Luther’s writings on vocation

I have been charged with putting together some curriculum on Luther’s writings on vocation. This teaching, of course, is scattered throughout his voluminous works, but I need to pull together some primary sources. My task is complicated by the habit of Luther scholars of referring to his works by volume and page number from his collected works, often the German edition, instead of by the title of his book or sermon. (Could Luther scholars agree not to do that, or, rather, to give the title of the work, as well as where it can be found in the collected works?)

Anyway, Frank Sonnek put me onto this sermon, which is a good example of what I am looking for and is available online. It’s Luther’s sermon on the NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, preached in Marburg in 1529. Here is a paragraph on vocation. I will also throw in a paragraph on the kingdom of Christ just because it is so beautiful and profound. Both quotes show Luther at his stylistic best:

Our foolishness consists in laying too much stress upon the show of works and when these do not glitter as something extraordinary we regard them as of no value; and poor fools that we are, we do not see that God has attached and bound this precious treasure, namely his Word, to such common works as filial obedience, external, domestic, or civil affairs, so as to include them in his order and command, which he wishes us to accept, the same as though he himself had appeared from heaven. What would you do if Christ himself with all the angels were visibly to descend, and command you in your home to sweep your house and wash the pans and kettles? How happy you would feel, and would not know how to act for joy, not for the work’s sake, but that you knew that thereby you were serving him, who is greater than heaven and earth. . . .

Therefore we are to regard the kingdom of Christ as a large, beautiful arch or vault which is everywhere over us, and covers and protects us against the wrath of God; yea, as a great, extended firmament which pure grace and forgiveness illuminate and so fill the world and all things, that all sin will hardly appear as a spark in comparison with the great, extended sea of light; and although sin may oppress, it cannot injure, but must disappear and vanish before grace.

Now let me ask for your help. What are some other Luther writings on vocation? “Freedom of the Christian,” of course. “Whether Soldiers Too Can Be Saved.” The catechisms. What else? What sermons and postils and commentaries? What is the source of the oft-quoted but seldom sourced quotation about how changing a baby’s diaper is a holier work than that of all the monks in all the monasteries?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://uest fws

    really the 3rd use of the law taught in article VI of the solid declaration of the formula of concord is EXACTLY about that. this sermon is in fact referenced there at that point in the confessions. this is exactly the reason why.

    can anyone here tell me how people came to erroneously understand that the 3rd use was about special instructions and guidance for christians on how to do spiritual pushups to become more sanctified? the 3rd use of the law is so exactly the very opposite of that!

    also can anyone fathom how anyone who claims a drop of scholarly skill can make the claim that Luther never taught the 3rd use of the law? it is right here in this sermon and it is also in his smallcald articles along with the augustana section on free will which he fully called his own personal confession. he did not put the label “3rd use” on these, but that is exactly what they are talking about. namely: that christians are to use the same law as pagans (ie the 2nd table) to guide them as to doing outward righteousness rather than imagine that there are some special rules or laws for them.

    also dr vieth, you will find something on this in the smalcald articles in the section on monasteries, where Luther again, using the 3rd use of the law, points people to ordinary vocations in life and the same profane law that also applies to pagans as well as christians.

    if anyone here wants to understand the 3rd use of the law better. there is no better place to start than to read this sermon of Luther that is referenced in the confessions to that end.

  • http://uest fws

    really the 3rd use of the law taught in article VI of the solid declaration of the formula of concord is EXACTLY about that. this sermon is in fact referenced there at that point in the confessions. this is exactly the reason why.

    can anyone here tell me how people came to erroneously understand that the 3rd use was about special instructions and guidance for christians on how to do spiritual pushups to become more sanctified? the 3rd use of the law is so exactly the very opposite of that!

    also can anyone fathom how anyone who claims a drop of scholarly skill can make the claim that Luther never taught the 3rd use of the law? it is right here in this sermon and it is also in his smallcald articles along with the augustana section on free will which he fully called his own personal confession. he did not put the label “3rd use” on these, but that is exactly what they are talking about. namely: that christians are to use the same law as pagans (ie the 2nd table) to guide them as to doing outward righteousness rather than imagine that there are some special rules or laws for them.

    also dr vieth, you will find something on this in the smalcald articles in the section on monasteries, where Luther again, using the 3rd use of the law, points people to ordinary vocations in life and the same profane law that also applies to pagans as well as christians.

    if anyone here wants to understand the 3rd use of the law better. there is no better place to start than to read this sermon of Luther that is referenced in the confessions to that end.

  • http://thesoberpeasant.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-was-that.html Rev. J Douthwaite

    Luther writes of vocation often when he writes about marriage. His treatise on “The Estate of Marriage” (AE vol. 45) has some stuff about changing diapers, for instance. Also, check his commentary on 1 Corinthians 7 – there is where he really talks about the married estate being “the most religious state of all” in contrast to celibacy. And, of course, it is peppered all through his Genesis lectures!

  • http://thesoberpeasant.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-was-that.html Rev. J Douthwaite

    Luther writes of vocation often when he writes about marriage. His treatise on “The Estate of Marriage” (AE vol. 45) has some stuff about changing diapers, for instance. Also, check his commentary on 1 Corinthians 7 – there is where he really talks about the married estate being “the most religious state of all” in contrast to celibacy. And, of course, it is peppered all through his Genesis lectures!

  • http://uest fws

    3rd use of the law= vocation. christians and pagans both do this. in the same outward way.

    vocation=mortification of the flesh and disciplining and subduing it in service to our neighbor.

    3rd use of the law=mortification of the flesh and disciplining and subduing it in service to our neighbor.

    vocation and third use of the law do NOT equal sanctification, fruit of faith/sanctification/repentence. why? these all proceed only from faith.

    “now then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

  • http://uest fws

    3rd use of the law= vocation. christians and pagans both do this. in the same outward way.

    vocation=mortification of the flesh and disciplining and subduing it in service to our neighbor.

    3rd use of the law=mortification of the flesh and disciplining and subduing it in service to our neighbor.

    vocation and third use of the law do NOT equal sanctification, fruit of faith/sanctification/repentence. why? these all proceed only from faith.

    “now then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

  • http://uest fws

    Dr Veith, do not neglect to take a look at the rest of the sermons that appear on that site. Luther does most of his best work, i am suspecting, on vocation, in his sermons.

  • http://uest fws

    Dr Veith, do not neglect to take a look at the rest of the sermons that appear on that site. Luther does most of his best work, i am suspecting, on vocation, in his sermons.

  • Dan Kempin

    I would pass this request along (if you have not already) to the reference staff at the two seminary libraries. Our holdings on Luther are the best in North America, and the librarians are very knowledgeable in sourcing and accessing them–especially getting to the material that is not translated into english.

  • Dan Kempin

    I would pass this request along (if you have not already) to the reference staff at the two seminary libraries. Our holdings on Luther are the best in North America, and the librarians are very knowledgeable in sourcing and accessing them–especially getting to the material that is not translated into english.

  • Larry

    You know I have read this before but one statement just leaped out to me, “…God has attached and bound this precious treasure, namely his Word, to such common works as filial obedience, external, domestic, or civil affairs”. Particularly, “…God has attached and bound this precious treasure, namely his Word”. That never jumped out to me many months/years ago until I started studying Luther, Sasse and Chemnitz on the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Because in that study you begin to see how Luther’s issue is the Word FOR REAL. Luther’s whole prayer at Marburg was that they stay “in the Word”. I know every Christian would nod yes to that but none do as Luther did and this is manifested in the sacraments in general and the Lord’s Supper in particular. It’s why the words of institution are so important standing as is, “…this is My body/blood…”. Too many take the “third law” route to get vocation going but it always falls flat and seems to pan out more or less Calvinistic/Arminian. Because they fail to have real sacraments they need another “push” and third use of the law becomes the de facto “sacrament” to motivate. But its not, its in the sacrament as a Gospel sacrament! It is to stay in the Word against and even to the offense of reason, affections and experiences – just the opposite of other protestant churches.

    So, that part of the quote in consideration of vocation really jumped out to me (God has attached and bound this precious treasure, namely his Word). I mean I’ve been very refreshed by the Lutheran doctrine of vocation before, even relieved and encouraged by it. And I could see to a degree its importance. But I never saw the weight per se of the issue concerning the Word. I never understood why Luther and Lutherans (those true to the sacrament) would say and encourage us to the true Lord’s Supper and say how it helps and aids us into our vocations and lifes. How we serve God via the neighbor. I could not make the connection, I just assumed, given my still proclivity to default to some old Baptistic/Reformed thinking, it ‘might happen some how’. But the link is the Word, that quote within the larger paragraphs that seems almost incidental to the rest, “…God has ATTACHED AND BOUND this precious treasure, NAMELY HIS WORD”. There’s the link! Because it’s the same issue with the sacrament of the alter, the Word (what Jesus attached to the elements, just like the water in baptism) is the thing! And in a similar fashion, though the sacraments are infinitely much more, the true Word takes the mundane and seemingly too inglorious things of earth and life for a Holy God and by the Word’s very infinite weight and treasureness (my made up word) makes them glorious (though they look very lowly!). I’m struggling expressing this succinctly but the connection for Luther, all his theology is the Word. No REALLY, he means THE WORD, he’s not just giving it lip service then on to more spiritual things! It’s no wonder Luther could laud so much that seemed so mundane. It’s no wonder he spoke in luxurious terms of the sacraments, and lauded mundane vocations like the milk maid milking the cow glorifying God, the Word is attached to that, and it is glorious because the Word is attached to the Sacraments from which we receive FOR REAL Christ for our sins. All of it is connected organically if you will, its not just a set of 1, 2, 3 doctrinal articles…but a functioning living organic whole.

    I need to ponder this more, I’m running out of ways to pull it together.

    Larry

  • Larry

    You know I have read this before but one statement just leaped out to me, “…God has attached and bound this precious treasure, namely his Word, to such common works as filial obedience, external, domestic, or civil affairs”. Particularly, “…God has attached and bound this precious treasure, namely his Word”. That never jumped out to me many months/years ago until I started studying Luther, Sasse and Chemnitz on the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Because in that study you begin to see how Luther’s issue is the Word FOR REAL. Luther’s whole prayer at Marburg was that they stay “in the Word”. I know every Christian would nod yes to that but none do as Luther did and this is manifested in the sacraments in general and the Lord’s Supper in particular. It’s why the words of institution are so important standing as is, “…this is My body/blood…”. Too many take the “third law” route to get vocation going but it always falls flat and seems to pan out more or less Calvinistic/Arminian. Because they fail to have real sacraments they need another “push” and third use of the law becomes the de facto “sacrament” to motivate. But its not, its in the sacrament as a Gospel sacrament! It is to stay in the Word against and even to the offense of reason, affections and experiences – just the opposite of other protestant churches.

