A key named “Promise”

Matthew Block, editor of the Canadian Lutheran, makes good use of classic literature to demonstrate how despair is countered by the promises of God:

In the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a spiritual epidemic spread across England, infecting Christians with the belief that God would not forgive them. They desperately wanted to be saved, but they believed they had been shut out from grace. This condition—”despair,” as it was called—robbed people of hope and drove many to commit suicide.

You see people wrestling with this issue in the literature of the day—in Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene and the religious poetry of the Anglican priest and poet John Donne, for example. But perhaps we see it most clearly in John Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrim’s Progress. Here the character Christian is taken prisoner by Giant Despair, thrown into a dungeon, beaten daily, and goaded to take his own life—something he would, in fact, do if his friend Hopeful wasn’t there to keep him from self-harm.

This last tale is particularly moving because we know Bunyan himself struggled with despair. In his spiritual autobiography, he writes how, for two years, he suffered under the belief his sins were unforgivable. The Scriptures offered no relief; all he read was God’s anger at and condemnation of sin. For two years, Bunyan perceived nothing but “damnation, and expectation of damnation.”

But of course, John Bunyan did not stay forever in despair. The cure finally came when he learned to distinguish Law from Gospel. Bunyan learned at least some of this from Martin Luther himself, whose Commentary on Galatians happened to come into his hands. It was, Bunyan says, “most fit for a wounded conscience”—most fit, that is, for a conscience down in despair. So taken by the book was he that Bunyan would later say he counted it second only to the Scriptures themselves.

What Luther taught and what Bunyan had come to believe was that the Gospel offers the only answer to the accusations of the Law. Yes, the Law shows us our sin. Yes, we must accept the testimony of Scripture that we are sinful people deserving death and hell. But the Gospel, not the Law, gets the final word. The Good News is that Christ bore our sins on the cross. His death and resurrection set us free from the guilt of sin!

It was this Gospel that finally won Bunyan from despair. The Gospel prodded constantly at his heart, calming his fears. He recalls: “Scripture, in these flying fits would call as running after me, ‘I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins. Return unto me for I have redeemed thee’ (Isaiah 44:22).”

Bunyan could find no cure for despair in himself. No, the cure could only be found in the promises of Christ—in the Gospel. And so it is that, in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian only escapes Giant Despair when he remembers he carries a key in his bosom. The key’s name is “Promise,” and it opens the prison doors.

Despair was not Bunyan’s problem alone. It existed long before Bunyan, and it continues to plague people long since. We see glimpses of it in ourselves when we worry that we have finally sinned too much. When we fear our faith is not strong enough to save. When we’ve let God down one too many times. But just as it did with Bunyan, Scripture comes running after us in these moments, reminding us of the promises of Christ. The Holy Spirit is at work in the Word, drawing us ever to Himself, opening our hearts to believe the promises of God.

via Canadian Lutheran Online » Blog Archive » A key named “Promise”.

Rev. Block goes on to explain how the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper can help people out of the despair that comes from thinking their sins are unforgivable.

Notice:  John Bunyan was a Baptist who was helped by Luther.

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

    “Notice: John Bunyan was a Baptist who was helped by Luther.”

    I attended a Baptist church yesterday and the preacher spoke on Romans 3:21-25 and did a creditable job in presenting both law and gospel. But, of course, the difference comes in the “how” – how God’s grace is administered to us. He really didn’t get into that at all.

  • Pete

    “Notice: John Bunyan was a Baptist who was helped by Luther.”

    I attended a Baptist church yesterday and the preacher spoke on Romans 3:21-25 and did a creditable job in presenting both law and gospel. But, of course, the difference comes in the “how” – how God’s grace is administered to us. He really didn’t get into that at all.

  • reg

    How do Lutherans reconcile 1 Corinthians 1:17 with your view of baptism?

