The third use of the Law

Continuing our series on the Law, in which we discussed the civil use (as curb; that is, external righteousness that makes possible the social order) and the theological use (as mirror; that is, to help us to see our sins so that we repent and turn to the Gospel), we  now come to the so-called Third Use (as guide; that is, to help Christians know the kind of life that pleases God).  This third use has been the topic of some contention in Lutheran circles, with controversies over how best to understand the law in the life of Christians.

What do you think of this explanation by Jono Linebaugh, an Anglican teaching at a Reformed seminary?  (Read the whole post at Tullian Tchividjian’s blog.)

God’s words that accuse and kill typically do their work of condemnation in the form of a commandment attached to a condition. So, for example, when Paul sums up the salvation-logic of the Law he quotes Leviticus 18.5b: “the one who does [the commandments] will live by them” (Gal 3.12). Here, there is a promise of life linked to the condition of doing the commandments and a corresponding threat: “cursed is everyone who does not abide in all the things written in the Book of the Law, to do them” (Gal 3.10 citing Deut 27.26). When this conditional word encounters the sinful human, the outcome is inevitable: “the whole world is guilty before God” (Rom 3.19). It is thus the condition that does the work of condemnation. “Ifs” kill!

Compare this to a couple examples of New Testament imperatives. First, consider Galatians 5.1. After four chapters of passionate insistence that justification is by faith apart from works of the Law, Paul issues a couple of strong imperatives: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore stand firm (imperative) and do not be subject (imperative) again to the yoke of slavery.” Are these imperatives instances of God’s accusing and killing words? Are these commandments with conditions? Is Galatians 5.1 an example of Law? No! The command here is precisely to not return to the Law; it is an imperative to stand firm in freedom from the Law. Or take another example, John 8.11. Once the accusers of the adulterous women left, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Depart. From now on, sin no more.” Does this final imperative disqualify the words of mercy? Is this a commandment with a condition? Is this Law following the Gospel? No! This would be Law: “if you go and sin no more, then neither will I condemn you.” But Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” The command is not a condition. “Neither do I condemn you” is categorical and unconditional, it comes with no strings attached. “Neither do I condemn you” creates an unconditional context within which “go and sin no more” is not an “if.” The only “if” the Gospel knows is this: “if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2.1).

For Luther, it is within this unconditional context created by the gospel, the reality he called “living by faith,” that the Law understood as God’s good commands can be returned to its proper place. Freed from the burden and bondage of attempting to use the Law to establish our righteousness before God, Christians are free to look to commandments, not as conditions, but as descriptions and directions as they seek to serve their neighbor. In other words, once a person is liberated from the commonsense delusion that acting righteously makes us righteous before God, and in faith believes the counter-intuitive reality that being made righteous by God’s forgiving and resurrecting word precedes and produces righteous action, then the justified person is unlocked to love.

For this reason, Luther would insist that the Law only applies to the second question of Christian living: what shall we do? It helps to answer the “what” question, the question about the content of good works. The Law, however, does not answer the more basic question, the question far too few people ask: How do good works occur? What fuels works of love? While the Law demands and directs, what delivers and drives? For Luther, the answer to this question always follows the pattern of 1 John 4.19: “We love because he first loved us.” Works of love flow from prior belovedness. Thus, as Lutheran theologian Oswald Bayer has said, the essential question of theological ethics is this: “What has been given?” The answer: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5.8).

Recognizing this distinction between the conditional and condemning function of the Law and the descriptive and directive statement of God’s will addressed to the unconditional context of faith in the God who justifies the ungodly is essential for understanding the purpose and place of New Testament imperatives, not to mention the Ten Commandments. The proper pattern is always “in view of God’s mercies…” (Rom 12.1), or as Luther pointed out with respect to the Decalogue, the pattern is the opening promise: “I am the Lord your God…” (Exod 20.2). In other words, the ears of faith are free to hear a commandment without a condition because the Christian conscience listens not to the condition and curse of the Law, but to the Christ in whom there is no condemnation (Rom 8.1).

via Tullian Tchividjian.

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.

  • Pete

    “Freed from the burden and bondage of attempting to use the Law to establish our righteousness before God…”

    This would seem to be an acknowledgement of the primacy of Grace over Law.
    “Works righteousness” has been said to be the default setting of mankind and the epistle to the Galatians as well as simple observation of the nature of any and all non-Christian religions (i.e. do something to appease God) bear this out. Hence, the adulterous woman stood condemned by the Law but not by Christ, whose work atoned for not only her sin but everyone’s. What’s fascinating (well, one of many fascinating aspects) in the John 8 account is that the criterion set down by Jesus for a person to begin stoning the adulterous woman was that they be without sin – and there was one such person present. And He did not. I recently had occasion to be involved in a study of the epistle of James – fully aware of Luther’s thin view of it and of James’ apparent disagreement with Paul regarding faith versus works. It’s interesting to note the character of the “works” that are cited by James in chapter two as examples of saving works. These were, of course, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s bidding and Rahab covering for and facilitating the escape of the Israelite spies. Both of these “works” were fully predicated on faith. In Abraham’s case, faith in God and His Word – trusting Him despite the fact that what Abraham was being asked to do was, at best, screwy and, at worst, terrible/immoral. In Rahab’s case, apart from the recognition that the God of the Israelites was the true God (as she confessed) all of the incentives for her would have been to turn these spies in to the Jericho police. The analogy to the third use of the Law resides in their being done in the context of saving faith.

  • Pete

    “Freed from the burden and bondage of attempting to use the Law to establish our righteousness before God…”

    This would seem to be an acknowledgement of the primacy of Grace over Law.
    “Works righteousness” has been said to be the default setting of mankind and the epistle to the Galatians as well as simple observation of the nature of any and all non-Christian religions (i.e. do something to appease God) bear this out. Hence, the adulterous woman stood condemned by the Law but not by Christ, whose work atoned for not only her sin but everyone’s. What’s fascinating (well, one of many fascinating aspects) in the John 8 account is that the criterion set down by Jesus for a person to begin stoning the adulterous woman was that they be without sin – and there was one such person present. And He did not. I recently had occasion to be involved in a study of the epistle of James – fully aware of Luther’s thin view of it and of James’ apparent disagreement with Paul regarding faith versus works. It’s interesting to note the character of the “works” that are cited by James in chapter two as examples of saving works. These were, of course, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s bidding and Rahab covering for and facilitating the escape of the Israelite spies. Both of these “works” were fully predicated on faith. In Abraham’s case, faith in God and His Word – trusting Him despite the fact that what Abraham was being asked to do was, at best, screwy and, at worst, terrible/immoral. In Rahab’s case, apart from the recognition that the God of the Israelites was the true God (as she confessed) all of the incentives for her would have been to turn these spies in to the Jericho police. The analogy to the third use of the Law resides in their being done in the context of saving faith.

  • Dan Kempin

    “What do you think of this explanation by Jono Linebaugh?”

    Is Jono Linebaugh Rush Linebaugh’s brother?

    Never mind.

    I don’t like it. He is seeking to identify “laws” that are accusing and laws that are, well, different. This is nothing more than the old papistic idea of “evangelistic” commands. (Or whatever they called it. I forget now.) It misses the whole idea of the one divine Law functioning in three ways. It is not “one concept of law with three components, here you see one and here you see another.” Every command of the law functions in all three ways.

    Thus, also, you cannot “preach” the third use of the law. You can only preach the law and trust that God will work through it in believers according to the third use.

  • Dan Kempin

    “What do you think of this explanation by Jono Linebaugh?”

    Is Jono Linebaugh Rush Linebaugh’s brother?

    Never mind.

    I don’t like it. He is seeking to identify “laws” that are accusing and laws that are, well, different. This is nothing more than the old papistic idea of “evangelistic” commands. (Or whatever they called it. I forget now.) It misses the whole idea of the one divine Law functioning in three ways. It is not “one concept of law with three components, here you see one and here you see another.” Every command of the law functions in all three ways.

    Thus, also, you cannot “preach” the third use of the law. You can only preach the law and trust that God will work through it in believers according to the third use.

  • Pingback: Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? « In all they do, they prosper

  • Pingback: Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? « In all they do, they prosper

  • http://enlivenonline.com Jason Barker

    I like David Scaer’s definition of the Third Use of the Law:

    The regenerate Christian “is free from the threats and curses of the Law (SD VI, 23) and he recognizes this Law as God’s will for his life (SD Vi, 12). The Formula uses picturesque language in describing the Christian’s response to the Law. In this renewed condition he “does everything from a free and merry spirit” (SD VI, 17). Such good works are motivated by the Holy Spirit and flow from faith, but they are all in accordance with the Law, which is also the Spirit’s product (SD VI, 12). Works flow from faith as water comes from a spring, but these works flow down channels established by the Law. This positive direction of the Law without prohibition or fear of punishment is what is essentially meant by the Third Use of the Law.”

    From “The Formula of Concord Article VI: The Third Use of the Law,” Concordia Theological Quarterly, 69 no 3-4 (2005), p 151-52.

  • http://enlivenonline.com Jason Barker

    I like David Scaer’s definition of the Third Use of the Law:

    The regenerate Christian “is free from the threats and curses of the Law (SD VI, 23) and he recognizes this Law as God’s will for his life (SD Vi, 12). The Formula uses picturesque language in describing the Christian’s response to the Law. In this renewed condition he “does everything from a free and merry spirit” (SD VI, 17). Such good works are motivated by the Holy Spirit and flow from faith, but they are all in accordance with the Law, which is also the Spirit’s product (SD VI, 12). Works flow from faith as water comes from a spring, but these works flow down channels established by the Law. This positive direction of the Law without prohibition or fear of punishment is what is essentially meant by the Third Use of the Law.”

    From “The Formula of Concord Article VI: The Third Use of the Law,” Concordia Theological Quarterly, 69 no 3-4 (2005), p 151-52.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
    nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers,
    but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
    Psalm 1:1-2

    Have you listened to a sermon preached on this psalm lately? Who among us delights in the Law or meditates on the law day and night? While I can appreciate the hesitation of some to grasp the fullness of Luther’s understanding of the three uses of the Law, I am thankful for his (Luther) exposition of a holy Law which is good.

    Lex semper accusat (The Law always accuses) This is most certainly true in all uses of the Law. In the first use, the Law declares to the unbeliever and the regenerate alike, do this and you shall live. In the second use, the Law shows how far we have run away from God’s Law. The Law strips away all our fig leafs and declares us guilty. The goodness of the Law can only be apprehended when the accusations are removed and this happens in the third use when we view the Law though the eyes of Christ. While we know our guilt is great, through faith in Christ we know his grace is greater than our sins.