    So, that part of the quote in consideration of vocation really jumped out to me (God has attached and bound this precious treasure, namely his Word). I mean I’ve been very refreshed by the Lutheran doctrine of vocation before, even relieved and encouraged by it. And I could see to a degree its importance. But I never saw the weight per se of the issue concerning the Word. I never understood why Luther and Lutherans (those true to the sacrament) would say and encourage us to the true Lord’s Supper and say how it helps and aids us into our vocations and lifes. How we serve God via the neighbor. I could not make the connection, I just assumed, given my still proclivity to default to some old Baptistic/Reformed thinking, it ‘might happen some how’. But the link is the Word, that quote within the larger paragraphs that seems almost incidental to the rest, “…God has ATTACHED AND BOUND this precious treasure, NAMELY HIS WORD”. There’s the link! Because it’s the same issue with the sacrament of the alter, the Word (what Jesus attached to the elements, just like the water in baptism) is the thing! And in a similar fashion, though the sacraments are infinitely much more, the true Word takes the mundane and seemingly too inglorious things of earth and life for a Holy God and by the Word’s very infinite weight and treasureness (my made up word) makes them glorious (though they look very lowly!). I’m struggling expressing this succinctly but the connection for Luther, all his theology is the Word. No REALLY, he means THE WORD, he’s not just giving it lip service then on to more spiritual things! It’s no wonder Luther could laud so much that seemed so mundane. It’s no wonder he spoke in luxurious terms of the sacraments, and lauded mundane vocations like the milk maid milking the cow glorifying God, the Word is attached to that, and it is glorious because the Word is attached to the Sacraments from which we receive FOR REAL Christ for our sins. All of it is connected organically if you will, its not just a set of 1, 2, 3 doctrinal articles…but a functioning living organic whole.

    I need to ponder this more, I’m running out of ways to pull it together.

    Larry

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Veith,
    I t doesn’t mention diapers, but the household chores of a servant girl, which would imply dirty diapers. I think the reference you may be looking for is from one of those rare Lutheran works that actually made it in as an official Confession of the Lutheran Faith, The Sermon on the Fourth Commandment, from the Large Catechism. Page 406, paragraph 145 of the Kolb/Wengert Edition.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Veith,
    I t doesn’t mention diapers, but the household chores of a servant girl, which would imply dirty diapers. I think the reference you may be looking for is from one of those rare Lutheran works that actually made it in as an official Confession of the Lutheran Faith, The Sermon on the Fourth Commandment, from the Large Catechism. Page 406, paragraph 145 of the Kolb/Wengert Edition.

  • John Tape

    Dr. Veith,
    You write, “My task is complicated by the habit of Luther scholars of referring to his works by volume and page number from his collected works, often the German edition, instead of by the title of his book or sermon. (Could Luther scholars agree not to do that, or, rather, to give the title of the work, as well as where it can be found in the collected works?)”
    May I suggest you get yourself a copy of Vogel’s Cross Reference to Luther’s Works published by Northwestern Publishing House: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1983. I have found it very helpful.

  • John Tape

    Dr. Veith,
    You write, “My task is complicated by the habit of Luther scholars of referring to his works by volume and page number from his collected works, often the German edition, instead of by the title of his book or sermon. (Could Luther scholars agree not to do that, or, rather, to give the title of the work, as well as where it can be found in the collected works?)”
    May I suggest you get yourself a copy of Vogel’s Cross Reference to Luther’s Works published by Northwestern Publishing House: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1983. I have found it very helpful.

  • http://uest fws

    #6 Larry

    please DO read this sermon!

    There is a reason this sermon is referenced in article VI of the FofC on The Third Use of the Law! This IS Luther´s own teaching. He just did not use the term 3rd use is all. In fact Luther cannot be understood in his distinction of Law and Gospel without understanding what he means with the third use of the law!

    You are right and I never thought of it the way you did profane thing+Word=holy thing in terms of our vocation. Larry, this is a GREAT point! However, this sermon and the 3rd use in article VI of the FofC are not talking about that specifically, Larry. What you talk about is under the category of “regeneration/sanctification/faith/repentance.” In contrast, this sermon is talking about the 3rd use of the Law/Will of God.

    The third use of the law is simply this:

    There is a unique use of the law, that is only for christians. This is called “the 3rd use of the law.”
    This third use informs christians that there is no unique use/purpose of the law only for christians.
    The third use points christians instead to the same mondane laws in vocation that pagans are told to keep.

    I know Larry that it sorta takes a Monty Python sense of humor and logic to appreciate what this just said. This is alot like the small catechism saying “i believe… that i cannot believe.”

    Reflection on the life of Our Lord is a reflection of what true outward righteousness looks like. It looks utterly unremarkable. it is indistiguishable from that of the pharisees and other righteous pagans.

    third use as Luther as it says: “The law curved vertically immediately becomes idolatry.”

  • http://uest fws

    #6 Larry

    please DO read this sermon!

    There is a reason this sermon is referenced in article VI of the FofC on The Third Use of the Law! This IS Luther´s own teaching. He just did not use the term 3rd use is all. In fact Luther cannot be understood in his distinction of Law and Gospel without understanding what he means with the third use of the law!

    You are right and I never thought of it the way you did profane thing+Word=holy thing in terms of our vocation. Larry, this is a GREAT point! However, this sermon and the 3rd use in article VI of the FofC are not talking about that specifically, Larry. What you talk about is under the category of “regeneration/sanctification/faith/repentance.” In contrast, this sermon is talking about the 3rd use of the Law/Will of God.

    The third use of the law is simply this:

    There is a unique use of the law, that is only for christians. This is called “the 3rd use of the law.”
    This third use informs christians that there is no unique use/purpose of the law only for christians.
    The third use points christians instead to the same mondane laws in vocation that pagans are told to keep.

    I know Larry that it sorta takes a Monty Python sense of humor and logic to appreciate what this just said. This is alot like the small catechism saying “i believe… that i cannot believe.”

    Reflection on the life of Our Lord is a reflection of what true outward righteousness looks like. It looks utterly unremarkable. it is indistiguishable from that of the pharisees and other righteous pagans.

    third use as Luther as it says: “The law curved vertically immediately becomes idolatry.”

  • JonSLC

    “Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings” (Augsburg 1993, ed. Barbara Owen) has a week on the subject of vocation. Here are the sources of the excerpts it includes (references are to the American Edition, volume and page):

    Treatise on “The Judgment of Martin Luther on Monastic Vows” (1521) LW 44, 269

    Sermon on “The Gospel for the Sunday after Christmas, Luke 2[:33-30]” (1522) LW 52, 124-25

    Lectures on Genesis (1538) LW 3, 69-70

    Commentary on “The Sermon on the Mount” (1532) LW 21, 20-21

    Sermons on the Gospel of St. John (1537) LW 24, 239-40

    I happen to have an extra copy of Vogel’s “Cross References”. If you find yourself in Utah anytime soon, swing by and it’s yours! (Or email me and I could send it — it would be kind of a “brush with greatness” for me, to play a small part in such a noble task!)

  • JonSLC

    “Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings” (Augsburg 1993, ed. Barbara Owen) has a week on the subject of vocation. Here are the sources of the excerpts it includes (references are to the American Edition, volume and page):

    Treatise on “The Judgment of Martin Luther on Monastic Vows” (1521) LW 44, 269

    Sermon on “The Gospel for the Sunday after Christmas, Luke 2[:33-30]” (1522) LW 52, 124-25

    Lectures on Genesis (1538) LW 3, 69-70

    Commentary on “The Sermon on the Mount” (1532) LW 21, 20-21

    Sermons on the Gospel of St. John (1537) LW 24, 239-40

    I happen to have an extra copy of Vogel’s “Cross References”. If you find yourself in Utah anytime soon, swing by and it’s yours! (Or email me and I could send it — it would be kind of a “brush with greatness” for me, to play a small part in such a noble task!)

  • jgernander

    I know it is written by Melanchthon, but the Augsburg Confession of course is considered Martin Luther’s teaching, so much so that Luther himself called it his own. So I would look first of all at AC XVI, XXVI:9-11, XXVII:15-17 & 49-51, along with Article XXIII and things it says about the estate of marriage, and the things Article XXVIII says about the role of secular rulers. And you probably meant this by mentioning the catechisms, but the mere existence of the oft-neglected Table of Duties in the small catechism says a lot about Luther on vocation.

    Pastor Jerry Gernander, Princeton MN (ELS)

  • jgernander

    I know it is written by Melanchthon, but the Augsburg Confession of course is considered Martin Luther’s teaching, so much so that Luther himself called it his own. So I would look first of all at AC XVI, XXVI:9-11, XXVII:15-17 & 49-51, along with Article XXIII and things it says about the estate of marriage, and the things Article XXVIII says about the role of secular rulers. And you probably meant this by mentioning the catechisms, but the mere existence of the oft-neglected Table of Duties in the small catechism says a lot about Luther on vocation.

    Pastor Jerry Gernander, Princeton MN (ELS)

  • http://uest fws

    #6 larry

    “All of it is connected organically if you will, its not just a set of 1, 2, 3 doctrinal articles…but a functioning living organic whole.”

    Yes! it IS The Word of God incarnate. example:

    sanctification=regeneration=new Will in us=God´s Will in Christ= Christ in his person=The Law=atonement=at.one.ment=christ dead on the cross.

    Organically, in the very person of Jesus, is comprehended law and gospel. Jesus IS both The Law and gospel.

    Jesus came and did the Law as only The Law incarnate could do and nothing but.

    In heaven there will be no Law and no Gospel. there will only be Christ. and his righteousness will emanate from us as light emanates from sun.

    The Law=God´s Will. Only God´s Will seen In Christ can give us faith and conform our will to God´s Will.

    God´s Will in Christ is the Gospel.

  • http://uest fws

    #6 larry

    “All of it is connected organically if you will, its not just a set of 1, 2, 3 doctrinal articles…but a functioning living organic whole.”

    Yes! it IS The Word of God incarnate. example:

    sanctification=regeneration=new Will in us=God´s Will in Christ= Christ in his person=The Law=atonement=at.one.ment=christ dead on the cross.

    Organically, in the very person of Jesus, is comprehended law and gospel. Jesus IS both The Law and gospel.

    Jesus came and did the Law as only The Law incarnate could do and nothing but.

    In heaven there will be no Law and no Gospel. there will only be Christ. and his righteousness will emanate from us as light emanates from sun.

