Eating for death vs. eating for life

Our church was not one of the 10% of American churches that cancelled Sunday services on Christmas day, I’m happy to say.  We had a wonderful service.  Pastor Douthwaite’s sermon was on the “great reversal” of the Fall of Adam and Eve that God worked through the gift of His Son.  Especially striking was something that I had never thought about:  Our fall took place when mankind ate the fruit of the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.  So the reversal of this curse also involves eating.  We eat the fruit of the Tree of Life; namely, the body and blood of Christ crucified.

The Word who became flesh is flesh still and comes to you, for you, in that same body and blood today on this altar. And that final, dreadful part of the sentence once spoken to Adam has been reversed – and now the fruit of the Tree of Life is ours again! And so while Adam ate and died, for you and me it has been proclaimed: the day you eat of this, you shall surely live! This is My Body, this is My Blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sin. And we feast upon the Lamb of God. The flesh and blood of our Lord is truly the first – and best – Christmas gift.

And so the darkness of our sin is enlightened by His glory. The glory of the Creator dying for his creatures. The glory of the strong become weak. The glory of God in the manger. The glory of Jesus. The glory of the Word made flesh. The glory of God who gives Himself to us. Is this not a marvel?

But perhaps there’s even one more marvel for us this happy morning . . . that your Saviour didn’t just redeem you from your sin that you may serve God as a slave, or be an indentured servant, or to be on parole to see if you’ll live up to it – the Son of God came to make you a son of God. A full son! With all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto! For that’s what His forgiveness does. It doesn’t just restore part of the way, but all of the way. . . .

Today, marvel at that. Rejoice with the angels. Kneel with the shepherds. And take the body and blood of Jesus not in your arms, like Mary, but in your mouth, and depart in peace. Your sins are forgiven, dear child of God; your exodus complete.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Christmas Day Sermon.

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.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Wood or Stone?
    I love the baptismal language of the incarnation where Christ becomes humanity so we can receive adoption by the Father as sons of God. So, to the question, wood or stone, is one’s personal view of the manger.

    If wood, then we begin salvation’s story with the Son of God incarnate being laid on an altar formed as a wooden manger. Here lay a most defenseless baby and yet, the creator of all that is. And his final earthly destination, the very reason for the incarnation, was to exchange the wood of the manger for the wood of the Cross. Again, He choose to lay down his life, for us, upon this altar for us.

    If stone, the blessed virgin Mary carefully wraps God’s Son in swaddling cloths and lays him upon the altar of stone – for us. At the end of His ministry, Christ is removed from the cross, having finished all that is necessary for our salvation, and is once again wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in upon a stone altar of the grave.

    Either view ends with incarnation becoming justification; both emphasize the “for you” of God’s redeeming work on this glorious day where Christ is first given to us, for us then in obedience to the will of the Father again gives himself for us so He may give himself to us. Little wonder then the entire angelic choir’s song echoed throughout all creation from Adam to the second coming. Maranatha.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Wood or Stone?
    I love the baptismal language of the incarnation where Christ becomes humanity so we can receive adoption by the Father as sons of God. So, to the question, wood or stone, is one’s personal view of the manger.

    If wood, then we begin salvation’s story with the Son of God incarnate being laid on an altar formed as a wooden manger. Here lay a most defenseless baby and yet, the creator of all that is. And his final earthly destination, the very reason for the incarnation, was to exchange the wood of the manger for the wood of the Cross. Again, He choose to lay down his life, for us, upon this altar for us.

    If stone, the blessed virgin Mary carefully wraps God’s Son in swaddling cloths and lays him upon the altar of stone – for us. At the end of His ministry, Christ is removed from the cross, having finished all that is necessary for our salvation, and is once again wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in upon a stone altar of the grave.

    Either view ends with incarnation becoming justification; both emphasize the “for you” of God’s redeeming work on this glorious day where Christ is first given to us, for us then in obedience to the will of the Father again gives himself for us so He may give himself to us. Little wonder then the entire angelic choir’s song echoed throughout all creation from Adam to the second coming. Maranatha.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Haleigh

    There is a wonderful hymn in the LSB about this very connection. It is called “Tree of Life.”