    Crux sola est nostra theologia (The cross is our only theology) In the third use, the Law has not diminished – it still bears the full weight of accusation. What has changed is the cross where Christ bears the full weight of all sins and in return offers to us a yoke easy to bear. Being justified in Christ, we seek to grow in our faith and do his will; our eyes now see the Law as the holy, just and good will of the Father. It is His will we serve our neighbor not by simply not doing (“thou shalt nots) but by acts of mercy and love. This love is the essence of fulfilling the Law, but the Law does not show us this way. Only through Christ can we delight in the Law of the Lord and with the Holy Spirit we can do His will.
    [I would recommend Dr. John Kleinig's Grace upon Grace for further edification.]
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
    nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers,
    but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
    Psalm 1:1-2

    Have you listened to a sermon preached on this psalm lately? Who among us delights in the Law or meditates on the law day and night? While I can appreciate the hesitation of some to grasp the fullness of Luther’s understanding of the three uses of the Law, I am thankful for his (Luther) exposition of a holy Law which is good.

    Lex semper accusat (The Law always accuses) This is most certainly true in all uses of the Law. In the first use, the Law declares to the unbeliever and the regenerate alike, do this and you shall live. In the second use, the Law shows how far we have run away from God’s Law. The Law strips away all our fig leafs and declares us guilty. The goodness of the Law can only be apprehended when the accusations are removed and this happens in the third use when we view the Law though the eyes of Christ. While we know our guilt is great, through faith in Christ we know his grace is greater than our sins.

    Crux sola est nostra theologia (The cross is our only theology) In the third use, the Law has not diminished – it still bears the full weight of accusation. What has changed is the cross where Christ bears the full weight of all sins and in return offers to us a yoke easy to bear. Being justified in Christ, we seek to grow in our faith and do his will; our eyes now see the Law as the holy, just and good will of the Father. It is His will we serve our neighbor not by simply not doing (“thou shalt nots) but by acts of mercy and love. This love is the essence of fulfilling the Law, but the Law does not show us this way. Only through Christ can we delight in the Law of the Lord and with the Holy Spirit we can do His will.
    [I would recommend Dr. John Kleinig's Grace upon Grace for further edification.]
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Arfies

    If the Law always accuses, then it might seem that the third use of the Law is an unnatural or even non-use of the Law. I understand that as forgiven sinners and people of faith we want to avoid breaking God’s Law and we also want to do things that would seem to be in harmony with God’s Law. But the Law (especially the Decalogue, if you will) only tells us what not to do, excepting in the Fourth Commandment (Lutheran enumeration): “Honor your father and your mother.”

    Luther leads the way, as far as I am concerned, by explaining in the Catechism section on the Commandments what the Law forbids, and then going on to illustrate the positive actions that are prompted by our fear and love of God. In other words, we look to the Law to find out what we must not do, but once we know that we can find things to do that will not lead us into sin against the Law. I have always thought that Paul points the way very well in Galatians 5:

    1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. . . .
    14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself ” 15 But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. (RSV)

    Christ Jesus fulfilled the Law in every sense so that believers now can be governed not by the Law but by the Holy Spirit!

  • Arfies

    If the Law always accuses, then it might seem that the third use of the Law is an unnatural or even non-use of the Law. I understand that as forgiven sinners and people of faith we want to avoid breaking God’s Law and we also want to do things that would seem to be in harmony with God’s Law. But the Law (especially the Decalogue, if you will) only tells us what not to do, excepting in the Fourth Commandment (Lutheran enumeration): “Honor your father and your mother.”

    Luther leads the way, as far as I am concerned, by explaining in the Catechism section on the Commandments what the Law forbids, and then going on to illustrate the positive actions that are prompted by our fear and love of God. In other words, we look to the Law to find out what we must not do, but once we know that we can find things to do that will not lead us into sin against the Law. I have always thought that Paul points the way very well in Galatians 5:

    1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. . . .
    14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself ” 15 But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. (RSV)

    Christ Jesus fulfilled the Law in every sense so that believers now can be governed not by the Law but by the Holy Spirit!

  • EGK

    The third function of the law is simply the law directed toward the future, the descriptive pattern of the life God desires, and which we according to the new nature desire as well. We can see this in Luther’s morning and evening prayers. After the morning prayer, praying to be kept from sin and every evil, he advises us to go to our day singing a hymn to the Ten Commandments (or whatever our devotion may suggest). In the evening we pray for forgiveness because we have not kept it.

  • EGK

    The third function of the law is simply the law directed toward the future, the descriptive pattern of the life God desires, and which we according to the new nature desire as well. We can see this in Luther’s morning and evening prayers. After the morning prayer, praying to be kept from sin and every evil, he advises us to go to our day singing a hymn to the Ten Commandments (or whatever our devotion may suggest). In the evening we pray for forgiveness because we have not kept it.

  • http://princetonlutherans.com jgernander

    “The Law” in Psalm 1 refers not strictly to the Decalogue but to all of the revealed Word of God. Dr. John Kleinig’s explanation of this psalm in Grace Upon Grace, emphasizing its deliberate placement as an introduction to all of the psalms, is excellent. I was taught back in seminary that this is “Law” in the wide sense of the term, not the narrow sense. The context makes that abundantly clear, because those who are not “the wicked” and do not get “scattered like chaff” are those who remain under the curse of the Law (strictly speaking), but “the blessed” (a Gospel word!) whose way the Lord knows are those who are saved by the Gospel, not those who obey “the Law” (strictly speaking, Law in the narrow sense).

    Pastor Jerry Gernander (ELS)

  • http://princetonlutherans.com jgernander

    “The Law” in Psalm 1 refers not strictly to the Decalogue but to all of the revealed Word of God. Dr. John Kleinig’s explanation of this psalm in Grace Upon Grace, emphasizing its deliberate placement as an introduction to all of the psalms, is excellent. I was taught back in seminary that this is “Law” in the wide sense of the term, not the narrow sense. The context makes that abundantly clear, because those who are not “the wicked” and do not get “scattered like chaff” are those who remain under the curse of the Law (strictly speaking), but “the blessed” (a Gospel word!) whose way the Lord knows are those who are saved by the Gospel, not those who obey “the Law” (strictly speaking, Law in the narrow sense).

    Pastor Jerry Gernander (ELS)

  • fws

    The [Lutheran] Third use is a distinction of Law and Gospel.
    The Formula of Concord that treats this (FC art VI) addresses Lutherans who were stating that the Law is no longer necessary for believers.

    Note that THIS is the heart of the controversy that is addressed. And then please note their solution, which is to affirm this and at the same time qualify it in this way:

    The Believer as New Man is indeed free from the Law and is sanctified ALONE by the Gospel. But ONLY and ALONE because the Believer still has the Old Adam clinging to him …

    The Believer as Old Adam STILL needs the Law in EXACTLY the SAME way that a pagan needs it! And the Law ALWAYS accuses. The Law always kills. The Law always threatens and punishes.

    Accordingly there are two parts to sanctification. There is an invisible part that the Believer can know and possess alone by invisible faith alone in Christ. In this invisible part Goodness and Mercy flows out of the Believer with no effort at all! It just is.

    Then there is a visible part of sanctification that fully includes ALL we can see and do in our bodies, which is ALL Old Adam. This part of sanctification happens by the New Man exercising the Law upon his Old Adam. This Law part of sanctification is the 100% of what the believer can experientially know and do and see in his earthly existence! So as far as we can see and do, sanctification then is ALL about our mortification! Mortification is latinate and means “deathing”. It is the Law at work in us. St Paul tells us that THIS part of sanctification requires our full attention and effort and concentration that looks like an athlete in training for a race or other athletic competition.

    Further, this mortification is not the product God desires out of either our Old Adam or New Man. This mortification looks like Obedience to or Compliance to the Law. It looks sacrificial. It looks like our death to be precise! But God wants the Law to produce mercy and not sacrifice.

    So how this works is that our death , worked in us, is to produce the fruit of Mercy for the creaturely temporal and perishable life of our neighbor. This is the real aim of the Law’s killing us.

    But the Pharisees erred by thinking that it was the sacrifice alone, apart from the desired fruit of mercy, that constituted the Obedience God was demanding. And Christ calls this Idolatry and sin. Why? Only Christ can do the Obedience that the Law demands. So St James instructs us that obedience to the Law and faith in that obedience is worthless. Instead God demands that we do visible acts of Mercy for others and that THIS is the righeousness we are to focus on. This is earthly righteousness. And then we are to put our faith in the Works of Another.

    This faith in the works of Another is meaningless on earth except to God and a troubled conscience!

    So then this all results in this Law and Gospel distinction:

    1) There are two parts to sanctification.
    a) there is a part of sanctification that is invisible to the believer.

    Luther calls this the Heavenly or Left hand kingdom or Reign of God and here Goodness and Mercy simply IS, and only IS in Christ. There is no effort or work on our part required here for Fatherly Goodness and Mercy to rule or reign here this means.

    We can only know this part by believing God’s Word that says we now have a New Man and are now completely holy and that we do works of Goodness and Mercy according to this New Man with no effort at all required. The Lutherans use expressions such as “as light from sun”, “spontaneously(think spontaneous combustion)”. “automatically” or “as the angels do God’s bidding”.

    Here you are right! Only the Gospel can create this, and this is really and only the new heart movements Baptism puts into us that alone trusts in the Works of Another and not at all in our efforts or goodness, not even our sanctified goodness.

    Again , THIS part of sanctification is nothing we can see or do, and it is an article of faith which means it is “the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things unseen.”

    b) then there is a part of sanctification that fully includes ALL we can do as believers that is visible. “Visible” here fully includes our right believing for example that the bible is true. It includes the proper emotional response to what God says. So “visible” here is about what we can make an effort to do with our own reason or strength. It looks like effort, or maybe not if we practice hard so that these things look like a habit.

    Luther calls this the Heavenly or Left hand Kingdom or reign of God to produce the same Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that the Gospel produces in that other Heavenly Kingdom. And here it is all about sweat effort!

    Think St James here: “tell me about your faith (sanctification in the first Gospel sense) and I will SHOW you my works (sanctification in the Law or second sense)!”

    In THIS sense of the word “sanctification” St Paul tells believers to take up the Sword of the Spirit, that is the killing Law, and subdue, mortify (kill) and restrain the Old Adam flesh.