    The Law=God´s Will. Only God´s Will seen In Christ can give us faith and conform our will to God´s Will.

    God´s Will in Christ is the Gospel.

  • http://uest fws

    #10 and #11

    These are all, along with the sermon referenced, Luther himself speaking on the topic of the Third Use of the Law.

    The fact that this term 3rd use was coined for this after Luther´s death does not change this as being fact.

  • http://uest fws

    #10 and #11

    These are all, along with the sermon referenced, Luther himself speaking on the topic of the Third Use of the Law.

    The fact that this term 3rd use was coined for this after Luther´s death does not change this as being fact.

  • http://uest fws

    Dr Vieth, ALL your writings on vocation are really just a contemporary amplication of what the confessors are driving at when they talk about the 3rd use of the law. agreed?

  • http://uest fws

    Dr Vieth, ALL your writings on vocation are really just a contemporary amplication of what the confessors are driving at when they talk about the 3rd use of the law. agreed?

  • Larry

    FWS,

    My issue with the “third use of the law”, and I don’t want to usurp this post by going into it further than this reply, is mainly two fold. First, Luther spoke of that use without using that term in which it receives lots of abuse. It’s the kingdom use in Luther’s language, the kingdom of forgiveness and the natural out come of being forgiven, the fruits of the Spirit. As such it’s not a “use” which we tend to employ for works, but a working out of that release the Gospel gives. It’s a, “Oh, you mean I REALLY CAN whole heartedly trust in Christ for me alone, nakedly, etc…so that now I can do this mundane baby diaper change and it’s what the commandment actually says, rather than me trying to save my own behind or prove that I’m saved or prove that I’m being sanctified or prove that I’m elected”.

    Second, it is constantly usurped by Calvinistic thinking that likes to hover around Luther and say, “See we think alike”. No we categorically do not. I understand that the term itself is innocent, kind of like the term “catholic”. I like the “third use” term when used appropriately but not when its implication is the push, motivation or energy for good works (e.g. Calvin, Baptist, etc.. and Calvinistic lutherans). I.e. when it indicates what good works are truly in the context of vocation as opposed to inventions of man and religion. There it serves its purpose and that is how Luther spoke of it, again the kingdom reality, the reality to what the Law points to ultimately not needing to be fulfilled. However, once the sacraments disappear, Calvin, et. al., and with that at length the Gospel (Sasse), the “third use” takes on an implied character not found in Luther at all. The third use then takes on the implied character of “yes it’s the Christian use but if you are not doing it/them, then, well, maybe you might not be a Christian, saved, reborn, elect, justified, sanctified, ad nausem…”

    There’s a difference the way Luther, IN THIS SERMON, encourages to good works and the way pretenders “encourage”, they think, to good works and its linked to the external reality of the sacraments. In short if you have the sacraments right, truly, then you will get the “third use” right if you wish to name it “third use”, a term Luther never used. Luther’s doctrine on this was not improved by employing that term, though it may be employed well. If you get the sacraments wrong, whether you are Calvinist, Baptist or anything, then you will necessarily misuse the name and concept of “third use” (as Calvin did).

    That being said, FWS, it does not appear that we disagree, I’m just being very clear having the background I’ve had on this issue and I KNOW first hand the bad religious experience it leads to.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • Larry

    FWS,

    My issue with the “third use of the law”, and I don’t want to usurp this post by going into it further than this reply, is mainly two fold. First, Luther spoke of that use without using that term in which it receives lots of abuse. It’s the kingdom use in Luther’s language, the kingdom of forgiveness and the natural out come of being forgiven, the fruits of the Spirit. As such it’s not a “use” which we tend to employ for works, but a working out of that release the Gospel gives. It’s a, “Oh, you mean I REALLY CAN whole heartedly trust in Christ for me alone, nakedly, etc…so that now I can do this mundane baby diaper change and it’s what the commandment actually says, rather than me trying to save my own behind or prove that I’m saved or prove that I’m being sanctified or prove that I’m elected”.

    Second, it is constantly usurped by Calvinistic thinking that likes to hover around Luther and say, “See we think alike”. No we categorically do not. I understand that the term itself is innocent, kind of like the term “catholic”. I like the “third use” term when used appropriately but not when its implication is the push, motivation or energy for good works (e.g. Calvin, Baptist, etc.. and Calvinistic lutherans). I.e. when it indicates what good works are truly in the context of vocation as opposed to inventions of man and religion. There it serves its purpose and that is how Luther spoke of it, again the kingdom reality, the reality to what the Law points to ultimately not needing to be fulfilled. However, once the sacraments disappear, Calvin, et. al., and with that at length the Gospel (Sasse), the “third use” takes on an implied character not found in Luther at all. The third use then takes on the implied character of “yes it’s the Christian use but if you are not doing it/them, then, well, maybe you might not be a Christian, saved, reborn, elect, justified, sanctified, ad nausem…”

    There’s a difference the way Luther, IN THIS SERMON, encourages to good works and the way pretenders “encourage”, they think, to good works and its linked to the external reality of the sacraments. In short if you have the sacraments right, truly, then you will get the “third use” right if you wish to name it “third use”, a term Luther never used. Luther’s doctrine on this was not improved by employing that term, though it may be employed well. If you get the sacraments wrong, whether you are Calvinist, Baptist or anything, then you will necessarily misuse the name and concept of “third use” (as Calvin did).

    That being said, FWS, it does not appear that we disagree, I’m just being very clear having the background I’ve had on this issue and I KNOW first hand the bad religious experience it leads to.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Luther’s Works, Volume 21, on the Sermon on the Mount.

    Sorry, this is long. I’ve typed it out before. Don’t know the pages.

    “What is needed here is the virtue called tolerance and the forgiveness of sins, by which one person bears with another, pardons him, and forgives him, as St. Paul teaches in beautiful words (Rom 15:1): ‘We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves.’ this is the same thing that Christ says here: ‘Judge not.’ there are some in Christendom whose gifts are greater and better, and there must be, especially among the preachers. But such people should not put on a superior air or take the attitude that they are better than those people who do not have these gifts. In the spiritual sphere, therefore, no one should lord it over others. Outwardly there ought to be some difference. A prince should have a higher and a better position than a peasant, a preacher should be more learned than an ordinary manual laborer. A lord cannot be a servant, a lady cannot be a maid. Yet in all these distinctions of position the hearts should have the same attitude and pay no attention to the dissimilarity. This happens when I make allowances for my neighbor, even though he may occupy a lower station and have fewer gifts than I. When he is a groom taking care of a horse, I am just as pleased with his work as with my own work when I preach or govern land or people, though my work is better and accomplishes more than his. I must not look at the outward masks we wear, but at the fact that he lives in the same faith and the same Christ as I, that he has grace, Baptism, and the Sacrament as much as I, though my work and my office are different and higher. For it is the same God (1 Cor. 12:6) accomplishing and giving all this. He is as pleased with the tiniest as with the very biggest.”

    A brief definition of “a sound tree that bears good fruit” is this: one who conducts his life, existence, and behavior according to the Word of God, pure and unadulterated…

    Thus the words “You will know them by their fruits” are set down as a distinguishing mark and a standard for judging and recognizing these prophets. If we are taken in, that is no one’s fault by our own… You may say: “all right, but how do I recognize these? they may fool me too.” Answer: You know what God’s commandments are. See whether they agree with them. I will guarantee that no schismatic spirit will come without making his own special mark and leaving a stench behind so that you can tell that the devil has been there. No false teaching or heresy has ever arisen without bringing along the distinguishing mark He points to here: that it has set forth works different from the ones which God has commanded and ordained. The world is seduced simply because it follows insane reason and leaves the Word of God lying under the bench. It does not notice what He commands, and meanwhile it stares at the masks in the hope of seeing something special.”

    Luther wants to make the point that any of these false preachers will set up rules/commands/works that are not commanded. They will always go beyond God’s word and ignore it, doing their own thing. This is their bad fruit: doing things they themselves invented to set themselves apart.

    “It all depends, therefore, on really knowing and maintaining the definition of what Christ calls good works or fruits: a good work is one that is required or commanded by the Word of God and proceeds on the basis of that commandment. So a wife who is pious and faithful in her marriage can claim and boast that her station is commanded by God, that it is supported by the true, pure, and unadulterated Word of God, and that it heartily pleases God. Hence her works are all good fruit… Since they despise the real fruit and works for their lack of any special show, He despises the rotten works that they undertake so ostentatiously in their presumption that they are improving on what He has done…

    If you measure them up against the commandment of God and ask whether God has commanded and required such works and whether they have served and benefited the neighbor, it is clear that they are valueless and only a hindrance to the genuine good fruit. The other stations, by contrast, put on no special outward appearance by glittering and glistening. Still they yield the finest and best fruit and are the most useful things on earth–but in the sight of God and of those who are illumined with spiritual vision so that they can see correctly and judge correctly… The regrettable thing is that this ghostly invention of the devil deceives and seduces even the sharpest mind that does not have the Word of God and a sound understanding. It follows its own supposition and devotion, and it imagines that if it find these pleasing, God must find them pleasing too. But this should be reversed so that I find pleasing what I hear is pleasing to Him, even though all of God’s stations have their annoyances and many bad people in them who corrupt this fruit, just the way the bad worms do.

    … The purpose of Christ’s saying is to comfort and strengthen people who are in the stations that conflict with the feelings and attitudes of reason–stations which have many annoyances and evil incidents in them so that people are taken aback and regard them as dangerous and as unsuitable for the service of God.

    Nothing but good fruit can come from the station that God has created and ordained, and from the man who works and lives in this station on the basis of the Word of God. With this you can now comfort your heart against thoughts like these: “Oh, it was this person or that who got me into this station. It causes me nothing but disgust and trouble.” I have often been tempted this way in connection with my own office, and still am. If it had not been for the Word of God, I would have stopped preaching a long time ago and would have said farewell to the world, the way the monks used to do. It is the devil himself doing this and making everyone’s station hard for him. Though God has assigned this office and work to us and is heartily pleased with it as the good fruit of a good heart, the devil so confuses foolish human reason that it fails to recognize this and thus destroys its own station and fruit. Because it does not see that this is a good tree and a good station, it is an obstacle to itself and therefore cannot yield good fruit.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Luther’s Works, Volume 21, on the Sermon on the Mount.

    Sorry, this is long. I’ve typed it out before. Don’t know the pages.