  • reg

    How do Lutherans reconcile 1 Corinthians 1:17 with your view of baptism?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But see, again, this is the issue I have with Lutheran sacraments: they almost always seem to be presented as ends to themselves and not a means to an end-the destination rather than the vehicle. They seem to replace the gospel rather than being administered as an extension of the gospel.

    The reference Dr. Veith makes regarding Rev. Block’s words about the sacraments confirm this (ie-that the sacraments can help people out of their despair). That sounds an awful lot like saying it’s the sacraments and not the work of Christ on the cross which save us. That seems to take attention away from Christ and places it upon bread and wine for salvation.

    I’m sorry, guys: I’m really trying to understand this, and I very badly would like to run to every tenant of Lutheranism with open arms, but at times the sacraments seem to be exalted to the point of being just as saving in their own inherent nature as the cross itself. It seems at times to take the institution and place it over and above the One who instituted it, similar to what Old Testament Israel did with the institution of the sacrificial ceremonies and see them as an end in and of themselves instead of as a vehicle of expressed faith (see Amos 5:21-24). That is why Reformed and evangelicals balk at the Lutheran understanding of the sacraments, and while this is not to say that evangelicals/Reformed are not guilty of this (Oh, believe me, they are), it is to say that, when a person says “I’m saved because I was baptized” or “I receive forgiveness through the sacraments” what non-Lutherans hear is “I’m placing my faith in something other than the finished work of Christ on the cross for my salvation.” The connection is not always so obviously presented.

    Maybe this is just a question of presentation vs. content, but I would appreciate Lutherans presenting the sacraments in light of the gospel, rather than as something in addition to the gospel, because again that’s how it comes across sometimes, and that’s why at times Lutherans are accused of leaning too closely to Rome.

    Help me understand, gentlemen, because I don’t enjoy disagreeing with you, but at the same time if I perceive something to be at odds with Scripture, no matter how attractive or beautiful it may be, I have to forsake it for the sake of the Word of God. I’ve already run into this with the Calvinists and their stubborn insistence on a legalistic application of the Sabbath and (in some cases) a ridiculous application of the Regulative Principle of Worship. And while I do believe in vigilance on Scriptural things, I do not want to turn into a “tinfoil” Christian who believes that every minor variant is of the devil. So please, somebody… help me!!!

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But see, again, this is the issue I have with Lutheran sacraments: they almost always seem to be presented as ends to themselves and not a means to an end-the destination rather than the vehicle. They seem to replace the gospel rather than being administered as an extension of the gospel.

    The reference Dr. Veith makes regarding Rev. Block’s words about the sacraments confirm this (ie-that the sacraments can help people out of their despair). That sounds an awful lot like saying it’s the sacraments and not the work of Christ on the cross which save us. That seems to take attention away from Christ and places it upon bread and wine for salvation.

    I’m sorry, guys: I’m really trying to understand this, and I very badly would like to run to every tenant of Lutheranism with open arms, but at times the sacraments seem to be exalted to the point of being just as saving in their own inherent nature as the cross itself. It seems at times to take the institution and place it over and above the One who instituted it, similar to what Old Testament Israel did with the institution of the sacrificial ceremonies and see them as an end in and of themselves instead of as a vehicle of expressed faith (see Amos 5:21-24). That is why Reformed and evangelicals balk at the Lutheran understanding of the sacraments, and while this is not to say that evangelicals/Reformed are not guilty of this (Oh, believe me, they are), it is to say that, when a person says “I’m saved because I was baptized” or “I receive forgiveness through the sacraments” what non-Lutherans hear is “I’m placing my faith in something other than the finished work of Christ on the cross for my salvation.” The connection is not always so obviously presented.

    Maybe this is just a question of presentation vs. content, but I would appreciate Lutherans presenting the sacraments in light of the gospel, rather than as something in addition to the gospel, because again that’s how it comes across sometimes, and that’s why at times Lutherans are accused of leaning too closely to Rome.