    It is very important to note here that this is exactly the same use of the Law that Pagans exercise. It looks the same, and it bears the same fruit as any form of sanctification. The works are identical! So is the method (Law) by which the christian believer is to produce those Good Works.

    It must also be carefully noted that Pagans can FULLY know and do this part that Believer call sanctification. No Bible or faith in God or even a god is necessary here at all. Romans 2:15 says this along with many other passages. Further: the fruit that is the God Desired Fatherly Goodness and Mercy is identical whether a pagan or a christian does it!

    The important thing to note is that this Law exercise of mortifying our Old Adam is the 100% of what we can see and do in our bodies as Christian Believers!

    So for believers , the visible part of sanctification is all about our death for the sake of doing Goodness and Mercy for our neighbor!

    Many christians seek life or even Life here. They use terms like the “victorious christian life” or such. This is wrong. For Believer sanctification, in ALL we can see and do in our bodies, is about our killing our Old Adam for the purpose of extorting Goodness and Mercy out of our Old Adam for our neighbor. It is ONLY that.

    We seek our Life by hiding ALL these works from the wrath of God by hiding ALL of them in the Works of Another. That is where our Life is. It is invisibly hidden in Christ. All we can see and do in our bodies is not about Life, it is ALL about our death for the creaturely perishable good and mercy of other sinners.

  • fws

    The [Lutheran] Third use is a distinction of Law and Gospel.
    The Formula of Concord that treats this (FC art VI) addresses Lutherans who were stating that the Law is no longer necessary for believers.

    Note that THIS is the heart of the controversy that is addressed. And then please note their solution, which is to affirm this and at the same time qualify it in this way:

    The Believer as New Man is indeed free from the Law and is sanctified ALONE by the Gospel. But ONLY and ALONE because the Believer still has the Old Adam clinging to him …

    The Believer as Old Adam STILL needs the Law in EXACTLY the SAME way that a pagan needs it! And the Law ALWAYS accuses. The Law always kills. The Law always threatens and punishes.

    Accordingly there are two parts to sanctification. There is an invisible part that the Believer can know and possess alone by invisible faith alone in Christ. In this invisible part Goodness and Mercy flows out of the Believer with no effort at all! It just is.

    Then there is a visible part of sanctification that fully includes ALL we can see and do in our bodies, which is ALL Old Adam. This part of sanctification happens by the New Man exercising the Law upon his Old Adam. This Law part of sanctification is the 100% of what the believer can experientially know and do and see in his earthly existence! So as far as we can see and do, sanctification then is ALL about our mortification! Mortification is latinate and means “deathing”. It is the Law at work in us. St Paul tells us that THIS part of sanctification requires our full attention and effort and concentration that looks like an athlete in training for a race or other athletic competition.

    Further, this mortification is not the product God desires out of either our Old Adam or New Man. This mortification looks like Obedience to or Compliance to the Law. It looks sacrificial. It looks like our death to be precise! But God wants the Law to produce mercy and not sacrifice.

    So how this works is that our death , worked in us, is to produce the fruit of Mercy for the creaturely temporal and perishable life of our neighbor. This is the real aim of the Law’s killing us.

    But the Pharisees erred by thinking that it was the sacrifice alone, apart from the desired fruit of mercy, that constituted the Obedience God was demanding. And Christ calls this Idolatry and sin. Why? Only Christ can do the Obedience that the Law demands. So St James instructs us that obedience to the Law and faith in that obedience is worthless. Instead God demands that we do visible acts of Mercy for others and that THIS is the righeousness we are to focus on. This is earthly righteousness. And then we are to put our faith in the Works of Another.

    This faith in the works of Another is meaningless on earth except to God and a troubled conscience!

    So then this all results in this Law and Gospel distinction:

    1) There are two parts to sanctification.
    a) there is a part of sanctification that is invisible to the believer.

    Luther calls this the Heavenly or Left hand kingdom or Reign of God and here Goodness and Mercy simply IS, and only IS in Christ. There is no effort or work on our part required here for Fatherly Goodness and Mercy to rule or reign here this means.

    We can only know this part by believing God’s Word that says we now have a New Man and are now completely holy and that we do works of Goodness and Mercy according to this New Man with no effort at all required. The Lutherans use expressions such as “as light from sun”, “spontaneously(think spontaneous combustion)”. “automatically” or “as the angels do God’s bidding”.

    Here you are right! Only the Gospel can create this, and this is really and only the new heart movements Baptism puts into us that alone trusts in the Works of Another and not at all in our efforts or goodness, not even our sanctified goodness.

    Again , THIS part of sanctification is nothing we can see or do, and it is an article of faith which means it is “the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things unseen.”

    b) then there is a part of sanctification that fully includes ALL we can do as believers that is visible. “Visible” here fully includes our right believing for example that the bible is true. It includes the proper emotional response to what God says. So “visible” here is about what we can make an effort to do with our own reason or strength. It looks like effort, or maybe not if we practice hard so that these things look like a habit.

    Luther calls this the Heavenly or Left hand Kingdom or reign of God to produce the same Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that the Gospel produces in that other Heavenly Kingdom. And here it is all about sweat effort!

    Think St James here: “tell me about your faith (sanctification in the first Gospel sense) and I will SHOW you my works (sanctification in the Law or second sense)!”

    In THIS sense of the word “sanctification” St Paul tells believers to take up the Sword of the Spirit, that is the killing Law, and subdue, mortify (kill) and restrain the Old Adam flesh.

    It is very important to note here that this is exactly the same use of the Law that Pagans exercise. It looks the same, and it bears the same fruit as any form of sanctification. The works are identical! So is the method (Law) by which the christian believer is to produce those Good Works.

    It must also be carefully noted that Pagans can FULLY know and do this part that Believer call sanctification. No Bible or faith in God or even a god is necessary here at all. Romans 2:15 says this along with many other passages. Further: the fruit that is the God Desired Fatherly Goodness and Mercy is identical whether a pagan or a christian does it!

    The important thing to note is that this Law exercise of mortifying our Old Adam is the 100% of what we can see and do in our bodies as Christian Believers!

    So for believers , the visible part of sanctification is all about our death for the sake of doing Goodness and Mercy for our neighbor!

    Many christians seek life or even Life here. They use terms like the “victorious christian life” or such. This is wrong. For Believer sanctification, in ALL we can see and do in our bodies, is about our killing our Old Adam for the purpose of extorting Goodness and Mercy out of our Old Adam for our neighbor. It is ONLY that.

    We seek our Life by hiding ALL these works from the wrath of God by hiding ALL of them in the Works of Another. That is where our Life is. It is invisibly hidden in Christ. All we can see and do in our bodies is not about Life, it is ALL about our death for the creaturely perishable good and mercy of other sinners.

  • fws

    errata:

    Luther calls this the Heavenly or Left hand Kingdom or reign of God to produce the same Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that the Gospel produces in that other Heavenly Kingdom. And here it is all about sweat effort!

    This should read: Luther calls this the Earthly or Right hand Kingdom or reign of God…..

    Further thought: the Christian life should look like Jesus hanging dead on the cross for the benefit of others.

    And the Christian Life is hidden in the wounded side of that dead Christ. The Christian finds Life alone by hiding ALL his works that are done for others, the benefit of others, inside that dead Jew hanging upon the Cross.

  • fws

    errata:

    Luther calls this the Heavenly or Left hand Kingdom or reign of God to produce the same Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that the Gospel produces in that other Heavenly Kingdom. And here it is all about sweat effort!

    This should read: Luther calls this the Earthly or Right hand Kingdom or reign of God…..

    Further thought: the Christian life should look like Jesus hanging dead on the cross for the benefit of others.

    And the Christian Life is hidden in the wounded side of that dead Christ. The Christian finds Life alone by hiding ALL his works that are done for others, the benefit of others, inside that dead Jew hanging upon the Cross.

  • fws

    dan @ 2 and jason @ 3

    Only faith can do three things:

    1) it can accept the judgement of the Law and be TERRIFIED when it looks at ALL its best and most holy or even “sanctified” works. So it stops trying to do more works as a method of evading the judgement of God by having a good conscience.

    2) Then faith knows to hide ALL it’s works inside the Works of Another. This alone can bring peace to a troubled conscience.

    3) In addition faith accepts that life is all about the death worked by the Law and therefore seeks death in the Law and not Life. Faith seeks Life only in the Works of Another and not it’s own even most sanctified works. And so faith works itself literally to death to provide Goodness and Mercy to others as they need it.

  • fws

    dan @ 2 and jason @ 3

    Only faith can do three things:

    1) it can accept the judgement of the Law and be TERRIFIED when it looks at ALL its best and most holy or even “sanctified” works. So it stops trying to do more works as a method of evading the judgement of God by having a good conscience.

    2) Then faith knows to hide ALL it’s works inside the Works of Another. This alone can bring peace to a troubled conscience.

    3) In addition faith accepts that life is all about the death worked by the Law and therefore seeks death in the Law and not Life. Faith seeks Life only in the Works of Another and not it’s own even most sanctified works. And so faith works itself literally to death to provide Goodness and Mercy to others as they need it.

  • Pingback: Just Who Is Rejecting Whom Here? « American Parser

  • Pingback: Just Who Is Rejecting Whom Here? « American Parser

  • fws

    LINEBAUGH God’s words that accuse and kill typically do their work of condemnation in the form of a commandment attached to a condition .

    FWS Is this true? Where is the “condition” here? And why does that NOT matter?

    “the preaching of the suffering and death of Christ, the Son of God,
    a) is an earnest and terrible proclamation and declaration of God’s wrath,
    b) whereby men are first led into the Law aright, after the veil of Moses has been removed from them,
    c) so that they first know aright how great things God in His Law requires of us, none of which we can do , and therefore
    d) are to seek all our righteousness in Christ. (Formula of Concord )”http://www.bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#part5.9

    LINEBAUGH …example, … Paul sums up the salvation-logic of the Law … “the one who does [the commandments] will live by them”…a promise of life… condition[ed upon doing] …and a corresponding threat …[if they are not done].
    This conditional word encounters …sinful human [and man is condemned]

    FWS So note that Lindebaugh is talking about the “Veiled Law.” The “Veil” of the Law is Reason, which is the Law God has written in the minds of even men without faith or Bibles (Rom 2:15).

    http://www.esvbible.org/search/Rom+2%3A15%2C+17-29/

    The veiled Law is this:

    12] And Paul teaches 2 Cor. 3:15 sq., the veil that covered the face of Moses cannot be removed except by faith in Christ, by which the Holy Ghost is received.