    “What is needed here is the virtue called tolerance and the forgiveness of sins, by which one person bears with another, pardons him, and forgives him, as St. Paul teaches in beautiful words (Rom 15:1): ‘We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves.’ this is the same thing that Christ says here: ‘Judge not.’ there are some in Christendom whose gifts are greater and better, and there must be, especially among the preachers. But such people should not put on a superior air or take the attitude that they are better than those people who do not have these gifts. In the spiritual sphere, therefore, no one should lord it over others. Outwardly there ought to be some difference. A prince should have a higher and a better position than a peasant, a preacher should be more learned than an ordinary manual laborer. A lord cannot be a servant, a lady cannot be a maid. Yet in all these distinctions of position the hearts should have the same attitude and pay no attention to the dissimilarity. This happens when I make allowances for my neighbor, even though he may occupy a lower station and have fewer gifts than I. When he is a groom taking care of a horse, I am just as pleased with his work as with my own work when I preach or govern land or people, though my work is better and accomplishes more than his. I must not look at the outward masks we wear, but at the fact that he lives in the same faith and the same Christ as I, that he has grace, Baptism, and the Sacrament as much as I, though my work and my office are different and higher. For it is the same God (1 Cor. 12:6) accomplishing and giving all this. He is as pleased with the tiniest as with the very biggest.”

    A brief definition of “a sound tree that bears good fruit” is this: one who conducts his life, existence, and behavior according to the Word of God, pure and unadulterated…

    Thus the words “You will know them by their fruits” are set down as a distinguishing mark and a standard for judging and recognizing these prophets. If we are taken in, that is no one’s fault by our own… You may say: “all right, but how do I recognize these? they may fool me too.” Answer: You know what God’s commandments are. See whether they agree with them. I will guarantee that no schismatic spirit will come without making his own special mark and leaving a stench behind so that you can tell that the devil has been there. No false teaching or heresy has ever arisen without bringing along the distinguishing mark He points to here: that it has set forth works different from the ones which God has commanded and ordained. The world is seduced simply because it follows insane reason and leaves the Word of God lying under the bench. It does not notice what He commands, and meanwhile it stares at the masks in the hope of seeing something special.”

    Luther wants to make the point that any of these false preachers will set up rules/commands/works that are not commanded. They will always go beyond God’s word and ignore it, doing their own thing. This is their bad fruit: doing things they themselves invented to set themselves apart.

    “It all depends, therefore, on really knowing and maintaining the definition of what Christ calls good works or fruits: a good work is one that is required or commanded by the Word of God and proceeds on the basis of that commandment. So a wife who is pious and faithful in her marriage can claim and boast that her station is commanded by God, that it is supported by the true, pure, and unadulterated Word of God, and that it heartily pleases God. Hence her works are all good fruit… Since they despise the real fruit and works for their lack of any special show, He despises the rotten works that they undertake so ostentatiously in their presumption that they are improving on what He has done…

    If you measure them up against the commandment of God and ask whether God has commanded and required such works and whether they have served and benefited the neighbor, it is clear that they are valueless and only a hindrance to the genuine good fruit. The other stations, by contrast, put on no special outward appearance by glittering and glistening. Still they yield the finest and best fruit and are the most useful things on earth–but in the sight of God and of those who are illumined with spiritual vision so that they can see correctly and judge correctly… The regrettable thing is that this ghostly invention of the devil deceives and seduces even the sharpest mind that does not have the Word of God and a sound understanding. It follows its own supposition and devotion, and it imagines that if it find these pleasing, God must find them pleasing too. But this should be reversed so that I find pleasing what I hear is pleasing to Him, even though all of God’s stations have their annoyances and many bad people in them who corrupt this fruit, just the way the bad worms do.

    … The purpose of Christ’s saying is to comfort and strengthen people who are in the stations that conflict with the feelings and attitudes of reason–stations which have many annoyances and evil incidents in them so that people are taken aback and regard them as dangerous and as unsuitable for the service of God.

    Nothing but good fruit can come from the station that God has created and ordained, and from the man who works and lives in this station on the basis of the Word of God. With this you can now comfort your heart against thoughts like these: “Oh, it was this person or that who got me into this station. It causes me nothing but disgust and trouble.” I have often been tempted this way in connection with my own office, and still am. If it had not been for the Word of God, I would have stopped preaching a long time ago and would have said farewell to the world, the way the monks used to do. It is the devil himself doing this and making everyone’s station hard for him. Though God has assigned this office and work to us and is heartily pleased with it as the good fruit of a good heart, the devil so confuses foolish human reason that it fails to recognize this and thus destroys its own station and fruit. Because it does not see that this is a good tree and a good station, it is an obstacle to itself and therefore cannot yield good fruit.

  • Tim Pauls

    From Luther’s House Postil (Citation at the End), including the classic comparison of calling to a bunny dance:

    I myself must confess, if I were to bare my heart, that the same thought has come to me, Oh, why did not the Lord God raise up someone else to be preacher to the German people? Because the lukewarm spirit is so great, the work too much, the maliciousness and thanklessness of the people so overwhelming, that flesh and blood can scarcely tolerate it but becomes morose and impatient, ready to chuck it and be free of it once for all.

    A young woman, unaware of the problems connected with wedlock, is not satisfied until she is married and has her man. Likewise, a young fellow is not satisfied until he has a wife. But once they are married, and she has her man and he has his woman, they would like to be out of it and free again. Similarly, the average citizen isn’t satisfied with his calling, but thinks: My, I would like to be mayor. But if that happens and he becomes mayor, inheriting the stress, the work, and the trouble, then he says, To the devil with this position! I’m ready to chuck it. That’s what it means to have an office. To be on top is no frolic or bunny dance. It entails work and stress, so that no one in his right mind would actively seek it.

    …That is why each should be content with his station in life, carry out his duties with diligence, being useful to his fellowmen. For God is pleased with those who are content with their calling in life and faithfully carry out their duties. Let a young lad study diligently until our Lord God elevates him and directs him: You have studied long enough now to become a schoolteacher, perhaps even a preacher! If this were our attitude, each would say, I desire no honor, but I wish to be useful to God; I will follow his direction to do what I can to glorify him and be of service to my neighbor. (House Postil III:47-48, 2nd Sermon for 17 Trinity, ¶11,12,15)

  • Tim Pauls

    From Luther’s House Postil (Citation at the End), including the classic comparison of calling to a bunny dance:

    I myself must confess, if I were to bare my heart, that the same thought has come to me, Oh, why did not the Lord God raise up someone else to be preacher to the German people? Because the lukewarm spirit is so great, the work too much, the maliciousness and thanklessness of the people so overwhelming, that flesh and blood can scarcely tolerate it but becomes morose and impatient, ready to chuck it and be free of it once for all.

    A young woman, unaware of the problems connected with wedlock, is not satisfied until she is married and has her man. Likewise, a young fellow is not satisfied until he has a wife. But once they are married, and she has her man and he has his woman, they would like to be out of it and free again. Similarly, the average citizen isn’t satisfied with his calling, but thinks: My, I would like to be mayor. But if that happens and he becomes mayor, inheriting the stress, the work, and the trouble, then he says, To the devil with this position! I’m ready to chuck it. That’s what it means to have an office. To be on top is no frolic or bunny dance. It entails work and stress, so that no one in his right mind would actively seek it.

    …That is why each should be content with his station in life, carry out his duties with diligence, being useful to his fellowmen. For God is pleased with those who are content with their calling in life and faithfully carry out their duties. Let a young lad study diligently until our Lord God elevates him and directs him: You have studied long enough now to become a schoolteacher, perhaps even a preacher! If this were our attitude, each would say, I desire no honor, but I wish to be useful to God; I will follow his direction to do what I can to glorify him and be of service to my neighbor. (House Postil III:47-48, 2nd Sermon for 17 Trinity, ¶11,12,15)

  • Larry

    Brigitte & Tim,

    Very good, very helpful.

    Larry

  • Larry

    Brigitte & Tim,

    Very good, very helpful.

    Larry

  • Andy

    I may have missed it but I didn’t see anyone mention “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation” or “Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should be Obeyed”. The third part of his “Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper” also has a small but excellent section on vocation.

  • Andy

    I may have missed it but I didn’t see anyone mention “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation” or “Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should be Obeyed”. The third part of his “Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper” also has a small but excellent section on vocation.

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    Thanks, everyone! This is very helpful.

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    Thanks, everyone! This is very helpful.

  • Tom Rank

    A rich resource would be the Genesis commentary — but its eight volumes. Much on marriage. I don’t have any specific instances in mind. Although I seem to recall that the Jacob working for Laban chapter could be helpful.

  • Tom Rank

    A rich resource would be the Genesis commentary — but its eight volumes. Much on marriage. I don’t have any specific instances in mind. Although I seem to recall that the Jacob working for Laban chapter could be helpful.

  • http://uest fws

    #15 Larry

    “[the third use is] the kingdom use in Luther’s language, the kingdom of forgiveness and the natural out come of being forgiven, the fruits of the Spirit. ”

    No Larry. it is so not that. not even in Luther´s sermon. You have things exactly reversed here! REVERSED! Just how did you manage to do that dear brother??!! Luther says nothing of the kind in his sermon. He says the very opposite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What you describe is inner ( and so invisible) “regeneration”. This is about faith and so about the Gospel. Works are UTTERLY excluded in this kind of righteousness of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not “3rd use of the LAW”.

    The third use is about law only. It is , to be more theologically specific, about mortification of the Flesh, about subduing and disciplining the flesh and killing it so that we can serve ourselves and our neighbors. This does not require one ounce of faith. This is not therefore properly speaking “christians”. righteous pagans do exactly the same thing using exactly the same means, motives and methods. It says nothing at all about faith. Therefore, especially, it says nothing about being a christian. There is no such thing as “christian good works”. This is pure oxymoron. Works do not make us christian. Works are not “christian” just because a christian is doing them. It is ONLY about outward, external earthly righteousness Larry , the “earthly Kingdom”. It is all and only about works. faith here is totally unnecessary.

    The third use says there is nothing a christian does outwardly that looks one bit different from what a pagan does. this is law law law law law… you are thinking 3rd use is about Gospel. no. no. no.

    Larry. I understand what you are saying about your evangelical background and how evangelicals latch onto this. Calvin used the term “real presence” as well didn´t he? and he did NOT believe in that.

    But. But. read article VI of the FofC. read THIS sermon precisely because the men who wrote article VI say they plagarized THEIR stuff from LUTHER`S stuff in this sermon. that is why the reference it here, in their article on the 3rd use.

    When you try to tell me what the Lutheran Confessions and Luther call 3rd use, please quote from Luther or the Confessions! Don´t get all confused by other writers. they do not have a clue what they are talking about! Make me do exactly the same thing I am demanding of you to do!

