper), and they create faith in the elect alone (the preached word fails to convert most people). Baptism on the other hand bestows grace to all, all infants that are baptized come to faith and receive the forgiveness of sins.

    What is grace ? Grace is not that on the basis of Christ’s work on the cross the whole world has been declared righteous (the universal objective justification lie). Far from it, grace is in the New Testament when God in his mercy towards sinners gives them a new heart and their sins he remembers no more, i.e. grace is when God creates faith in a sinner and gives him life (the New Testament gospel of Jeremiah 31:31-34). And this God does solely for his elect.

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