    For he speaks thus: But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

    13] Paul understands by the veil the human opinion concerning the entire Law, the Decalog and the ceremonies, namely, that hypocrites think that external and civil works satisfy the Law of God, and that sacrifices and observances justify before God ex opere operato (“ex opere operatio” is that the works themselves can satisfy the law´s requirements, so the Law of God operates like the keeping of government laws).

    14] But then this veil is removed from us, i.e., we are freed from this error when God shows to our hearts our uncleanness and the heinousness of sin.

    Then, for the first time, we see that we are far from fulfilling the Law.

    Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us.

    But when, on hearing the Gospel and the remission of sins, we are consoled by faith, we receive the Holy Ghost so that now we are able to think aright concerning God, and to fear and believe God, etc. From these facts it is apparent that the Law cannot be kept without Christ and the Holy Ghost.

    So the Lutheran position is that even pagans can outwardly know and keep the Laws of God! The Veil of Moses is the opinion that this outward keeping is enough. But then the Law tells us that God demands a keeping that is from our entire heart. This even Believers simply can never do. Why not? The Old Adam still clings to them! Old Adam is the very nature and essence of the will, heart, mind and soul even of Believers!

    Then Linebaugh makes this assertion as his Thesis:

    LINEBAUGH It is thus the condition that does the work of condemnation. “Ifs” kill!

    FWS Now Linebaugh is going to tell us about imperatives/commands that do not accuse and kill because they are not Divine Law. Why not? They are “unconditional commands/imperatives”!

    You should be now asking yourself why this distinction even matters.

    Watch:

    LINEBAUGH Compare this to …New Testament imperatives. ..consider Galatians 5.1. …Paul issues …imperatives: “…stand firm…do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.” Do these imperatives…accuse and kill? …. No!

    FWS Ok. The fact is we can´t do this! We don´t do this! We sin. Luther:

    Luther: You must not understand the word LAW here in human fashion, i.e., a regulation about what sort of works must be done or must not be done. That’s the way it is with human laws: you satisfy the demands of the law with works, whether your heart is in it or not. God judges what is in the depths of the heart. Therefore his law also makes demands on the depths of the heart and doesn’t let the heart rest content in works; rather it punishes as hypocrisy and lies all works done apart from the depths of the heart. All human beings are called liars (Psalm 116), since none of them keeps or can keep God’s law from the depths of the heart. Everyone finds inside himself an aversion to good and a craving for evil. Where there is no free desire for good, there the heart has not set itself on God’s law. There also sin is surely to be found and the deserved wrath of God, whether a lot of good works and an honorable life appear outwardly or not.

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

    But Lindebaugh insists that this sort of command does not accuse us. Why not? Linebaugh claims there are 3 reasons why not:
    a) There are Divine commands/imperatives that do not accuse us or kill us BECAUSE they are not Divine Laws! Why not?
    b) To qualify as Divine Law, a Divine Command must always have a condition attached.
    c) There are “unconditional Divine Commands/Imperatives” that are therefore not Divine Law and therefore do not accuse or kill us.
    Let him finish and tell us this in his own words:

    LINDEBAUGH are these commandments with conditions? Is Galatians 5.1 an example of Law? The command here is precisely to not return to the Law; it is an imperative to stand firm in freedom from the Law.

    FWS So he is saying that a) There is no condition here b) so this command is not Divine Law and c) therefore does not condemn. Is that true? But what about St Pauls command to not return to the Law? Do we obey that command? Should we not feel accused there?

    Don´t even we christians return again and again like a dog to it´s vomit to the Law to self justify? When our conscience troubles us, don´t we anxiously try to escape this by making lists of things to do or that we did? And so we prove that we are really phoney christians and would rather rely upon our own works or faith or right believing or right emotional response to God rather than alone rely upon the Works of Another. The lifelong and most difficult task of any Christian, and what alone makes one a Christian, is to surrender to the Works of Another alone as what we offer to God to appease his wrath and have peace for our conscience.

    LINDEBAUGH John 8.11. …Jesus said to [the adulterous woman], “Neither do I condemn you. Depart. From now on, sin no more.” Is this a commandment with a condition?
    No! “Neither do I condemn you” is categorical and unconditional, it comes with no strings attached.

    FWS Interesting. Note that Jesus did not merely tell this woman to stop being a whore. We could actually imagine that the woman could stop doing that. But that is not what Jesus said is it? He said this: Stop sinning! You think that this word did not accuse her? Does it not accuse you? Did Jesus not mean what he said that way? Would Jesus as God demand of someone to do what they could NOT do? Yes. The Law always accuses.

    Now here is where it gets interesting. Linebaugh says that if there is an accusing and killing Law that remains after the word of the Gospel, that this would then cancel the Gospel! Is that true? Watch:

    LINDEBAUGH “Neither do I condemn you” creates an unconditional context within which “go and sin no more” is not an “if.” The only “if” the Gospel knows is this: “if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2.1).

    FWS So ” in the context of the Gospel”
    a) there is no such thing as “conditional Law”.
    b) Therefore no Divine commands/imperatives are Divine Law.
    c) therefore Divine command/imperative never accuse or kill us.
    Is this true? And why is he pushing for this thesis? Lindebaugh goes on:

    LINDEBAUGH Does this final imperative disqualify the words of mercy? Is this Law following the Gospel?

    FWS Note that Lindebaugh is claiming this: After the Gospel, there can be no Law because if that were true, then the Law would cancel out the Gospel. Why? The Law always accuses and kills! So then it follows from this that whenever God commands us to do something after we are Christian it is no longer Law, and , this action, whatever we call it, no longer accuses us or kills us. Is this true?

    LINDEBAUGH This would be Law: “if you go and sin no more, then neither will I condemn you.” But Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” The command is not a condition.

    FWS So now he tries to enlist no less than Luther and Oswald Bayer to support his 3 theses:

    1)…Luther…the Law only applies to…the question ….what shall we do? [and] ..what [are]… the content of good works.
    2) The Law…[does not make]… good works occur…[or] fuel… works of love. The Law demands and directs… [but the Law does NOT ] deliver and drive.
    3) For Luther….[good works] always follow the pattern of 1 John 4.19: “We love because he first loved us.” Works of love flow from prior belovedness.

    So the Law only has a negative purpose: It accuses and kills and so curbs or prevents lawlessness, but it has no positive power. The Law cannot make Goodness and Mercy or Good Works happen. Good Works can ONLY happen after the Gospel has been spoken .

    Is this true?

    By the way. This is NOT Luther´s position at all!
    Even reason rejects this. God rules everything in order to make the same Fatherly Goodness and Mercy happen. He does this in two ways: by driving it with the Law and by incarnating it in the Holy Gospel. It is evident to anyone that even pagans do Goodness and Mercy. Even those without bibles or faith in God.

    Now it IS true that Luther says that no truly good works can be done apart from faith. But how does he mean that? He means it this way:

    The only Good Works that do not accuse us and condemn us are the ones that are driven by faith. HOW are those good works driven by faith? The Law drives the believer and then the Gospel invites the Believer to hide those works in the Works of Another. That is how the good works of faith escape the accusing and killing judgement of God.

    This man is suggesting that the works of Christians are QUALITATIVELY different. So it is faith as something we can do that makes the works different.

    LINDEBAUGH
    …1) [There is the] conditional and condemning function of the Law. and
    2) the descriptive and directive statement of God’s will [in the gospel context]
    3) [this distinction] is essential for understanding the purpose and place of New Testament imperatives, not to mention the Ten Commandments.

    …In other words, the ears of faith are free to hear a commandment without a condition because the Christian conscience listens not to the condition and curse of the Law, but to the Christ in whom there is no condemnation (Rom 8.1).

    FWS Lutherans call this teaching by the name “Antinomianism”. This is where christians think that the Law does not apply to Christians who live “in the Gospel context”.

    Specifically these Christians believe that there either is no Law for Christians, or if there is, then that is a Law that does not accuse or kill. They think that the Law is done away with merely by deleting the word” And so the Law then is called “gospel imperatives” or “gospel commands” or “gospel reminders” or “gospel exhortations”. But these things are all still Law. And the Law always accuses and kills.

    But what about where the Bible says that “there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? And doesn´t St Paul also say that we died to the Law and that the Law no longer has the power to accuse us?

    Only faith can know and do 3 things:

    1) only faith can accept the judgement of God and be terrified at all our best and most sanctified keeping of any command , imperative or law of God conditional or unconditional.

    2) and then only faith knows to hide ALL those works in the Works of Another. Only then can the conscience rest and not be accused by the Law.

    3) then faith knows that works are all about our death for the creaturely perishable earthly lives of others. Faith knows that works are about our death. Our Life is alone in the Works of Another! So faith is busy killing itself in the form of Old Adam to give life to others.

  • fws

    LINEBAUGH God’s words that accuse and kill typically do their work of condemnation in the form of a commandment attached to a condition .

    FWS Is this true? Where is the “condition” here? And why does that NOT matter?

    “the preaching of the suffering and death of Christ, the Son of God,
    a) is an earnest and terrible proclamation and declaration of God’s wrath,
    b) whereby men are first led into the Law aright, after the veil of Moses has been removed from them,
    c) so that they first know aright how great things God in His Law requires of us, none of which we can do , and therefore
    d) are to seek all our righteousness in Christ. (Formula of Concord )”http://www.bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#part5.9

    LINEBAUGH …example, … Paul sums up the salvation-logic of the Law … “the one who does [the commandments] will live by them”…a promise of life… condition[ed upon doing] …and a corresponding threat …[if they are not done].
    This conditional word encounters …sinful human [and man is condemned]

    FWS So note that Lindebaugh is talking about the “Veiled Law.” The “Veil” of the Law is Reason, which is the Law God has written in the minds of even men without faith or Bibles (Rom 2:15).

    http://www.esvbible.org/search/Rom+2%3A15%2C+17-29/

    The veiled Law is this:

    12] And Paul teaches 2 Cor. 3:15 sq., the veil that covered the face of Moses cannot be removed except by faith in Christ, by which the Holy Ghost is received.

    For he speaks thus: But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

    13] Paul understands by the veil the human opinion concerning the entire Law, the Decalog and the ceremonies, namely, that hypocrites think that external and civil works satisfy the Law of God, and that sacrifices and observances justify before God ex opere operato (“ex opere operatio” is that the works themselves can satisfy the law´s requirements, so the Law of God operates like the keeping of government laws).

    14] But then this veil is removed from us, i.e., we are freed from this error when God shows to our hearts our uncleanness and the heinousness of sin.