  • http://uest fws

    #15 Larry

    “[the third use is] the kingdom use in Luther’s language, the kingdom of forgiveness and the natural out come of being forgiven, the fruits of the Spirit. ”

    No Larry. it is so not that. not even in Luther´s sermon. You have things exactly reversed here! REVERSED! Just how did you manage to do that dear brother??!! Luther says nothing of the kind in his sermon. He says the very opposite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What you describe is inner ( and so invisible) “regeneration”. This is about faith and so about the Gospel. Works are UTTERLY excluded in this kind of righteousness of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not “3rd use of the LAW”.

    The third use is about law only. It is , to be more theologically specific, about mortification of the Flesh, about subduing and disciplining the flesh and killing it so that we can serve ourselves and our neighbors. This does not require one ounce of faith. This is not therefore properly speaking “christians”. righteous pagans do exactly the same thing using exactly the same means, motives and methods. It says nothing at all about faith. Therefore, especially, it says nothing about being a christian. There is no such thing as “christian good works”. This is pure oxymoron. Works do not make us christian. Works are not “christian” just because a christian is doing them. It is ONLY about outward, external earthly righteousness Larry , the “earthly Kingdom”. It is all and only about works. faith here is totally unnecessary.

    The third use says there is nothing a christian does outwardly that looks one bit different from what a pagan does. this is law law law law law… you are thinking 3rd use is about Gospel. no. no. no.

    Larry. I understand what you are saying about your evangelical background and how evangelicals latch onto this. Calvin used the term “real presence” as well didn´t he? and he did NOT believe in that.

    But. But. read article VI of the FofC. read THIS sermon precisely because the men who wrote article VI say they plagarized THEIR stuff from LUTHER`S stuff in this sermon. that is why the reference it here, in their article on the 3rd use.

    When you try to tell me what the Lutheran Confessions and Luther call 3rd use, please quote from Luther or the Confessions! Don´t get all confused by other writers. they do not have a clue what they are talking about! Make me do exactly the same thing I am demanding of you to do!

  • Larry

    FWS,

    You so do not understand me at all. This is why the term, which Luther NEVER employed, especially in our day and age permeated by Calvinism on the right, Arminianism on the left and Rome behind us, is so very dangerous…and I repeat the term does NOT improve upon Luther on this in the least.

    “Larry. I understand what you are saying about your evangelical background and how evangelicals latch onto this.”

    No I don’t think you do. If you wish to learn Calvinism speak to someone, it doesn’t have to be me, who lived it, who lived and not just confessed it, but lived the doctrine confessed and not just an academician who will spend time apologizing for Calvin attempting to bend him into the shape of Luther and in the process pulling Luther over to Calvin.

    “The third use is about law only. It is, to be more theologically specific, about mortification of the Flesh, about subduing and disciplining the flesh and killing it so that we can serve ourselves and our neighbors. This does not require one ounce of faith.”

    You see this right here, what you said, is specifically Calvin. In fact it’s John Owen Calvinism who wrote an entire tome on the issue, the mortification of the flesh. This is how Calvin and in particular the Puritan branch of it, I know I lived it, employ the “third use of the law”. This is where you miss the point of faith even in the “third use” of the Law. For the ENTIRE action is sin, even the mortification of the flesh. For as Luther said (my paraphrase from memory –ldh), merely employing Paul (Scripture), without the Word (Gospel) there can be no faith and where there is no faith ALL is sin. It matters little as to it’s outward appearance. Thus, to even mortify the flesh in this fashion is sin. And no, zero service to neighbor can be given without faith. It requires nothing less than faith to serve the neighbor. Because it is this very faith that so nakedly passively rests in Christ alone that now has the strength and ammunition to say, “yes indeed when even I sleep, eat or walk I please God because of Christ”. This is what Luther stated when he stated in his treatise on good works that faith really doesn’t distinguish them. Because the new man created by that faith is now in harmony for the sake of Christ to that which the Law pointed to. He’s not fulfilling the Law, it is already fulfilled by Christ, freed now he flows with it and not under it. The third use, a poor term in my opinion, now identifies against pietism that even the simple and mundane are even good works and allows one to identify from high flying spirits those “more spiritual things”, so they think. In this way we now can truly serve the neighbor. For to “serve the neighbor” as you say in “mortifying the flesh” is really to NOT serve the neighbor but the self (sin), and so according to your concept to put it frankly, “I will mortify my flesh to better myself even if I have to ram my good works down my neighbor’s throat and pretend its serving my neighbor”. Which is really all pagan do gooders, who are faithless, do!

    “This is not therefore properly speaking “christians”. righteous pagans do exactly the same thing using exactly the same means, motives and methods. It says nothing at all about faith. Therefore, especially, it says nothing about being a christian. There is no such thing as “christian good works”. This is pure oxymoron. Works do not make us christian. Works are not “christian” just because a christian is doing them. It is ONLY about outward, external earthly righteousness Larry , the “earthly Kingdom”. It is all and only about works. faith here is totally unnecessary.”

    Which is why there is ZERO difference functionally between “third use” and civil use as you describe them.

    “The third use says there is nothing a christian does outwardly that looks one bit different from what a pagan does. this is law law law law law… you are thinking 3rd use is about Gospel. no. no. no.”

    No I am not.

    “Calvin used the term “real presence” as well didn´t he? and he did NOT believe in that.”

    But it was not about the “real presence” but the presence specifically of the body and blood of Christ.

    “When you try to tell me what the Lutheran Confessions and Luther call 3rd use, please quote from Luther or the Confessions! Don´t get all confused by other writers. they do not have a clue what they are talking about! Make me do exactly the same thing I am demanding of you to do!”

    I’m not quoting other men. I generally speak from my thinking. When I quote I will say so explicitly to give recognition. And the reason I like speaking from my own thoughts is not to elevate them above others but it is a more honest way of speaking. I learned this when among evangelicals who would quote scripture and spit it back out against you on issues (e.g. the sacraments). They only quote to “give authority” to their secret doctrine in the background. And so all you end up getting into is a quote battle with no doctrinal explanations. Not that Scripture is bad at ALL, it is in fact God’s Word, but Luther recognized this trick of the devil for even the devil quotes the Scriptures and misuses them to authorize his lies. Much more even the confessions which are good and scriptural, we recognize this in principle. Yet they too may be misused. I believe it was Luther who said, “If they use Scripture against us, we will use Christ against the Scriptures”. Now one has to understand what Luther meant when he said that, he did not devalue the Scriptures, no to the contrary, he was reasserting their true value and authority against the false users. So generally I will speak from thoughts so nothing is hidden and all is explained, I will not get into a quote battle of Scripture or confessions and use them sparingly when I do.

    Larry

  • Larry

    FWS,

    You so do not understand me at all. This is why the term, which Luther NEVER employed, especially in our day and age permeated by Calvinism on the right, Arminianism on the left and Rome behind us, is so very dangerous…and I repeat the term does NOT improve upon Luther on this in the least.

    “Larry. I understand what you are saying about your evangelical background and how evangelicals latch onto this.”

    No I don’t think you do. If you wish to learn Calvinism speak to someone, it doesn’t have to be me, who lived it, who lived and not just confessed it, but lived the doctrine confessed and not just an academician who will spend time apologizing for Calvin attempting to bend him into the shape of Luther and in the process pulling Luther over to Calvin.

    “The third use is about law only. It is, to be more theologically specific, about mortification of the Flesh, about subduing and disciplining the flesh and killing it so that we can serve ourselves and our neighbors. This does not require one ounce of faith.”

    You see this right here, what you said, is specifically Calvin. In fact it’s John Owen Calvinism who wrote an entire tome on the issue, the mortification of the flesh. This is how Calvin and in particular the Puritan branch of it, I know I lived it, employ the “third use of the law”. This is where you miss the point of faith even in the “third use” of the Law. For the ENTIRE action is sin, even the mortification of the flesh. For as Luther said (my paraphrase from memory –ldh), merely employing Paul (Scripture), without the Word (Gospel) there can be no faith and where there is no faith ALL is sin. It matters little as to it’s outward appearance. Thus, to even mortify the flesh in this fashion is sin. And no, zero service to neighbor can be given without faith. It requires nothing less than faith to serve the neighbor. Because it is this very faith that so nakedly passively rests in Christ alone that now has the strength and ammunition to say, “yes indeed when even I sleep, eat or walk I please God because of Christ”. This is what Luther stated when he stated in his treatise on good works that faith really doesn’t distinguish them. Because the new man created by that faith is now in harmony for the sake of Christ to that which the Law pointed to. He’s not fulfilling the Law, it is already fulfilled by Christ, freed now he flows with it and not under it. The third use, a poor term in my opinion, now identifies against pietism that even the simple and mundane are even good works and allows one to identify from high flying spirits those “more spiritual things”, so they think. In this way we now can truly serve the neighbor. For to “serve the neighbor” as you say in “mortifying the flesh” is really to NOT serve the neighbor but the self (sin), and so according to your concept to put it frankly, “I will mortify my flesh to better myself even if I have to ram my good works down my neighbor’s throat and pretend its serving my neighbor”. Which is really all pagan do gooders, who are faithless, do!

    “This is not therefore properly speaking “christians”. righteous pagans do exactly the same thing using exactly the same means, motives and methods. It says nothing at all about faith. Therefore, especially, it says nothing about being a christian. There is no such thing as “christian good works”. This is pure oxymoron. Works do not make us christian. Works are not “christian” just because a christian is doing them. It is ONLY about outward, external earthly righteousness Larry , the “earthly Kingdom”. It is all and only about works. faith here is totally unnecessary.”

    Which is why there is ZERO difference functionally between “third use” and civil use as you describe them.

    “The third use says there is nothing a christian does outwardly that looks one bit different from what a pagan does. this is law law law law law… you are thinking 3rd use is about Gospel. no. no. no.”

    No I am not.

    “Calvin used the term “real presence” as well didn´t he? and he did NOT believe in that.”

    But it was not about the “real presence” but the presence specifically of the body and blood of Christ.

    “When you try to tell me what the Lutheran Confessions and Luther call 3rd use, please quote from Luther or the Confessions! Don´t get all confused by other writers. they do not have a clue what they are talking about! Make me do exactly the same thing I am demanding of you to do!”