  • Haleigh

    There is a wonderful hymn in the LSB about this very connection. It is called “Tree of Life.”

  • Pete

    One view of the essential conflict that the Bible revolves around is access to the Tree of Life: accessible (but unnecessary) in the Garden, inaccessible after the Fall (entrance to Eden guarded by an angel with a flaming sword) accessible again after the crucifixion of Jesus (veil is torn, Holy Communion – as noted by Pastor Douthwaite) and accessible (but again unnecessary but also no longer potentially dangerous) finally in the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 22.) How could multiple people, separated by millenia and cultures have come up with such a remarkable and tight story line? Maranatha, indeed, as noted by Dennis.

  • Pete

    One view of the essential conflict that the Bible revolves around is access to the Tree of Life: accessible (but unnecessary) in the Garden, inaccessible after the Fall (entrance to Eden guarded by an angel with a flaming sword) accessible again after the crucifixion of Jesus (veil is torn, Holy Communion – as noted by Pastor Douthwaite) and accessible (but again unnecessary but also no longer potentially dangerous) finally in the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 22.) How could multiple people, separated by millenia and cultures have come up with such a remarkable and tight story line? Maranatha, indeed, as noted by Dennis.

  • Tom Hering

    “… 10% of American churches that cancelled Sunday services on Christmas day …”

    That should read 10% of Protestant churches, as stated in the linked article. Also, David Gibson, the author, said “will be” cancelled (his article is dated Friday the 23rd). What did he base his prediction on? And what evidence do we have that his prediction proved correct?

  • Tom Hering

    “… 10% of American churches that cancelled Sunday services on Christmas day …”

    That should read 10% of Protestant churches, as stated in the linked article. Also, David Gibson, the author, said “will be” cancelled (his article is dated Friday the 23rd). What did he base his prediction on? And what evidence do we have that his prediction proved correct?

  • http://lutheranvisuals.com Ken Ring

    Dr Veith:

    I hope I don’t offend but after reading your post today I am offering a blatent promotion for our latest DVD series “Eating God’s Sacrifice”. It is a direct followup to Pastor Douthwaite’s Christmas proclamation.

    In this eight part series Dr Brege helps us better understand how the Old Testament Sacramental offerings directly foreshadow the Lords Supper today. Eating was done either by God, the priests, or the people they were in communion.

    “This is the feast, the victory for our God”

    Lutheranvisuals.com

  • http://lutheranvisuals.com Ken Ring

    Dr Veith:

    I hope I don’t offend but after reading your post today I am offering a blatent promotion for our latest DVD series “Eating God’s Sacrifice”. It is a direct followup to Pastor Douthwaite’s Christmas proclamation.

    In this eight part series Dr Brege helps us better understand how the Old Testament Sacramental offerings directly foreshadow the Lords Supper today. Eating was done either by God, the priests, or the people they were in communion.

    “This is the feast, the victory for our God”

    Lutheranvisuals.com

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    No problem, Ken. And I’ll offer a further plug: The Lutheran Visuals videos are amazingly good. They work well for Bible studies, youth & adult Sunday classes, and just for watching.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    No problem, Ken. And I’ll offer a further plug: The Lutheran Visuals videos are amazingly good. They work well for Bible studies, youth & adult Sunday classes, and just for watching.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Furthermore, these were nearly all evangelical congregations, mostly of the megachurch variety. There was a follow up article in the Washington Post today that gives more details and some jaw-dropping rationalizations. It gives the source of the 10% number: a survey by LifeWay, the big Southern Baptist publishing company: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/2011/12/25/gIQAEuvtHP_story.html

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Furthermore, these were nearly all evangelical congregations, mostly of the megachurch variety. There was a follow up article in the Washington Post today that gives more details and some jaw-dropping rationalizations. It gives the source of the 10% number: a survey by LifeWay, the big Southern Baptist publishing company: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/2011/12/25/gIQAEuvtHP_story.html