    Then, for the first time, we see that we are far from fulfilling the Law.

    Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us.

    But when, on hearing the Gospel and the remission of sins, we are consoled by faith, we receive the Holy Ghost so that now we are able to think aright concerning God, and to fear and believe God, etc. From these facts it is apparent that the Law cannot be kept without Christ and the Holy Ghost.

    So the Lutheran position is that even pagans can outwardly know and keep the Laws of God! The Veil of Moses is the opinion that this outward keeping is enough. But then the Law tells us that God demands a keeping that is from our entire heart. This even Believers simply can never do. Why not? The Old Adam still clings to them! Old Adam is the very nature and essence of the will, heart, mind and soul even of Believers!

    Then Linebaugh makes this assertion as his Thesis:

    LINEBAUGH It is thus the condition that does the work of condemnation. “Ifs” kill!

    FWS Now Linebaugh is going to tell us about imperatives/commands that do not accuse and kill because they are not Divine Law. Why not? They are “unconditional commands/imperatives”!

    You should be now asking yourself why this distinction even matters.

    Watch:

    LINEBAUGH Compare this to …New Testament imperatives. ..consider Galatians 5.1. …Paul issues …imperatives: “…stand firm…do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.” Do these imperatives…accuse and kill? …. No!

    FWS Ok. The fact is we can´t do this! We don´t do this! We sin. Luther:

    Luther: You must not understand the word LAW here in human fashion, i.e., a regulation about what sort of works must be done or must not be done. That’s the way it is with human laws: you satisfy the demands of the law with works, whether your heart is in it or not. God judges what is in the depths of the heart. Therefore his law also makes demands on the depths of the heart and doesn’t let the heart rest content in works; rather it punishes as hypocrisy and lies all works done apart from the depths of the heart. All human beings are called liars (Psalm 116), since none of them keeps or can keep God’s law from the depths of the heart. Everyone finds inside himself an aversion to good and a craving for evil. Where there is no free desire for good, there the heart has not set itself on God’s law. There also sin is surely to be found and the deserved wrath of God, whether a lot of good works and an honorable life appear outwardly or not.

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

    But Lindebaugh insists that this sort of command does not accuse us. Why not? Linebaugh claims there are 3 reasons why not:
    a) There are Divine commands/imperatives that do not accuse us or kill us BECAUSE they are not Divine Laws! Why not?
    b) To qualify as Divine Law, a Divine Command must always have a condition attached.
    c) There are “unconditional Divine Commands/Imperatives” that are therefore not Divine Law and therefore do not accuse or kill us.
    Let him finish and tell us this in his own words:

    LINDEBAUGH are these commandments with conditions? Is Galatians 5.1 an example of Law? The command here is precisely to not return to the Law; it is an imperative to stand firm in freedom from the Law.

    FWS So he is saying that a) There is no condition here b) so this command is not Divine Law and c) therefore does not condemn. Is that true? But what about St Pauls command to not return to the Law? Do we obey that command? Should we not feel accused there?

    Don´t even we christians return again and again like a dog to it´s vomit to the Law to self justify? When our conscience troubles us, don´t we anxiously try to escape this by making lists of things to do or that we did? And so we prove that we are really phoney christians and would rather rely upon our own works or faith or right believing or right emotional response to God rather than alone rely upon the Works of Another. The lifelong and most difficult task of any Christian, and what alone makes one a Christian, is to surrender to the Works of Another alone as what we offer to God to appease his wrath and have peace for our conscience.

    LINDEBAUGH John 8.11. …Jesus said to [the adulterous woman], “Neither do I condemn you. Depart. From now on, sin no more.” Is this a commandment with a condition?
    No! “Neither do I condemn you” is categorical and unconditional, it comes with no strings attached.

    FWS Interesting. Note that Jesus did not merely tell this woman to stop being a whore. We could actually imagine that the woman could stop doing that. But that is not what Jesus said is it? He said this: Stop sinning! You think that this word did not accuse her? Does it not accuse you? Did Jesus not mean what he said that way? Would Jesus as God demand of someone to do what they could NOT do? Yes. The Law always accuses.

    Now here is where it gets interesting. Linebaugh says that if there is an accusing and killing Law that remains after the word of the Gospel, that this would then cancel the Gospel! Is that true? Watch:

    LINDEBAUGH “Neither do I condemn you” creates an unconditional context within which “go and sin no more” is not an “if.” The only “if” the Gospel knows is this: “if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2.1).

    FWS So ” in the context of the Gospel”
    a) there is no such thing as “conditional Law”.
    b) Therefore no Divine commands/imperatives are Divine Law.
    c) therefore Divine command/imperative never accuse or kill us.
    Is this true? And why is he pushing for this thesis? Lindebaugh goes on:

    LINDEBAUGH Does this final imperative disqualify the words of mercy? Is this Law following the Gospel?

    FWS Note that Lindebaugh is claiming this: After the Gospel, there can be no Law because if that were true, then the Law would cancel out the Gospel. Why? The Law always accuses and kills! So then it follows from this that whenever God commands us to do something after we are Christian it is no longer Law, and , this action, whatever we call it, no longer accuses us or kills us. Is this true?

    LINDEBAUGH This would be Law: “if you go and sin no more, then neither will I condemn you.” But Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” The command is not a condition.

    FWS So now he tries to enlist no less than Luther and Oswald Bayer to support his 3 theses:

    1)…Luther…the Law only applies to…the question ….what shall we do? [and] ..what [are]… the content of good works.
    2) The Law…[does not make]… good works occur…[or] fuel… works of love. The Law demands and directs… [but the Law does NOT ] deliver and drive.
    3) For Luther….[good works] always follow the pattern of 1 John 4.19: “We love because he first loved us.” Works of love flow from prior belovedness.

    So the Law only has a negative purpose: It accuses and kills and so curbs or prevents lawlessness, but it has no positive power. The Law cannot make Goodness and Mercy or Good Works happen. Good Works can ONLY happen after the Gospel has been spoken .

    Is this true?

    By the way. This is NOT Luther´s position at all!
    Even reason rejects this. God rules everything in order to make the same Fatherly Goodness and Mercy happen. He does this in two ways: by driving it with the Law and by incarnating it in the Holy Gospel. It is evident to anyone that even pagans do Goodness and Mercy. Even those without bibles or faith in God.

    Now it IS true that Luther says that no truly good works can be done apart from faith. But how does he mean that? He means it this way:

    The only Good Works that do not accuse us and condemn us are the ones that are driven by faith. HOW are those good works driven by faith? The Law drives the believer and then the Gospel invites the Believer to hide those works in the Works of Another. That is how the good works of faith escape the accusing and killing judgement of God.

    This man is suggesting that the works of Christians are QUALITATIVELY different. So it is faith as something we can do that makes the works different.

    LINDEBAUGH
    …1) [There is the] conditional and condemning function of the Law. and
    2) the descriptive and directive statement of God’s will [in the gospel context]
    3) [this distinction] is essential for understanding the purpose and place of New Testament imperatives, not to mention the Ten Commandments.

    …In other words, the ears of faith are free to hear a commandment without a condition because the Christian conscience listens not to the condition and curse of the Law, but to the Christ in whom there is no condemnation (Rom 8.1).

    FWS Lutherans call this teaching by the name “Antinomianism”. This is where christians think that the Law does not apply to Christians who live “in the Gospel context”.

    Specifically these Christians believe that there either is no Law for Christians, or if there is, then that is a Law that does not accuse or kill. They think that the Law is done away with merely by deleting the word” And so the Law then is called “gospel imperatives” or “gospel commands” or “gospel reminders” or “gospel exhortations”. But these things are all still Law. And the Law always accuses and kills.

    But what about where the Bible says that “there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? And doesn´t St Paul also say that we died to the Law and that the Law no longer has the power to accuse us?

    Only faith can know and do 3 things:

    1) only faith can accept the judgement of God and be terrified at all our best and most sanctified keeping of any command , imperative or law of God conditional or unconditional.

    2) and then only faith knows to hide ALL those works in the Works of Another. Only then can the conscience rest and not be accused by the Law.

    3) then faith knows that works are all about our death for the creaturely perishable earthly lives of others. Faith knows that works are about our death. Our Life is alone in the Works of Another! So faith is busy killing itself in the form of Old Adam to give life to others.

  • George A. Marquart

    We cannot possibly understand the Third Use without a proper understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of each individual member of God’s Kingdom, the Church. Unfortunately, Sasse was right when he wrote words to the effect that “the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has lost its citizenship in church and congregation.”

    When we speak of Christian motivation as if we are not organically different creatures from those who have not been baptized and have not received the gift (not the gifts – that too, but first He comes to dwell in us Himself) of the Holy Spirit, then motivation becomes exactly what Jono Linebaugh writes: “1 John 4.19: “We love because he first loved us.” Works of love flow from prior belovedness.” But he fails to note that before these words St. John, in verse 15 of the same chapter writes, “God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God.” So our love is not caused by our understanding that God loves us, but by God loving us first and coming to dwell in us and making it possible for us to love.

    To do good because we were done good to is nothing less than returning a favor for a favor – and this is Law, not Gospel. Without a change in our nature we cannot do good no matter how persuasively the Gospel is preached to us. Once we recognize that, as St. Paul writes, 1 Cor. 2:15, “But we have the mind of Christ,” then we need no motivation to do good, because our minds are set on doing good, and we do so freely.

    This is precisely what the SDFC says in the section on the Third Use: “For as long as man is not regenerate, and [therefore] conducts himself according to the Law and does the works because they are commanded thus, from fear of punishment or desire for reward, he is still under the Law, and his works are called by St. Paul properly works of the Law, for they are extorted by the Law, as those of slaves; and these are saints after the order of Cain [that is, hypocrites]. 17] But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says, Rom. 8:2 [Rom. 7:23; 1 Cor. 9:21 ].”

    Unfortunately many or our pastors promote the “motivation” theory, much to the detriment of the Gospel. We are also not very comfortable with the Holy Spirit, because all of Luther’s railings against the Schwärmer makes any mention of the Holy Spirit suspect. There is also a plague of Pietists among us who would deny any good in regenerate man and have us constantly groveling before God in self-inflicted humility and dejection.

    But when we understand what it means to be born again of water and of the Spirit (see, we don’t feel comfortable with that, so Luther preferred “of water and the Word), then the Third Use becomes crystal clear.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    We cannot possibly understand the Third Use without a proper understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of each individual member of God’s Kingdom, the Church. Unfortunately, Sasse was right when he wrote words to the effect that “the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has lost its citizenship in church and congregation.”