    I’m not quoting other men. I generally speak from my thinking. When I quote I will say so explicitly to give recognition. And the reason I like speaking from my own thoughts is not to elevate them above others but it is a more honest way of speaking. I learned this when among evangelicals who would quote scripture and spit it back out against you on issues (e.g. the sacraments). They only quote to “give authority” to their secret doctrine in the background. And so all you end up getting into is a quote battle with no doctrinal explanations. Not that Scripture is bad at ALL, it is in fact God’s Word, but Luther recognized this trick of the devil for even the devil quotes the Scriptures and misuses them to authorize his lies. Much more even the confessions which are good and scriptural, we recognize this in principle. Yet they too may be misused. I believe it was Luther who said, “If they use Scripture against us, we will use Christ against the Scriptures”. Now one has to understand what Luther meant when he said that, he did not devalue the Scriptures, no to the contrary, he was reasserting their true value and authority against the false users. So generally I will speak from thoughts so nothing is hidden and all is explained, I will not get into a quote battle of Scripture or confessions and use them sparingly when I do.

    Larry

  • Tim Pauls

    Here’s one more I stumbled across this morning, in Luther’s Commentary on Romans 7:

    “Hence many people who love piety, prayers, studies, readings, devotions, meditations, and other good works as if these things were the best and alone pleasing to God, are really lost, for they murmur and grow angry if they are called to some lesser service….

    “The devil in this way disturbs every mind, in order that he may make void the calling of every person and to tempt him by seducing him to that for which he has not been called, as if God were a fool and did not know where He wished to call a person. Thus the devil is always fighting against the wisdom of God and trying to make God appear foolish in our eyes, so that he might lead us away into idolatry by trumping up the idea that God wills that which He does not will. These ideas are surely the idols of the house of Israel, now erected on all the street corners throughout all Jerusalem.”
    AE 25:337-338

  • Tim Pauls

    Here’s one more I stumbled across this morning, in Luther’s Commentary on Romans 7:

    “Hence many people who love piety, prayers, studies, readings, devotions, meditations, and other good works as if these things were the best and alone pleasing to God, are really lost, for they murmur and grow angry if they are called to some lesser service….

    “The devil in this way disturbs every mind, in order that he may make void the calling of every person and to tempt him by seducing him to that for which he has not been called, as if God were a fool and did not know where He wished to call a person. Thus the devil is always fighting against the wisdom of God and trying to make God appear foolish in our eyes, so that he might lead us away into idolatry by trumping up the idea that God wills that which He does not will. These ideas are surely the idols of the house of Israel, now erected on all the street corners throughout all Jerusalem.”
    AE 25:337-338

  • http://uest fws

    #23 Larry

    You so do not understand me at all.

    ok. then I need to appologize if I mischaracterized your words. Let´s slow down , back up, and see if we can both do better. I am fairly certain you missed all of what I said as well. :)

    If I understand you right, you defined the 3rd use of the LAW thussly in your post #15:

    ” It’s [the 3rd use when spoken of by Luther] the kingdom use in Luther’s language, the kingdom of forgiveness and the natural out come of being forgiven, the fruits of the Spirit. As such it’s not a “use” which we tend to employ for works, but a working out of that release the Gospel gives. ”

    Observations:

    1)What you described above is called “regeneration” by st paul, Luther, and the confessions. This can only be increased by hearing the Gospel is about inner faith and excludes all works. It looks like you disagree with paul, luther and the confessions here.

    2) You are asserting that that thing or point of doctrine labeled “kingdom” by luther and labelled “3rd use of the LAW” by the Lutheran confessors, is not Law at all. it is gospel. But , you say, Luther and the confessions CALL this “gospel” law is what you just said.

    How could I take this any other way Larry? Am I understanding you so far?

    Did you actually carefully read the sermon veith references here?

  • http://uest fws

    #23 Larry

    You so do not understand me at all.

    ok. then I need to appologize if I mischaracterized your words. Let´s slow down , back up, and see if we can both do better. I am fairly certain you missed all of what I said as well. :)

    If I understand you right, you defined the 3rd use of the LAW thussly in your post #15:

    ” It’s [the 3rd use when spoken of by Luther] the kingdom use in Luther’s language, the kingdom of forgiveness and the natural out come of being forgiven, the fruits of the Spirit. As such it’s not a “use” which we tend to employ for works, but a working out of that release the Gospel gives. ”

    Observations:

    1)What you described above is called “regeneration” by st paul, Luther, and the confessions. This can only be increased by hearing the Gospel is about inner faith and excludes all works. It looks like you disagree with paul, luther and the confessions here.

    2) You are asserting that that thing or point of doctrine labeled “kingdom” by luther and labelled “3rd use of the LAW” by the Lutheran confessors, is not Law at all. it is gospel. But , you say, Luther and the confessions CALL this “gospel” law is what you just said.

    How could I take this any other way Larry? Am I understanding you so far?

    Did you actually carefully read the sermon veith references here?

  • Larry

    FWS,

    “You are asserting that that thing or point of doctrine labeled “kingdom” by luther and labelled “3rd use of the LAW” by the Lutheran confessors, is not Law at all. it is gospel.”

    No you are not understanding still. I am not calling it Gospel at all, on which I’ve been crystal clear. That’s why I stated what Luther and Paul state that all apart from faith is sin and faith comes about only by the Word. Thus, “mortifying the flesh” as you stated is sin for even the unbelieving pagans do this. What the Gospel releases a man to do is arrive at, imperfectly in this life, perfectly in eternity is what the Law always HAS been pointing to (which is why Luther never bothered using or making up a “third use” term for the law – its utterly unnecessary, but rather describes what the Word prescribes). So being released from the Law by the Gospel, which fulfills is, one is no longer “under the Law” but to be in concert/harmony with, not to fulfill the Law or make up the difference, but freed by the fulfillment of it (the law no longer demands). This is contra Calvin’s concept of the kingdom coming and to come, AND his concept of eternity before creation in which the Gospel is simply a means to serve the Law. And thus Calvin states the third use is like whip to move our slothful flesh. Yet Luther does not speak this way, the Gospel frees so that NOW one can, again imperfectly in this life, do good works. The law no longer requires and now one is free by the Gospel. So that the third use, if we must insist upon the term rather than looking at the principle (Luther and Paul), becomes a way whereby we can now check false teachers add false laws and works (as Bridgette posted, very nice I might add).

    Not to “mortify” the flesh outside of faith which is utter nonesense since all outside of faith is NOTHING BUT flesh and sin. To “mortify the flesh” outside of faith is like saying “let flesh kill itself by making itself all the more lively and stronger”, the sum total of which is stronger flesh than before or as Christ said of the Pharisees converts, “twice the sons of hell”.

    I hope that helps,

    Larry

  • Larry

    FWS,

    “You are asserting that that thing or point of doctrine labeled “kingdom” by luther and labelled “3rd use of the LAW” by the Lutheran confessors, is not Law at all. it is gospel.”

    No you are not understanding still. I am not calling it Gospel at all, on which I’ve been crystal clear. That’s why I stated what Luther and Paul state that all apart from faith is sin and faith comes about only by the Word. Thus, “mortifying the flesh” as you stated is sin for even the unbelieving pagans do this. What the Gospel releases a man to do is arrive at, imperfectly in this life, perfectly in eternity is what the Law always HAS been pointing to (which is why Luther never bothered using or making up a “third use” term for the law – its utterly unnecessary, but rather describes what the Word prescribes). So being released from the Law by the Gospel, which fulfills is, one is no longer “under the Law” but to be in concert/harmony with, not to fulfill the Law or make up the difference, but freed by the fulfillment of it (the law no longer demands). This is contra Calvin’s concept of the kingdom coming and to come, AND his concept of eternity before creation in which the Gospel is simply a means to serve the Law. And thus Calvin states the third use is like whip to move our slothful flesh. Yet Luther does not speak this way, the Gospel frees so that NOW one can, again imperfectly in this life, do good works. The law no longer requires and now one is free by the Gospel. So that the third use, if we must insist upon the term rather than looking at the principle (Luther and Paul), becomes a way whereby we can now check false teachers add false laws and works (as Bridgette posted, very nice I might add).

    Not to “mortify” the flesh outside of faith which is utter nonesense since all outside of faith is NOTHING BUT flesh and sin. To “mortify the flesh” outside of faith is like saying “let flesh kill itself by making itself all the more lively and stronger”, the sum total of which is stronger flesh than before or as Christ said of the Pharisees converts, “twice the sons of hell”.

    I hope that helps,

    Larry

  • Larry

    Tim,

    That’s a great quote.

    Larry

  • Larry

    Tim,

    That’s a great quote.

    Larry

  • http://uest fws

    #26 larry

    “That’s why I stated what Luther and Paul state that all apart from faith is sin and faith comes about only by the Word. Thus, “mortifying the flesh” as you stated is sin for even the unbelieving pagans do this.”

    Larry. “whatsoever is not of faith is sin. ” This is about inner righteousness of faith. This IS clear Larry, but that is not what I quoted you as saying is it?

    I am saying there is no OUTWARD difference between the good works of a pagan and those of a christian. Are you arguing that this is not true?

    what you say about there not being two kinds if righteousness, inward and outward, or not being able to correctly speak thusly, is simply an overstatement and so an error. In full view of what, I think we do agree upon as fact.

    “your righteousness must exceed that of the pharisees”. you are saying here that Jesus made airquotes with his fingers around that word righteousness when he said this. You are wrong on this IF you are saying that.

  • http://uest fws

    #26 larry

    “That’s why I stated what Luther and Paul state that all apart from faith is sin and faith comes about only by the Word. Thus, “mortifying the flesh” as you stated is sin for even the unbelieving pagans do this.”

    Larry. “whatsoever is not of faith is sin. ” This is about inner righteousness of faith. This IS clear Larry, but that is not what I quoted you as saying is it?

    I am saying there is no OUTWARD difference between the good works of a pagan and those of a christian. Are you arguing that this is not true?

    what you say about there not being two kinds if righteousness, inward and outward, or not being able to correctly speak thusly, is simply an overstatement and so an error. In full view of what, I think we do agree upon as fact.

    “your righteousness must exceed that of the pharisees”. you are saying here that Jesus made airquotes with his fingers around that word righteousness when he said this. You are wrong on this IF you are saying that.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    “your righteousness must exceed that of the pharisees”

    (What AM I DOING reading all this and not sweeping and cleaning kettles???)

    Jesus was critical of the “civil righteousness” of Pharisees. They did not do as they preached and they abused the law to justify things that were immoral, and still thought they were guiding lights and liked to be seen as such. With this they oppressed the people. They are the example of the “bad fruit”. Jesus goes on and on about it.

    So if they were perceived by the people as the pinnacle of “righteous” behavior, hello, everybody!–they are not! They had NO kind of righteousness. I vote for “airquotes”.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    “your righteousness must exceed that of the pharisees”

    (What AM I DOING reading all this and not sweeping and cleaning kettles???)