  • George A. Marquart

    “But perhaps there’s even one more marvel for us this happy morning . . . that your Saviour didn’t just redeem you from your sin that you may serve God as a slave, or be an indentured servant, or to be on parole to see if you’ll live up to it — the Son of God came to make you a son of God. A full son! With all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto! For that’s what His forgiveness does. It doesn’t just restore part of the way, but all of the way. . . .” It is a joy to hear this part of the glorious Gospel, which we hear so rarely. The Pietists always want us to say, “We are not worthy. All of our life must be repentance.” Indeed, any worthiness we have is not of our own doing but a gift – as sure a gift as salvation itself. If we ignore this gift, we are unable to become concerned about the needs of our neighbor, because we are always concerned about ourselves. So it is not our pride that makes us worthy, but the gift of our Lord Himself. Indeed the Great Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price!
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    “But perhaps there’s even one more marvel for us this happy morning . . . that your Saviour didn’t just redeem you from your sin that you may serve God as a slave, or be an indentured servant, or to be on parole to see if you’ll live up to it — the Son of God came to make you a son of God. A full son! With all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto! For that’s what His forgiveness does. It doesn’t just restore part of the way, but all of the way. . . .” It is a joy to hear this part of the glorious Gospel, which we hear so rarely. The Pietists always want us to say, “We are not worthy. All of our life must be repentance.” Indeed, any worthiness we have is not of our own doing but a gift – as sure a gift as salvation itself. If we ignore this gift, we are unable to become concerned about the needs of our neighbor, because we are always concerned about ourselves. So it is not our pride that makes us worthy, but the gift of our Lord Himself. Indeed the Great Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price!
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • helen

    The Pietists always want us to say, “We are not worthy. All of our life must be repentance.” Indeed, any worthiness we have is not of our own doing but a gift – as sure a gift as salvation itself.

    I have been taught to understand Pietism as an effort to earn salvation by “right living.”

    A call to repentance was the first of Luther’s 95 Theses.

    We believe both “Baptism saves you.” and “the good that I would, I do not do, and the evil that I would not, that I do.” Therefore, while redeemed (all God’s doing) we daily repent of our inability to always do the right thing or our facility for doing the wrong thing, knowing that we are (already) forgiven. Our efforts to do good are not for the purpose of saving ourselves (we cannot) but in thanksgiving for salvation as God’s free gift.

  • helen

    The Pietists always want us to say, “We are not worthy. All of our life must be repentance.” Indeed, any worthiness we have is not of our own doing but a gift – as sure a gift as salvation itself.

    I have been taught to understand Pietism as an effort to earn salvation by “right living.”

    A call to repentance was the first of Luther’s 95 Theses.

    We believe both “Baptism saves you.” and “the good that I would, I do not do, and the evil that I would not, that I do.” Therefore, while redeemed (all God’s doing) we daily repent of our inability to always do the right thing or our facility for doing the wrong thing, knowing that we are (already) forgiven. Our efforts to do good are not for the purpose of saving ourselves (we cannot) but in thanksgiving for salvation as God’s free gift.

  • SKPeterson

    Tom – It was based on a survey from LifeWay, the Southern Baptist publisher that indicated something like 90-91% of surveyed churches would have Sunday services. It may have been more representative of evangelical Protestants and not so much the liturgical variety, but I’m not familiar enough with their survey sample.

  • SKPeterson

    Tom – It was based on a survey from LifeWay, the Southern Baptist publisher that indicated something like 90-91% of surveyed churches would have Sunday services. It may have been more representative of evangelical Protestants and not so much the liturgical variety, but I’m not familiar enough with their survey sample.

  • Tom Hering

    SK, the LifeWay study states that a phone survey of 1,000 “Protestant pastors” was conducted May 18-25 (seven months ago) and that “the calling list was randomly drawn from a list of all Protestant churches.” Which sounds to me like pastors from every Protestant denomination / non-denomination may not have been surveyed, never mind an appropriate percent of pastors from each Protestant denomination / non-denomination. The study doesn’t provide a detailed breakdown of actual respondents.

    Anyways, my main point was that the statement “10% of American churches” needs correction. Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches weren’t included in the survey, and shouldn’t be implicated.