    When we speak of Christian motivation as if we are not organically different creatures from those who have not been baptized and have not received the gift (not the gifts – that too, but first He comes to dwell in us Himself) of the Holy Spirit, then motivation becomes exactly what Jono Linebaugh writes: “1 John 4.19: “We love because he first loved us.” Works of love flow from prior belovedness.” But he fails to note that before these words St. John, in verse 15 of the same chapter writes, “God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God.” So our love is not caused by our understanding that God loves us, but by God loving us first and coming to dwell in us and making it possible for us to love.

    To do good because we were done good to is nothing less than returning a favor for a favor – and this is Law, not Gospel. Without a change in our nature we cannot do good no matter how persuasively the Gospel is preached to us. Once we recognize that, as St. Paul writes, 1 Cor. 2:15, “But we have the mind of Christ,” then we need no motivation to do good, because our minds are set on doing good, and we do so freely.

    This is precisely what the SDFC says in the section on the Third Use: “For as long as man is not regenerate, and [therefore] conducts himself according to the Law and does the works because they are commanded thus, from fear of punishment or desire for reward, he is still under the Law, and his works are called by St. Paul properly works of the Law, for they are extorted by the Law, as those of slaves; and these are saints after the order of Cain [that is, hypocrites]. 17] But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says, Rom. 8:2 [Rom. 7:23; 1 Cor. 9:21 ].”

    Unfortunately many or our pastors promote the “motivation” theory, much to the detriment of the Gospel. We are also not very comfortable with the Holy Spirit, because all of Luther’s railings against the Schwärmer makes any mention of the Holy Spirit suspect. There is also a plague of Pietists among us who would deny any good in regenerate man and have us constantly groveling before God in self-inflicted humility and dejection.

    But when we understand what it means to be born again of water and of the Spirit (see, we don’t feel comfortable with that, so Luther preferred “of water and the Word), then the Third Use becomes crystal clear.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Tom Hering

    “Unfortunately many or our pastors promote the ‘motivation’ theory, much to the detriment of the Gospel.” – George A. Marquart @ 12.

    I just remembered an old “memo” joke.

    “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

  • Tom Hering

    “Unfortunately many or our pastors promote the ‘motivation’ theory, much to the detriment of the Gospel.” – George A. Marquart @ 12.

    I just remembered an old “memo” joke.

    “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

  • Abby

    17] But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says, Rom. 8:2 [Rom. 7:23; 1 Cor. 9:21 ].

    Is this different from the Reformed teaching of “Progressive Sanctification?” I’m reading a book called “Holiness by Grace, by Bryan Chappell. It sounds the same.

  • Abby

    17] But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says, Rom. 8:2 [Rom. 7:23; 1 Cor. 9:21 ].

    Is this different from the Reformed teaching of “Progressive Sanctification?” I’m reading a book called “Holiness by Grace, by Bryan Chappell. It sounds the same.

  • WebMonk

    No, that’s not called Progressive Sanctification!! That term was not developed by Lutherans, and so it is a false and pernicious attack on the proper distinction between Law and Gospel which is the very foundation of understanding all of God’s Word!! (err, wait, maybe the Real Presence is the foundation, or altar fellowship, or something like that ;-)

  • WebMonk

    No, that’s not called Progressive Sanctification!! That term was not developed by Lutherans, and so it is a false and pernicious attack on the proper distinction between Law and Gospel which is the very foundation of understanding all of God’s Word!! (err, wait, maybe the Real Presence is the foundation, or altar fellowship, or something like that ;-)

  • kerner

    Webmonk:

    HeHe! It IS kind of interesting to see the overlap between Lutheran and other Christian theologies. Did you catch the reference to the fruit of being “born anew” (born again)?

    17] But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says, Rom. 8:2 [Rom. 7:23; 1 Cor. 9:21 ].

    But Lutherans shouldn’t worry. I am confident that our theology of what it means to be “born anew” can be distinguished from the theology of contemporary American Evangelicals on that subject.

  • kerner

    Webmonk:

    HeHe! It IS kind of interesting to see the overlap between Lutheran and other Christian theologies. Did you catch the reference to the fruit of being “born anew” (born again)?

    17] But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says, Rom. 8:2 [Rom. 7:23; 1 Cor. 9:21 ].

    But Lutherans shouldn’t worry. I am confident that our theology of what it means to be “born anew” can be distinguished from the theology of contemporary American Evangelicals on that subject.

  • Abby

    I’m wondering if there is a paper on the subject of comparing and defining these two terms? Maybe someone (one of us) should write a book and help us out with the semantics between the two.

  • Abby

    I’m wondering if there is a paper on the subject of comparing and defining these two terms? Maybe someone (one of us) should write a book and help us out with the semantics between the two.

  • Pingback: Series on God’s Law « Reforming Michigan

  • Pingback: Series on God’s Law « Reforming Michigan

  • fws

    abby @ 17

    The phrase that makes this depart from the reformed is here:

    “and so far as he is born anew”.

    So the question is this: how far do Lutherans think that a Believer is born anew according to what he can see when he examines his life as a Christian?

    Formula of Concord, Art I Original Sin:

    8] 3. But, on the other hand, we believe, teach, and confess that original sin is not a slight, but so deep a corruption of human nature that nothing healthy or uncorrupt has remained in man’s body or soul, in his inner or outward powers, but, as the Church sings:
    Through Adam’s fall is all corrupt,
    Nature and essence human.
    9] This damage is unspeakable, and cannot be discerned by reason, but only from God’s Word.
    http://bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#part1.8

    And then this:

    the preaching of the suffering and death of Christ, the Son of God, is an earnest and terrible proclamation and declaration of God’s wrath, whereby men are first led into the Law …so that they first know aright how great things God in His Law requires of us, none of which we can observe , and therefore are to seek all our righteousness in Christ http://bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#part5.9

    and this:

    Augsburg Confessions XX Good Works
    16]…As Paul teaches Rom. 5, 1: 16] ” Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” 17] This whole doctrine is to be referred to that conflict of the terrified conscience, neither can it be understood apart from that conflict.

    and this….

    Apology art III “On Love and the fulfilling of the Law”:
    32] But faith is that which freely apprehends God’s mercy on account of God’s Word which relies upon God’s mercy and Word,
    and not upon one’s own work. If any one denies that this is faith if any one imagines that he can rely at the same time upon God and his own works, he does not understand at all 33] what faith is. For the terrified conscience is not satisfied with its own works , but must cry after mercy, and is comforted and encouraged alone by God’s Word.

    or this

    Apology Art XII “Of Repentence”
    9] When, however, will a terrified conscience, especially in those serious, true, and great terrors which are described in the psalms and the prophets, and which those certainly taste who are truly converted , be able to decide whether it fears God for His own sake [out of love it fears God, as its God], or is fleeing from eternal punishments?

    or this…

    Apology XXIV “Of the Mass”
    “73] … And this is the principal use of the Sacrament, in which it is apparent who are fit for the Sacrament, namely, terrified consciences, and how they ought to use it.”
    69] For Christians who are of weak faith, diffident, troubled, and heartily terrified because of the greatness and number of their sins, and think that in this their great impurity they are not worthy of this precious treasure and the benefits of Christ, and who feel and lament their weakness of faith, and from their hearts desire that they may serve God with stronger, more joyful faith and pure obedience, they are the truly worthy guests for whom this highly venerable Sacrament [and sacred feast] has been especially instituted and appointed; 70] as Christ says, Matt. 11, 28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Also Matt. 9, 12: They that be whole need not a physician, but they that be sick. Also [2 Cor. 12, 9]: God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. Also [Rom. 14, 1]: Him that is weak in the faith receive ye [14, 3], for God hath received him. For whosoever believeth in the Son of God, be it with a strong or with a weak faith, has eternal life [John 3, 15f. ].
    71] And worthiness does not depend upon great or small weakness or strength of faith, but upon the merit of Christ, which the distressed father of little faith [Mark 9, 24] enjoyed as well as Abraham, Paul, and others who have a joyful and strong faith.

  • fws

    abby @ 17

    The phrase that makes this depart from the reformed is here:

    “and so far as he is born anew”.

    So the question is this: how far do Lutherans think that a Believer is born anew according to what he can see when he examines his life as a Christian?

    Formula of Concord, Art I Original Sin:

    8] 3. But, on the other hand, we believe, teach, and confess that original sin is not a slight, but so deep a corruption of human nature that nothing healthy or uncorrupt has remained in man’s body or soul, in his inner or outward powers, but, as the Church sings:
    Through Adam’s fall is all corrupt,
    Nature and essence human.
    9] This damage is unspeakable, and cannot be discerned by reason, but only from God’s Word.
    http://bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#part1.8

    And then this:

    the preaching of the suffering and death of Christ, the Son of God, is an earnest and terrible proclamation and declaration of God’s wrath, whereby men are first led into the Law …so that they first know aright how great things God in His Law requires of us, none of which we can observe , and therefore are to seek all our righteousness in Christ http://bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#part5.9

    and this:

    Augsburg Confessions XX Good Works
    16]…As Paul teaches Rom. 5, 1: 16] ” Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” 17] This whole doctrine is to be referred to that conflict of the terrified conscience, neither can it be understood apart from that conflict.

    and this….

    Apology art III “On Love and the fulfilling of the Law”:
    32] But faith is that which freely apprehends God’s mercy on account of God’s Word which relies upon God’s mercy and Word,
    and not upon one’s own work. If any one denies that this is faith if any one imagines that he can rely at the same time upon God and his own works, he does not understand at all 33] what faith is. For the terrified conscience is not satisfied with its own works , but must cry after mercy, and is comforted and encouraged alone by God’s Word.

    or this

    Apology Art XII “Of Repentence”
    9] When, however, will a terrified conscience, especially in those serious, true, and great terrors which are described in the psalms and the prophets, and which those certainly taste who are truly converted , be able to decide whether it fears God for His own sake [out of love it fears God, as its God], or is fleeing from eternal punishments?

    or this…

    Apology XXIV “Of the Mass”
    “73] … And this is the principal use of the Sacrament, in which it is apparent who are fit for the Sacrament, namely, terrified consciences, and how they ought to use it.”
    69] For Christians who are of weak faith, diffident, troubled, and heartily terrified because of the greatness and number of their sins, and think that in this their great impurity they are not worthy of this precious treasure and the benefits of Christ, and who feel and lament their weakness of faith, and from their hearts desire that they may serve God with stronger, more joyful faith and pure obedience, they are the truly worthy guests for whom this highly venerable Sacrament [and sacred feast] has been especially instituted and appointed; 70] as Christ says, Matt. 11, 28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Also Matt. 9, 12: They that be whole need not a physician, but they that be sick. Also [2 Cor. 12, 9]: God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. Also [Rom. 14, 1]: Him that is weak in the faith receive ye [14, 3], for God hath received him. For whosoever believeth in the Son of God, be it with a strong or with a weak faith, has eternal life [John 3, 15f. ].
    71] And worthiness does not depend upon great or small weakness or strength of faith, but upon the merit of Christ, which the distressed father of little faith [Mark 9, 24] enjoyed as well as Abraham, Paul, and others who have a joyful and strong faith.