    Jesus was critical of the “civil righteousness” of Pharisees. They did not do as they preached and they abused the law to justify things that were immoral, and still thought they were guiding lights and liked to be seen as such. With this they oppressed the people. They are the example of the “bad fruit”. Jesus goes on and on about it.

    So if they were perceived by the people as the pinnacle of “righteous” behavior, hello, everybody!–they are not! They had NO kind of righteousness. I vote for “airquotes”.

  • http://uest fws

    #29 briggite

    true that all outward works flawed by sin merit eternal punishment.

    they also merit temporal reward. they are providenced by God for our good. indeed the first article gifts are all providenced for us, by God using: the works that God forces out of man with the carrot and sticks of the law. dont neglect to reflect on that carrot part. law is not just stick. and this is about vocation. it requires zero faith. zero holy spirit. free will can do this. will power.

    outward good works, even though they cannot save and we should not put our trust in them for that, should be encouraged and praised. and yes, airquotes are always appropriate when talking about the outward good works of anyone. and that includes us christians. yet we must not, with that, obscure the fact that outward righteousness pleases God , and is his Will that men should do them.

    as soon as works take a vertical turn they become idolatry. good works are for our neighbor and our pagan neigbors good works are for us.

    There ARE two kinds of righeousness.

    the righteousness that is far higher, is an inner righteousness, one that comes through faith. works, even our sanctified best works should be excluded here. the difference is in the doer not in the done. because they are fully included in that first kind of outward righteousness. will power and trying harder here is more than futile. it is the enemy of that new will God puts into us in the new birth.

    read Luthers sermon that dr vieth references here. he will break all this down for you.

    the Lords Pleace be with you!

  • http://uest fws

    #29 briggite

    true that all outward works flawed by sin merit eternal punishment.

    they also merit temporal reward. they are providenced by God for our good. indeed the first article gifts are all providenced for us, by God using: the works that God forces out of man with the carrot and sticks of the law. dont neglect to reflect on that carrot part. law is not just stick. and this is about vocation. it requires zero faith. zero holy spirit. free will can do this. will power.

    outward good works, even though they cannot save and we should not put our trust in them for that, should be encouraged and praised. and yes, airquotes are always appropriate when talking about the outward good works of anyone. and that includes us christians. yet we must not, with that, obscure the fact that outward righteousness pleases God , and is his Will that men should do them.

    as soon as works take a vertical turn they become idolatry. good works are for our neighbor and our pagan neigbors good works are for us.

    There ARE two kinds of righeousness.

    the righteousness that is far higher, is an inner righteousness, one that comes through faith. works, even our sanctified best works should be excluded here. the difference is in the doer not in the done. because they are fully included in that first kind of outward righteousness. will power and trying harder here is more than futile. it is the enemy of that new will God puts into us in the new birth.

    read Luthers sermon that dr vieth references here. he will break all this down for you.

    the Lords Pleace be with you!

  • http://uest fws

    #30 briggite

    btw

    ANY talk about how a christian or pagan should behave is LAW. it is never about sanctification or being a christian or being a better christian.

    yes we should do good out of a loving response to the gospel. we dont do that. this is law talk.

    The new will, that happens insofar as we are regenerate, needs no spiritual pushups or exhortations or reminders to do good works in faith. those happen spontaneously and automatically.

    Think of how Jesus kept the law. it looks exactly like that in our new regenerated will that is perfectly conformed to Gods will insofar as we are regenerate.

    insofar as you are not regenerated, the old adam in you is a retractable ass that needs constant goading and carrot and stick. and God provides this to allow you and your neighbor to be at peace with one another and enjoy your life and its blessings.

    the lords peace be with you.

  • http://uest fws

    #30 briggite

    btw

    ANY talk about how a christian or pagan should behave is LAW. it is never about sanctification or being a christian or being a better christian.

    yes we should do good out of a loving response to the gospel. we dont do that. this is law talk.

    The new will, that happens insofar as we are regenerate, needs no spiritual pushups or exhortations or reminders to do good works in faith. those happen spontaneously and automatically.

    Think of how Jesus kept the law. it looks exactly like that in our new regenerated will that is perfectly conformed to Gods will insofar as we are regenerate.

    insofar as you are not regenerated, the old adam in you is a retractable ass that needs constant goading and carrot and stick. and God provides this to allow you and your neighbor to be at peace with one another and enjoy your life and its blessings.

    the lords peace be with you.

  • http://uest fws

    #29 brigitte

    one more thing. we get tired with ourselves and others and we really want to find that magic bullet that will fix us.

    there is only one. death. there is no fix. metaphor for church is hospice not hospital.

    sanctification and regeneration and faith increase by contact with Gods word and the message of forgiveness.

    aha. solution? more prayer, church, bible?
    well now. that will look like romans 7. you will become aware of sins you did not thing of as sins before. pain. and you will , through this process, learn to rely more and more on christ alone for your righteousness.

    God bless you in this!

  • http://uest fws

    #29 brigitte

    one more thing. we get tired with ourselves and others and we really want to find that magic bullet that will fix us.

    there is only one. death. there is no fix. metaphor for church is hospice not hospital.

    sanctification and regeneration and faith increase by contact with Gods word and the message of forgiveness.

    aha. solution? more prayer, church, bible?
    well now. that will look like romans 7. you will become aware of sins you did not thing of as sins before. pain. and you will , through this process, learn to rely more and more on christ alone for your righteousness.

    God bless you in this!

  • Brigitte

    Hi fws:
    All I am saying is this–the Pharisees did not even have outward righteousness because they were abusing the law not following it.

    Blessings to you, too.

  • Brigitte

    Hi fws:
    All I am saying is this–the Pharisees did not even have outward righteousness because they were abusing the law not following it.

    Blessings to you, too.

  • http://uest fws

    #33

    curious. what would you give me as a contemporary example of a pagan doing outward righteousness, who is outwardly righteous?

  • http://uest fws

    #33

    curious. what would you give me as a contemporary example of a pagan doing outward righteousness, who is outwardly righteous?

  • Brigitte

    OK, I think I’ve got it.

    The “third use of the law”, according to dear fws, is nothing other than this worldly piety spoken of in the referenced sermon, which is the same as living out your vocation according to the 10 commandments (God’s word) and not something made up by self-satisfying man. Therefore this is wholesome teaching.

    The “third use of the law”, in this sense, however, according to Larry is completely superfluous (and maybe fsw agrees with that) then since it is the same for Christians and non-Christians. So no need to call it another use and confuse people.

    This use of the law can be abused in a number of ways, foremost being the “super-Christian” way, or such manifestations as monastic extremes, Phariseeism, all of which are condemned as “bad fruit”. This can probably be abused in a non-religious way, also, such as by workaholism, pride, malcontent, etc.

    This “super” keeping of the law, contains the problem of creating new laws that are not God’s law, accompanied by the dropping of the real law of love of neighbor. This is not ANY kind of piety or righteousness, but pure hypocrisy. The teaching on vocation is supposed to keep this nonsense at bay.

    How are we doing?

  • Brigitte

    OK, I think I’ve got it.

    The “third use of the law”, according to dear fws, is nothing other than this worldly piety spoken of in the referenced sermon, which is the same as living out your vocation according to the 10 commandments (God’s word) and not something made up by self-satisfying man. Therefore this is wholesome teaching.

    The “third use of the law”, in this sense, however, according to Larry is completely superfluous (and maybe fsw agrees with that) then since it is the same for Christians and non-Christians. So no need to call it another use and confuse people.

    This use of the law can be abused in a number of ways, foremost being the “super-Christian” way, or such manifestations as monastic extremes, Phariseeism, all of which are condemned as “bad fruit”. This can probably be abused in a non-religious way, also, such as by workaholism, pride, malcontent, etc.

    This “super” keeping of the law, contains the problem of creating new laws that are not God’s law, accompanied by the dropping of the real law of love of neighbor. This is not ANY kind of piety or righteousness, but pure hypocrisy. The teaching on vocation is supposed to keep this nonsense at bay.

    How are we doing?

  • Larry

    Bridgette,

    “This “super” keeping of the law, contains the problem of creating new laws that are not God’s law, accompanied by the dropping of the real law of love of neighbor. This is not ANY kind of piety or righteousness, but pure hypocrisy. The teaching on vocation is supposed to keep this nonsense at bay.”

    Precisely!!!

    This is what happens with the use of the “third use of the Law” and why I think Luther never took it there. It’s not a bad term but it has the tendency to actually be abused and is much abused. It’s inherent danger when systemizing “uses” of the Law come about. They make fine teaching instruments but they do work that way in proclamation. The Law speaks as the Law speaks and categorizing it really doesn’t change that. The same sentence of Law at any given time can affect any given person differently depending. For example the first commandment. Some times it is greatly accusing and one is terrorized, at other times it is greatly encouraging in as much as it promises what it states. Luther saw this especially in the first three commandments, particularly the first. And so it operates. There are days and times, even in the same prayer, that the first commandment accuses (me/you), and then there are times when it contains the greatest Gospel promise. From this great command through the Gospel the rest begin to operate. Now the believer, for nothing can be done without faith (inner or outer), can do the rest of the second table. No not for righteousness or thereby attaining, he has that already in faith, nor will he do it without sin, faith in Christ alone covers that, but now he may serve the neighbor. To say that the Law “serves me” is “anti-law”.

    Using the systemized teaching tools and not be proclaimatory the civil use of the law does nothing but restrain a beast. It restrains sinners from being as sinful as they can be by threat of punishment, even hope of reward (earthly). No faith exists here. The third use, used correctly, none motivational, simply serves to identify (exactly as you have said) so as to protect the believer from false teachers giving false “church yard duties” or “house rules” or “these things over here are more spiritual” kind of works.

    Let me give you an example, true story. A friend of mine’s old pietistic church and pastor, and his wife were querying his wife (my friend’s) as to what she thought her gifts were. If you’ve been in heterodoxy pietism this will ring home as to what they were asking before I get to it. She replied something like, “Being a good wife to my husband and raising our only little boy…”. Of course the pietistic head shaking and “dear in the head lights” looks started. That wasn’t what they wanted to hear. They wanted to hear, “Why evangelism or missions or teaching Sunday School…”. Something “really spiritual”, something on the church yard duty list, versions of protestant monkery. So they replied that that is not what they meant and began hinting, pretty much the list I just gave to her. My buddy pulled out the Law, just as Luther would have and did, (third use implied) and said something like, ‘See here, God’s Word says this, this and this…’. See there the third use identified the real good works to do and by having the WORD attached to them one could be sure and certain of these good works as good works to be doing, AS believers already. Without the Gospel first and thereby faith being in place such good works via the identity of the Law could only be unto the false notion of self righteousness.