  • Tom Hering

    SK, the LifeWay study states that a phone survey of 1,000 “Protestant pastors” was conducted May 18-25 (seven months ago) and that “the calling list was randomly drawn from a list of all Protestant churches.” Which sounds to me like pastors from every Protestant denomination / non-denomination may not have been surveyed, never mind an appropriate percent of pastors from each Protestant denomination / non-denomination. The study doesn’t provide a detailed breakdown of actual respondents.

    Anyways, my main point was that the statement “10% of American churches” needs correction. Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches weren’t included in the survey, and shouldn’t be implicated.

  • George A. Marquart

    Helen @ 9
    Not everything the blessed Dr. Martin Luther wrote made it into our confessional writings, The Book of Concord. Here is the first of the 95 Theses: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Obviously, this is early Luther, when he was not yet fully aware of the difference between the unregenerate and the regenerate person, or the member of the Kingdom of God (His sheep) and the outsider (the goats). The reason this one did not make it into the Book of Concord is that it is wrong. When our Lord called people to Repentance, He called them to the “one time” Repentance, μετάνοια in Greek, which a person undergoes in the process of the spiritual rebirth, of which our Lord spoke to Nicodemus. This is, in fact, a complete “turning” around from our former life. This noun is used 24 times in the New Testament – every time meaning this one time Repentance. If we “turned around” from our new life again, we would go back to the old one. Therefore, the repentance, or Contrition which we daily, or often more than once a day, and probably more often less than daily practice is not the same Repentance to which our Lord called people. Actually, for His followers He simply said, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This is what the worthiness is all about, which He earned for us. If it were not so, we could never know if we have “repented enough” to earn salvation.

    Therefore, we have
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Helen @ 9
    Not everything the blessed Dr. Martin Luther wrote made it into our confessional writings, The Book of Concord. Here is the first of the 95 Theses: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Obviously, this is early Luther, when he was not yet fully aware of the difference between the unregenerate and the regenerate person, or the member of the Kingdom of God (His sheep) and the outsider (the goats). The reason this one did not make it into the Book of Concord is that it is wrong. When our Lord called people to Repentance, He called them to the “one time” Repentance, μετάνοια in Greek, which a person undergoes in the process of the spiritual rebirth, of which our Lord spoke to Nicodemus. This is, in fact, a complete “turning” around from our former life. This noun is used 24 times in the New Testament – every time meaning this one time Repentance. If we “turned around” from our new life again, we would go back to the old one. Therefore, the repentance, or Contrition which we daily, or often more than once a day, and probably more often less than daily practice is not the same Repentance to which our Lord called people. Actually, for His followers He simply said, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This is what the worthiness is all about, which He earned for us. If it were not so, we could never know if we have “repented enough” to earn salvation.

    Therefore, we have
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • CRB

    George @8,
    Could you pleease explain this part of your post:
    “So it is not our pride that makes us worthy…”

    I dont think anyone would say that our pride makes us worthy.

    Thanks!

  • CRB

    George @8,
    Could you pleease explain this part of your post:
    “So it is not our pride that makes us worthy…”

    I dont think anyone would say that our pride makes us worthy.

    Thanks!

  • helen

    George Marquart @12
    Not everything the blessed Dr. Martin Luther wrote made it into our confessional writings

    Trueabout Luther, but how do you explain Paul’s lament over daily sin?

    I was born in to the Lutheran church and baptized as soon as my mother was allowed out of the house (three or four weeks in those days). Would your big “R” Repentance have occurred at baptism then, which we believe removes original sin and makes us Christian?
    I have not been cognizant of two kinds of repentance. I’m familiar with Luther’s catechism which says that ‘the Old Adam should daily be drowned and die and a new man daily come forth to live in righteousness and purity before God’… If you can explain…

  • helen

    George Marquart @12
    Not everything the blessed Dr. Martin Luther wrote made it into our confessional writings

    Trueabout Luther, but how do you explain Paul’s lament over daily sin?