  • fws

    abby @ 14

    The difference between the Reformed and Lutherans as to sanctification is this and it is very very simple:

    Lutherans look for their death in sanctification. They look for the mortification of Old Adam. So the Christian life for a Lutheran all about a deathing of Old Adam for the sake of doing Goodness and Mercy for our neighbor. We seek our Life alone in faith in the Works of Another. The christian life then looks like a death.

    Anthony Sacramone neatly describes what that difference looks like here:

    http://strangeherring.com/2011/09/29/michele-bachmann-threatens-liberty-university-students-god-has-a-plan-for-you/

    The Reformed truly look for Life in sanctification. A victorious christian Life. And this is directed to the Glory of God and not primarily and only on doing Goodness and Mercy for neighbor as is the case for a Lutheran Christian.

  • fws

    abby @ 14

    The difference between the Reformed and Lutherans as to sanctification is this and it is very very simple:

    Lutherans look for their death in sanctification. They look for the mortification of Old Adam. So the Christian life for a Lutheran all about a deathing of Old Adam for the sake of doing Goodness and Mercy for our neighbor. We seek our Life alone in faith in the Works of Another. The christian life then looks like a death.

    Anthony Sacramone neatly describes what that difference looks like here:

    http://strangeherring.com/2011/09/29/michele-bachmann-threatens-liberty-university-students-god-has-a-plan-for-you/

    The Reformed truly look for Life in sanctification. A victorious christian Life. And this is directed to the Glory of God and not primarily and only on doing Goodness and Mercy for neighbor as is the case for a Lutheran Christian.

  • Abby

    fws @ 18,19 : All that you have written I have experienced in my heart. It is hard to understand with my reason though. And this “dying to self” is hard to do. And I do a poor job of it. That is why Holy Communion gives me such refreshment of spirit–until I need it again.

    For the life of me, I can’t understand the third use of the Law. Thank you for taking so much time to respond with your answers. It is the “strong bearing with the failings of the weak.” It is so helpful to find these good answers on the internet!

  • Abby

    fws @ 18,19 : All that you have written I have experienced in my heart. It is hard to understand with my reason though. And this “dying to self” is hard to do. And I do a poor job of it. That is why Holy Communion gives me such refreshment of spirit–until I need it again.

    For the life of me, I can’t understand the third use of the Law. Thank you for taking so much time to respond with your answers. It is the “strong bearing with the failings of the weak.” It is so helpful to find these good answers on the internet!

  • kerner

    Abby:

    The short answer ti your question is that the third use of the law is that it is a guide. We are truly told that we should show goodness and mercy to our neighbor. But how do we do that? Just make it up as we go along? No. The Formula of Concord says:

    For the Law says indeed that it is God’s will and command that we should walk in a new life, but it does not give the power and ability to begin and do it; but the Holy Ghost, who is given and received, not through the Law, but through the preaching of the Gospel, Gal. 3:14, renews the heart. 12] Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the Law so as to teach the regenerate from it, and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is the [good and] acceptable will of God, Rom. 12:2, in what good works God hath before ordained that they should walk, Eph. 2:10. He exhorts them thereto, and when they are idle, negligent, and rebellious in this matter because of the flesh, He reproves them on that account through the Law, so that He carries on both offices together: He slays and makes alive; He leads into hell and brings up again.” SDFC 11-12

    and

    So, too, this doctrine of the Law is needful for believers, in order that they may not hit upon a holiness and devotion of their own, and under the pretext of the Spirit of God set up a self-chosen worship, without God’s Word and command, as it is written Deut. 12:8,28,32: Ye shall not do … every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes, etc., but observe and hear all these words which I command thee. Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish therefrom. SDFC 20

    So, ion every situation, as the Holy Spirit moves you to show love and mercy to your neighbor, look to the law for a guide as to how to do so. The Small Catechism gives us some guidance in the article devoted to the Ten Commandments, expecially the “positive sides” of the Commandments. And the Large Catechism gives even more detail. Look for ways to show love and mercy to people you know in the positive exhortations of the Commandments.

  • kerner

    Abby:

    The short answer ti your question is that the third use of the law is that it is a guide. We are truly told that we should show goodness and mercy to our neighbor. But how do we do that? Just make it up as we go along? No. The Formula of Concord says:

    For the Law says indeed that it is God’s will and command that we should walk in a new life, but it does not give the power and ability to begin and do it; but the Holy Ghost, who is given and received, not through the Law, but through the preaching of the Gospel, Gal. 3:14, renews the heart. 12] Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the Law so as to teach the regenerate from it, and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is the [good and] acceptable will of God, Rom. 12:2, in what good works God hath before ordained that they should walk, Eph. 2:10. He exhorts them thereto, and when they are idle, negligent, and rebellious in this matter because of the flesh, He reproves them on that account through the Law, so that He carries on both offices together: He slays and makes alive; He leads into hell and brings up again.” SDFC 11-12

    and

    So, too, this doctrine of the Law is needful for believers, in order that they may not hit upon a holiness and devotion of their own, and under the pretext of the Spirit of God set up a self-chosen worship, without God’s Word and command, as it is written Deut. 12:8,28,32: Ye shall not do … every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes, etc., but observe and hear all these words which I command thee. Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish therefrom. SDFC 20

    So, ion every situation, as the Holy Spirit moves you to show love and mercy to your neighbor, look to the law for a guide as to how to do so. The Small Catechism gives us some guidance in the article devoted to the Ten Commandments, expecially the “positive sides” of the Commandments. And the Large Catechism gives even more detail. Look for ways to show love and mercy to people you know in the positive exhortations of the Commandments.

  • Abby

    Kerner @21: Your answer simplifies the problem. I never would have thought to have looked at it like that. I confess, I have a very difficult time with the understanding between the Law and the Gospel/Grace (because I wonder how to BE holy–also why the title of the book “Holiness by Grace” grabbed me.). Which is why “Reformed-style” I sometimes have trouble “knowing” my status. But I am learning—more of late than for a long time during my life. And I know the Holy Spirit is involved with teaching me.

    ” . . . look to the law for a guide as to how to do so” . . . You know, I read Psalm 119 recently. And I couldn’t understand David’s words in light of his sinful actions. David loved the Law and “meditated on it day and night.” But the Law didn’t help David be holy. And he had to confess and call to God for mercy and forgiveness. (100% sinner/100% saint—that is also hard to grasp!) Thinking about that, and with what you said, it makes sense.

    Thank you also, for taking the time to give such a good answer! (Someone once told me that if I read a room full of books I would not find the answer because they’re just words. I don’t believe that. I believe there are answers.)

  • Abby

    Kerner @21: Your answer simplifies the problem. I never would have thought to have looked at it like that. I confess, I have a very difficult time with the understanding between the Law and the Gospel/Grace (because I wonder how to BE holy–also why the title of the book “Holiness by Grace” grabbed me.). Which is why “Reformed-style” I sometimes have trouble “knowing” my status. But I am learning—more of late than for a long time during my life. And I know the Holy Spirit is involved with teaching me.

    ” . . . look to the law for a guide as to how to do so” . . . You know, I read Psalm 119 recently. And I couldn’t understand David’s words in light of his sinful actions. David loved the Law and “meditated on it day and night.” But the Law didn’t help David be holy. And he had to confess and call to God for mercy and forgiveness. (100% sinner/100% saint—that is also hard to grasp!) Thinking about that, and with what you said, it makes sense.

    Thank you also, for taking the time to give such a good answer! (Someone once told me that if I read a room full of books I would not find the answer because they’re just words. I don’t believe that. I believe there are answers.)

  • fws

    kerner @ 21

    +1!

    You are getting good at this Law stuff Kerner!

  • fws

    kerner @ 21

    +1!

    You are getting good at this Law stuff Kerner!

  • fws

    Abby @ 20

    Only faith can know to do three things:

    Faith looks at ALL it can do , even its most sanctified good works and is terrified. Faith accepts the judgement of God is why that is rather than try to overcome or flee that judgement by trying harder as the pharisees did, or by despair as judas.

    secondly faith then knows to hide ALL it´s works in the Works of Another. That is what it means precisely Abby to be IN Christ. Think of the Works of Christ your dear Lord as a vast covering, vaster than the starry sky at night, that hides and covers ALL you can see and do from the wrath of God. Only by thinking of the Works of Christ in that way can you know that the Law no longer gets to accuse you. God can only really and truly become an Object of true fear and love when the Law no longer can accuse us. We are hidden in Christ!

    Thirdly then, faith can know that even though our best works are really just applying Sherman Williams paint in the tone of “sepulcher white” to our Old Adam, yet we still yearn to do those works because our neighbor so depererately needs that Mercy and Goodness and Love from us.

    And we can know that our life is not in that sepulcher of our Old Adam and the works we wring out of him with discipline and by subduing the flesh. Our life is hidden in Christ!

  • fws

    Abby @ 20

    Only faith can know to do three things:

    Faith looks at ALL it can do , even its most sanctified good works and is terrified. Faith accepts the judgement of God is why that is rather than try to overcome or flee that judgement by trying harder as the pharisees did, or by despair as judas.

    secondly faith then knows to hide ALL it´s works in the Works of Another. That is what it means precisely Abby to be IN Christ. Think of the Works of Christ your dear Lord as a vast covering, vaster than the starry sky at night, that hides and covers ALL you can see and do from the wrath of God. Only by thinking of the Works of Christ in that way can you know that the Law no longer gets to accuse you. God can only really and truly become an Object of true fear and love when the Law no longer can accuse us. We are hidden in Christ!

    Thirdly then, faith can know that even though our best works are really just applying Sherman Williams paint in the tone of “sepulcher white” to our Old Adam, yet we still yearn to do those works because our neighbor so depererately needs that Mercy and Goodness and Love from us.