    Two men, a believer and unbeliever may both be doing an outwardly appearing “good” work. The same exact work we will call work X. The unbeliever may even do it better and have a better outward attitude about it than the believer. But it is ONLY a true good work for the believer for he rests already via the Gospel in Christ alone. Good fruit comes from the good tree already made a good tree by the objective Gospel, a good fruit tree does not come about by “doing” and exerting and trying to “produce the fruit”. Faith makes all the difference in the world. The unbeliever doing work X is doing it unto his condemnation, though it restrains him in the civil realm, it condemns him in the theological realm for he has no faith but rests in that work.

    Yours truly,

    Larry

  • Larry

    Bridgette,

    “This “super” keeping of the law, contains the problem of creating new laws that are not God’s law, accompanied by the dropping of the real law of love of neighbor. This is not ANY kind of piety or righteousness, but pure hypocrisy. The teaching on vocation is supposed to keep this nonsense at bay.”

    Precisely!!!

    This is what happens with the use of the “third use of the Law” and why I think Luther never took it there. It’s not a bad term but it has the tendency to actually be abused and is much abused. It’s inherent danger when systemizing “uses” of the Law come about. They make fine teaching instruments but they do work that way in proclamation. The Law speaks as the Law speaks and categorizing it really doesn’t change that. The same sentence of Law at any given time can affect any given person differently depending. For example the first commandment. Some times it is greatly accusing and one is terrorized, at other times it is greatly encouraging in as much as it promises what it states. Luther saw this especially in the first three commandments, particularly the first. And so it operates. There are days and times, even in the same prayer, that the first commandment accuses (me/you), and then there are times when it contains the greatest Gospel promise. From this great command through the Gospel the rest begin to operate. Now the believer, for nothing can be done without faith (inner or outer), can do the rest of the second table. No not for righteousness or thereby attaining, he has that already in faith, nor will he do it without sin, faith in Christ alone covers that, but now he may serve the neighbor. To say that the Law “serves me” is “anti-law”.

    Using the systemized teaching tools and not be proclaimatory the civil use of the law does nothing but restrain a beast. It restrains sinners from being as sinful as they can be by threat of punishment, even hope of reward (earthly). No faith exists here. The third use, used correctly, none motivational, simply serves to identify (exactly as you have said) so as to protect the believer from false teachers giving false “church yard duties” or “house rules” or “these things over here are more spiritual” kind of works.

    Let me give you an example, true story. A friend of mine’s old pietistic church and pastor, and his wife were querying his wife (my friend’s) as to what she thought her gifts were. If you’ve been in heterodoxy pietism this will ring home as to what they were asking before I get to it. She replied something like, “Being a good wife to my husband and raising our only little boy…”. Of course the pietistic head shaking and “dear in the head lights” looks started. That wasn’t what they wanted to hear. They wanted to hear, “Why evangelism or missions or teaching Sunday School…”. Something “really spiritual”, something on the church yard duty list, versions of protestant monkery. So they replied that that is not what they meant and began hinting, pretty much the list I just gave to her. My buddy pulled out the Law, just as Luther would have and did, (third use implied) and said something like, ‘See here, God’s Word says this, this and this…’. See there the third use identified the real good works to do and by having the WORD attached to them one could be sure and certain of these good works as good works to be doing, AS believers already. Without the Gospel first and thereby faith being in place such good works via the identity of the Law could only be unto the false notion of self righteousness.

    Two men, a believer and unbeliever may both be doing an outwardly appearing “good” work. The same exact work we will call work X. The unbeliever may even do it better and have a better outward attitude about it than the believer. But it is ONLY a true good work for the believer for he rests already via the Gospel in Christ alone. Good fruit comes from the good tree already made a good tree by the objective Gospel, a good fruit tree does not come about by “doing” and exerting and trying to “produce the fruit”. Faith makes all the difference in the world. The unbeliever doing work X is doing it unto his condemnation, though it restrains him in the civil realm, it condemns him in the theological realm for he has no faith but rests in that work.

    Yours truly,

    Larry

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Came across today what JonSLC seems to have referenced above.http://www.trinitylutheranms.org/MartinLuther/MLSermons/Luke2_33_40.html

    60. From this you see that Anna must have been a widow, alone in the world, without any children or parents to take care of, otherwise she would not have served God but the devil by

    not departing from the temple and neglecting her duty of managing her household according to the will of God. Luke indicates this when he writes that she had been a widow even for fourscore and four years. Everybody may then easily calculate that her parents must have been dead and her children provided for, so that as an aged mother she was cared for by them and she did not have anything to do but to pray and fast and forego all worldly pleasures. Luke does not say that all the eighty-four years of her life were spent in this manner; but at the time when Christ was born and brought into the temple she began to lead such a life, when all things, as well as her children and parents, were provided for and she was entirely alone.

    61. It is therefore a dangerous thing to take notice only of the works, and fail to consider the whole character of a person, as well as his station and calling. God cannot bear to see any one neglect the duties of his calling or station in life in order to imitate the works of the saints. If therefore a married woman were to follow Anna in this respect, leave her husband and children, her home and parents in order to go on a pilgrimage, to pray, fast and go to church, she would do nothing else but tempt God, confound the matrimonial estate with the state of widowhood, desert her own calling and do works belonging to others. This would be as much as walking on one’s ears, putting a veil over one’s feet and a boot on one’s head, and turning all things upside down. Good works should be done, and you ought to pray and fast, but you must not thereby be kept from or neglect the duties of your calling and station.

    Page 282 —————————

    The service of God does not consist in the performance of one or two special deeds, nor is it bound to any particular calling, but God may be served in every calling. The duty of Anna and all widows who like her are alone, is praying and fasting, and here St. Luke agrees with St. Paul. The duty of married women is not only praying and fasting, but they should govern their children and household according to the will of God and care for their parents, as St. Paul says in 1 Tim. 5, 4: For this reason the Evangelist, in describing the life of Anna takes such great care to mention her station and age, so that he may discourage those who would take notice only of her deeds and draw poison from roses. He first of all draws attention to her calling.

    62. In the third place, the same reason prompts him to write that she lived with a husband seven years from her virginity. Here he exalts the state of matrimony and the duties of that estate, so that nobody may think that he considers only praying and fasting as good works. For she did not devote herself entirely to praying and fasting while she lived with her husband, or during the time of her maidenhood, but only after she had become an aged and lonely widow. Yet her virginity and her wedded life with its duties are also praised and help up as an example of truly good works. Why would you disregard them and only cleave to the deeds of the widow?

    63. And with good purpose does the Evangelist first praise her wedded life and then her widowhood, for he wanted to cut the ground entirely from under the feet of the blind legalists. She was a godly maiden, a godly wife, and a godly widow, and in all these three estates she performed her respective duties.

    64. May you then do likewise. Reflect on your condition, and you will find enough good works to do if you would lead a godly life. Every calling has its own duties, so that we need not inquire for others outside of our station. Behold, then we will truly serve God, just as Luke says that Anna worshiped with fastings and supplications night and day. But the legalists do not serve God, but themselves, nay, the devil, for they do not perform their duties and forsake their own calling.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Came across today what JonSLC seems to have referenced above.http://www.trinitylutheranms.org/MartinLuther/MLSermons/Luke2_33_40.html

    60. From this you see that Anna must have been a widow, alone in the world, without any children or parents to take care of, otherwise she would not have served God but the devil by

    not departing from the temple and neglecting her duty of managing her household according to the will of God. Luke indicates this when he writes that she had been a widow even for fourscore and four years. Everybody may then easily calculate that her parents must have been dead and her children provided for, so that as an aged mother she was cared for by them and she did not have anything to do but to pray and fast and forego all worldly pleasures. Luke does not say that all the eighty-four years of her life were spent in this manner; but at the time when Christ was born and brought into the temple she began to lead such a life, when all things, as well as her children and parents, were provided for and she was entirely alone.

    61. It is therefore a dangerous thing to take notice only of the works, and fail to consider the whole character of a person, as well as his station and calling. God cannot bear to see any one neglect the duties of his calling or station in life in order to imitate the works of the saints. If therefore a married woman were to follow Anna in this respect, leave her husband and children, her home and parents in order to go on a pilgrimage, to pray, fast and go to church, she would do nothing else but tempt God, confound the matrimonial estate with the state of widowhood, desert her own calling and do works belonging to others. This would be as much as walking on one’s ears, putting a veil over one’s feet and a boot on one’s head, and turning all things upside down. Good works should be done, and you ought to pray and fast, but you must not thereby be kept from or neglect the duties of your calling and station.

    Page 282 —————————

    The service of God does not consist in the performance of one or two special deeds, nor is it bound to any particular calling, but God may be served in every calling. The duty of Anna and all widows who like her are alone, is praying and fasting, and here St. Luke agrees with St. Paul. The duty of married women is not only praying and fasting, but they should govern their children and household according to the will of God and care for their parents, as St. Paul says in 1 Tim. 5, 4: For this reason the Evangelist, in describing the life of Anna takes such great care to mention her station and age, so that he may discourage those who would take notice only of her deeds and draw poison from roses. He first of all draws attention to her calling.

    62. In the third place, the same reason prompts him to write that she lived with a husband seven years from her virginity. Here he exalts the state of matrimony and the duties of that estate, so that nobody may think that he considers only praying and fasting as good works. For she did not devote herself entirely to praying and fasting while she lived with her husband, or during the time of her maidenhood, but only after she had become an aged and lonely widow. Yet her virginity and her wedded life with its duties are also praised and help up as an example of truly good works. Why would you disregard them and only cleave to the deeds of the widow?

    63. And with good purpose does the Evangelist first praise her wedded life and then her widowhood, for he wanted to cut the ground entirely from under the feet of the blind legalists. She was a godly maiden, a godly wife, and a godly widow, and in all these three estates she performed her respective duties.

    64. May you then do likewise. Reflect on your condition, and you will find enough good works to do if you would lead a godly life. Every calling has its own duties, so that we need not inquire for others outside of our station. Behold, then we will truly serve God, just as Luke says that Anna worshiped with fastings and supplications night and day. But the legalists do not serve God, but themselves, nay, the devil, for they do not perform their duties and forsake their own calling.

  • Ray

    The idea that a Christian doing everyday chores is a calling from God – when such chores are accomplished no differently and accomplish nothing more than what non-Christians do – is preposterous

  • Ray

    The idea that a Christian doing everyday chores is a calling from God – when such chores are accomplished no differently and accomplish nothing more than what non-Christians do – is preposterous


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