    I was born in to the Lutheran church and baptized as soon as my mother was allowed out of the house (three or four weeks in those days). Would your big “R” Repentance have occurred at baptism then, which we believe removes original sin and makes us Christian?
    I have not been cognizant of two kinds of repentance. I’m familiar with Luther’s catechism which says that ‘the Old Adam should daily be drowned and die and a new man daily come forth to live in righteousness and purity before God’… If you can explain…

  • George A. Marquart

    CRB @13. What I was trying to say, and obviously I didn’t say it very clearly, is that those who accuse us of pride, when we call ourselves worthy, are wrong. We acknowledge with Luther, that “we are beggars.” At the same time, we acknowledge that it is God Himself, Who has made us worthy as His free gift. Oh, some people do say that if you think you are worthy it is because of pride. It is those people who do not understand the fundamental nature of the Gospel: free gift.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    CRB @13. What I was trying to say, and obviously I didn’t say it very clearly, is that those who accuse us of pride, when we call ourselves worthy, are wrong. We acknowledge with Luther, that “we are beggars.” At the same time, we acknowledge that it is God Himself, Who has made us worthy as His free gift. Oh, some people do say that if you think you are worthy it is because of pride. It is those people who do not understand the fundamental nature of the Gospel: free gift.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Helen @14. I am sorry, I am leaving home for a few days and will be back by the weekend. Your question is a very important one and it deserves an answer. If you can work your way to the bottom of this blog late on Saturday, I will leave what I think is the right answer.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Helen @14. I am sorry, I am leaving home for a few days and will be back by the weekend. Your question is a very important one and it deserves an answer. If you can work your way to the bottom of this blog late on Saturday, I will leave what I think is the right answer.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • CRB

    George @ 15,
    Thanks! That makes it quite clear. I guess when we Christians are talking about being, “worthy” we had better state exactly where that “worthiness” comes from: Christ alone.

  • CRB

    George @ 15,
    Thanks! That makes it quite clear. I guess when we Christians are talking about being, “worthy” we had better state exactly where that “worthiness” comes from: Christ alone.

  • CRB

    Or, as that great hymn puts it:
    “Jesus, THY blood and rightousness,
    My beauty are my glorious dress.”

    And, for those who will not accept our confession, we say with another hymnwriter (Martin Franzmann)
    “Preach the Word and plant it home,
    To those who like or like it not!”

  • CRB

    Or, as that great hymn puts it:
    “Jesus, THY blood and rightousness,
    My beauty are my glorious dress.”

    And, for those who will not accept our confession, we say with another hymnwriter (Martin Franzmann)
    “Preach the Word and plant it home,
    To those who like or like it not!”

  • George A. Marquart

    Helen @14 How do I explain Paul’s lament over daily sin? Was there anything in what I wrote that indicated that we do not sin, daily, constantly and richly? But St. Paul says nothing about “daily repentance”, even though there is nothing wrong with repenting daily, hourly, by the minute, depending on the situation. Paul answers your question himself, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Then he continues with the reason why he gives thanks, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What Paul is saying is that regardless of how many times he breaks the Law, there is no condemnation for him, and the depth or frequency of repentance has nothing to do with it. Of course, some will immediately say, “Shall we sin so that grace might abound?” St. Paul already anticipates this question, and answers it in the beginning of Romans 6.

    But now to Luther and the fourth question in the Small Catechism under Baptism. This and other blogs have space limitations, so I will try to answer in as compact a way as I can. First, I personally believe that Dr. Martin Luther was the greatest theologian who ever lived. I bless him for bringing the life giving Gospel out of the darkness where it was hidden for so many years. But Luther himself said that people should not believe what is written, because it is written by Luther, but because it agrees with Scripture.

    Luther had problems with the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom, and Sanctification. In this case, the complete citation is, “Fourthly. What does such baptizing with water signify?–Answer. It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever. Where is this written?–Answer.
    St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Here Luther is saying that what happens in Baptism should happen with us every day. “…a new man daily come forth and arise: who shall live before God ….. forever?” Well forever is rather a short time, if he has to do it again on the following day.