    And we can know that our life is not in that sepulcher of our Old Adam and the works we wring out of him with discipline and by subduing the flesh. Our life is hidden in Christ!

  • fws

    Abby @ 20

    And our dear Kerner here is exactly right! Even though the Law always kills and accuses us, now you Abby as a new woman who´s Life is hidden in Christ, can use the Law you find in the Bible to make your Old Adam submit, and kill him, (latin: mortify) in order to be the person you want to be in Christ who is useful to others, for those that you love and for your own self as well.

  • fws

    Abby @ 20

    And our dear Kerner here is exactly right! Even though the Law always kills and accuses us, now you Abby as a new woman who´s Life is hidden in Christ, can use the Law you find in the Bible to make your Old Adam submit, and kill him, (latin: mortify) in order to be the person you want to be in Christ who is useful to others, for those that you love and for your own self as well.

  • Abby

    fws and Kerner: Boy, you guys all make me cry! You are so kind. Tullian says that “only Grace can melt the human heart.” Everytime I hear it like that I am the sinful woman of Luke 7—at Jesus’ feet, not able to say a word. And then He gives me the “gift.”
    Through you all.

    Thank you, sincerely.

  • Abby

    fws and Kerner: Boy, you guys all make me cry! You are so kind. Tullian says that “only Grace can melt the human heart.” Everytime I hear it like that I am the sinful woman of Luke 7—at Jesus’ feet, not able to say a word. And then He gives me the “gift.”
    Through you all.

    Thank you, sincerely.

  • fws

    Abby @ 26

    There is one more thing I need to share with you that is really important. Our Confessions tell us that the only appropriate response when we look at any of our good works, even the sanctified ones, is to be terrified.

    Now Old Adam, when he hears this, since he is deeply religious, will then set about upon a project of learning to be terrified over his sins. He will work up that emotional response as something HE can DO.

    This “terror” business is descriptive, not prescriptive. It is what simply will happen as we come to know the Law of God without the Mosaic Veil of legalism. But what if we don´t feel this? What then? Does it mean that we are not christian? Nope.

    Then Luther suggests that we simply believe what God´s Word says about us and our sinfulness. This is how he suggests we learn to do that:

    Why do you wish to go to the Sacrament?
    That I may learn to believe that Christ, out of great love, died for my sin, and also learn from Him to love God and my neighbor.

    19. What should admonish and encourage a Christian to receive the Sacrament frequently?
    First, both the command and the promise of Christ the Lord. Second, his own pressing need, because of which the command, encouragement, and promise are given.

    20. But what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?
    To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7. Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15-16 and in 1 John 2 and 5. Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2.

    From the Small Catechism, in the section on Christian Questions and Their Answers (in preparation for the Holy Communion)
    http://bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php#qanda

    I hope this helps you Abby, and I am grateful that what Kerner and I have been able to present to you so far has been a comfort.

    When someone teaches you in a way that you are comforted because you then know to rely on Christ and his Works alone, then that is a mark that someone is telling you the Truth that the entire Scriptures was created to impart to sinful men.

    If you are taught in such a way as to doubt or question your faith, that alone is in the Works of Another, then something surely is wrong.

    Now for someone to ask you to question your OWN faith, or the strength of it , or the quality of it, that is necessary. We would certainly all be lost if our salvation depended even in the tiniest way upon our knowing how to believe or repent properly.

    We. Don´t.

    We simply cling to that cross in a way that only EMPTY hands are able to cling! And we hide our best Virtue and good works, All of them, inside the Works of Another who loved us and died for us even as we , even now,fail always to love him back as we should or even love our neighbor as we want to be loved.

  • fws

    Abby @ 26

    There is one more thing I need to share with you that is really important. Our Confessions tell us that the only appropriate response when we look at any of our good works, even the sanctified ones, is to be terrified.

    Now Old Adam, when he hears this, since he is deeply religious, will then set about upon a project of learning to be terrified over his sins. He will work up that emotional response as something HE can DO.

    This “terror” business is descriptive, not prescriptive. It is what simply will happen as we come to know the Law of God without the Mosaic Veil of legalism. But what if we don´t feel this? What then? Does it mean that we are not christian? Nope.

    Then Luther suggests that we simply believe what God´s Word says about us and our sinfulness. This is how he suggests we learn to do that:

    Why do you wish to go to the Sacrament?
    That I may learn to believe that Christ, out of great love, died for my sin, and also learn from Him to love God and my neighbor.

    19. What should admonish and encourage a Christian to receive the Sacrament frequently?
    First, both the command and the promise of Christ the Lord. Second, his own pressing need, because of which the command, encouragement, and promise are given.

    20. But what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?
    To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7. Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15-16 and in 1 John 2 and 5. Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2.

    From the Small Catechism, in the section on Christian Questions and Their Answers (in preparation for the Holy Communion)
    http://bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php#qanda

    I hope this helps you Abby, and I am grateful that what Kerner and I have been able to present to you so far has been a comfort.

    When someone teaches you in a way that you are comforted because you then know to rely on Christ and his Works alone, then that is a mark that someone is telling you the Truth that the entire Scriptures was created to impart to sinful men.

    If you are taught in such a way as to doubt or question your faith, that alone is in the Works of Another, then something surely is wrong.

    Now for someone to ask you to question your OWN faith, or the strength of it , or the quality of it, that is necessary. We would certainly all be lost if our salvation depended even in the tiniest way upon our knowing how to believe or repent properly.

    We. Don´t.

    We simply cling to that cross in a way that only EMPTY hands are able to cling! And we hide our best Virtue and good works, All of them, inside the Works of Another who loved us and died for us even as we , even now,fail always to love him back as we should or even love our neighbor as we want to be loved.

  • Abby

    fws @27: “We would certainly all be lost if our salvation depended even in the tiniest way upon our knowing how to believe or repent properly. ” —and/or live. I get caught in this all the time. Which leads me to question whether I have faith or not. But I know I believe. And if my tiny believing is enough (like the woman of Lk 7) then I say, ok. But the devil assails me all the time on this.

    Which is why I am and forever will be Lutheran because of the Sacraments and our doctrine and theology. I love the above quote you included from Martin Luther. I often wonder why Holy Communion is not given weekly everywhere. Because my husband used to be Eastern Orthodox we always attended the Lutheran church where it was served weekly. (Very few and far between–I can’t find one now. I can hardly tolerate only once a month.)

    And, I appreciate how you can “untangle” some of the doctrinal intricasies. I don’t find where I live, Lutheran pastors to present much very deeply.

    “We simply cling to that cross in a way that only EMPTY hands are able to cling!” — I saw a picture in a church office of a stormy sea with a cross floating upright and a man was in the water up to his chin hanging on for dear life. I told the pastor that that was me and I’ve been in that water for a long time. And if that is enough–then I wish I could quit worrying–about sanctification.

    Thanks for talking.

  • Abby

    fws @27: “We would certainly all be lost if our salvation depended even in the tiniest way upon our knowing how to believe or repent properly. ” —and/or live. I get caught in this all the time. Which leads me to question whether I have faith or not. But I know I believe. And if my tiny believing is enough (like the woman of Lk 7) then I say, ok. But the devil assails me all the time on this.

    Which is why I am and forever will be Lutheran because of the Sacraments and our doctrine and theology. I love the above quote you included from Martin Luther. I often wonder why Holy Communion is not given weekly everywhere. Because my husband used to be Eastern Orthodox we always attended the Lutheran church where it was served weekly. (Very few and far between–I can’t find one now. I can hardly tolerate only once a month.)

    And, I appreciate how you can “untangle” some of the doctrinal intricasies. I don’t find where I live, Lutheran pastors to present much very deeply.

    “We simply cling to that cross in a way that only EMPTY hands are able to cling!” — I saw a picture in a church office of a stormy sea with a cross floating upright and a man was in the water up to his chin hanging on for dear life. I told the pastor that that was me and I’ve been in that water for a long time. And if that is enough–then I wish I could quit worrying–about sanctification.

    Thanks for talking.

  • fws

    Abby @ 28

    But I know I believe.

    Better! You know in Whom you believe. Lets suppose that you have no faith and you are a fake christian abby. So then in that case, when Satan comes to tell you that, simply agree with him and tell Satan that Christ came to save ones exactly like you! Faith does not flee the judgement of God. Faith simply knows to hide itself inside the Works of Another. You are safe in the wounded side of your dear Lord Jesus dear Abby.

    Let yourself and everyone else be a liar, but God cannot lie! The Promise he made to you in your baptism is what you can take to God and hold him to that Promise. He loves it when we do that!

    I too need to hear all this constantly dear friend.

  • fws

    Abby @ 28

    But I know I believe.

    Better! You know in Whom you believe. Lets suppose that you have no faith and you are a fake christian abby. So then in that case, when Satan comes to tell you that, simply agree with him and tell Satan that Christ came to save ones exactly like you! Faith does not flee the judgement of God. Faith simply knows to hide itself inside the Works of Another. You are safe in the wounded side of your dear Lord Jesus dear Abby.

    Let yourself and everyone else be a liar, but God cannot lie! The Promise he made to you in your baptism is what you can take to God and hold him to that Promise. He loves it when we do that!

    I too need to hear all this constantly dear friend.

  • Abby

    fws:
    You may not appreciate contemporary Christian music, but I like these two (I do like some others as well):

    “Let yourself and everyone else be a liar, but God cannot lie!” I love that! I do lie to myself and believe lies very easily.

    “The Promise he made to you in your baptism is what you can take to God and hold him to that Promise.” I was taught to do that as a child and I did do it often. But sometime along the way the discouragement became so heavy I stopped doing it. Not consciously, but unconsciously. I forgot for too long. Which left the door wide open for the accusations. I have recently come back to it. And I feel safer than for many wasted years.

    Since heaven will be for eternity I hope it will be possible to meet and know many people that we have only had slight contact with here on earth and even be friends with them! That will be awesome.

  • Abby

    fws:
    You may not appreciate contemporary Christian music, but I like these two (I do like some others as well):

    “Let yourself and everyone else be a liar, but God cannot lie!” I love that! I do lie to myself and believe lies very easily.

    “The Promise he made to you in your baptism is what you can take to God and hold him to that Promise.” I was taught to do that as a child and I did do it often. But sometime along the way the discouragement became so heavy I stopped doing it. Not consciously, but unconsciously. I forgot for too long. Which left the door wide open for the accusations. I have recently come back to it. And I feel safer than for many wasted years.

    Since heaven will be for eternity I hope it will be possible to meet and know many people that we have only had slight contact with here on earth and even be friends with them! That will be awesome.