    In defense of this position, Luther quotes Romans 6. Romans 6 has nothing to say about any “daily drowning of the Old Adam”. It speaks very precisely about the one “drowning and raising to life,” which make us children of God and citizens of His Kingdom. It does speak about walking in a new life, περιπατησωμεν verb – aorist active subjunctive – first person, so that we may walk in newness of life. St. Paul is not saying that, because Christ died and we were buried with Him, and are now raised to new life, we must live a new life, but that we “may”, because as the new creatures we are able to walk in newness of life, and we want to It would be impossible to walk in a new life without being the new creatures He made us.

    Sanctification is a life long process that begins when we are baptized. It is a work of the Holy Spirit which He does through His Word, the Sacrament of the Altar, through parents, relatives, pastors, teachers, friends and many other agents. But Sanctification never makes us perfect. God does that in Baptism, when He declares us perfect because of the life, suffering, death and resurrection of our dear Savior. And so we remain perfect in His sight, even if we don’t repent of our sins every day. Nothing we do or do not do affects what God accomplished in us in Baptism, except the sin against the Holy Spirit. But Scripture nowhere implies that every one of God’s children is constantly on the verge of committing that one, unforgiveable sin. It is always the exception, not the rule. If you can say, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner,” you don’t have to worry abut it. It is “simul justus et peccator,” “simultaneously perfect and a sinner.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Helen @14 How do I explain Paul’s lament over daily sin? Was there anything in what I wrote that indicated that we do not sin, daily, constantly and richly? But St. Paul says nothing about “daily repentance”, even though there is nothing wrong with repenting daily, hourly, by the minute, depending on the situation. Paul answers your question himself, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Then he continues with the reason why he gives thanks, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What Paul is saying is that regardless of how many times he breaks the Law, there is no condemnation for him, and the depth or frequency of repentance has nothing to do with it. Of course, some will immediately say, “Shall we sin so that grace might abound?” St. Paul already anticipates this question, and answers it in the beginning of Romans 6.

    But now to Luther and the fourth question in the Small Catechism under Baptism. This and other blogs have space limitations, so I will try to answer in as compact a way as I can. First, I personally believe that Dr. Martin Luther was the greatest theologian who ever lived. I bless him for bringing the life giving Gospel out of the darkness where it was hidden for so many years. But Luther himself said that people should not believe what is written, because it is written by Luther, but because it agrees with Scripture.

    Luther had problems with the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom, and Sanctification. In this case, the complete citation is, “Fourthly. What does such baptizing with water signify?–Answer. It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever. Where is this written?–Answer.
    St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Here Luther is saying that what happens in Baptism should happen with us every day. “…a new man daily come forth and arise: who shall live before God ….. forever?” Well forever is rather a short time, if he has to do it again on the following day.

    In defense of this position, Luther quotes Romans 6. Romans 6 has nothing to say about any “daily drowning of the Old Adam”. It speaks very precisely about the one “drowning and raising to life,” which make us children of God and citizens of His Kingdom. It does speak about walking in a new life, περιπατησωμεν verb – aorist active subjunctive – first person, so that we may walk in newness of life. St. Paul is not saying that, because Christ died and we were buried with Him, and are now raised to new life, we must live a new life, but that we “may”, because as the new creatures we are able to walk in newness of life, and we want to It would be impossible to walk in a new life without being the new creatures He made us.

    Sanctification is a life long process that begins when we are baptized. It is a work of the Holy Spirit which He does through His Word, the Sacrament of the Altar, through parents, relatives, pastors, teachers, friends and many other agents. But Sanctification never makes us perfect. God does that in Baptism, when He declares us perfect because of the life, suffering, death and resurrection of our dear Savior. And so we remain perfect in His sight, even if we don’t repent of our sins every day. Nothing we do or do not do affects what God accomplished in us in Baptism, except the sin against the Holy Spirit. But Scripture nowhere implies that every one of God’s children is constantly on the verge of committing that one, unforgiveable sin. It is always the exception, not the rule. If you can say, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner,” you don’t have to worry abut it. It is “simul justus et peccator,” “simultaneously perfect and a sinner.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart


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