    Help me understand, gentlemen, because I don’t enjoy disagreeing with you, but at the same time if I perceive something to be at odds with Scripture, no matter how attractive or beautiful it may be, I have to forsake it for the sake of the Word of God. I’ve already run into this with the Calvinists and their stubborn insistence on a legalistic application of the Sabbath and (in some cases) a ridiculous application of the Regulative Principle of Worship. And while I do believe in vigilance on Scriptural things, I do not want to turn into a “tinfoil” Christian who believes that every minor variant is of the devil. So please, somebody… help me!!!

  • SKPeterson

    reg – What is there to reconcile? Especially if one takes verse 17 in the context of verses 10 through 17. Paul says he wasn’t called to do many baptisms, but rather preach the Word to the Gentiles; he doesn’t say baptism is bad, he doesn’t say it has no value, he doesn’t deny that baptism is the saving work of the Trinity in bringing new birth to the one baptized. He does however warn against the abuse of baptism, or rather false baptism – such as baptism in the name of Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas.

  • SKPeterson

    reg – What is there to reconcile? Especially if one takes verse 17 in the context of verses 10 through 17. Paul says he wasn’t called to do many baptisms, but rather preach the Word to the Gentiles; he doesn’t say baptism is bad, he doesn’t say it has no value, he doesn’t deny that baptism is the saving work of the Trinity in bringing new birth to the one baptized. He does however warn against the abuse of baptism, or rather false baptism – such as baptism in the name of Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas.

  • SKPeterson

    Before we recapitulate the Luther-Zwingli debate, the Lutheran position is that Christ’s words mean what they mean – the is in “This is my body” or “This is my blood” really means is. In the Eucharist there is no division of the One who instituted the sacraments and the elements. It is the One who gives the power and the meaning and the promise to the bread and the wine. In Baptism, it is the promise and work of God that makes the sacrament the sacrament. Without the Word, the water is simply water. But with the promise attached to the Word of God, it is Living Water that saves.

  • SKPeterson

    Before we recapitulate the Luther-Zwingli debate, the Lutheran position is that Christ’s words mean what they mean – the is in “This is my body” or “This is my blood” really means is. In the Eucharist there is no division of the One who instituted the sacraments and the elements. It is the One who gives the power and the meaning and the promise to the bread and the wine. In Baptism, it is the promise and work of God that makes the sacrament the sacrament. Without the Word, the water is simply water. But with the promise attached to the Word of God, it is Living Water that saves.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    The proclamation of grace given freely in Christ is a wonderful one. What troubles me is that, nowadays, it seems not to interest people, because modern people have no sense of sin. Unlike in the case of the the 15th and 16th centuries, we today have to first awaken a sense of sin. Or do you think our contemporaries actually do have a sense of sin, and are just repressing it?

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    The proclamation of grace given freely in Christ is a wonderful one. What troubles me is that, nowadays, it seems not to interest people, because modern people have no sense of sin. Unlike in the case of the the 15th and 16th centuries, we today have to first awaken a sense of sin. Or do you think our contemporaries actually do have a sense of sin, and are just repressing it?

  • reg

    J. Dean,
    Has expressed exactly why I have trouble with the Lutheran view of the sacraments.

  • reg

    J. Dean,
    Has expressed exactly why I have trouble with the Lutheran view of the sacraments.

  • Kathy

    J. Dean
    My understanding is that the sacraments are the visible/physical means of receiving grace/the work of Christ on the cross. The sacraments answer the question, “How does that grace get to me? How do I receive it?”

  • Kathy

    J. Dean
    My understanding is that the sacraments are the visible/physical means of receiving grace/the work of Christ on the cross. The sacraments answer the question, “How does that grace get to me? How do I receive it?”

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    J.Dean, when are you going to see that the sacraments are the work of Christ. There is no separation. The sacraments wouldn’t be the sacraments if they were not the work of Christ. How much more Gospel can it be to be given the body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Is that not the Gospel? How much more Gospel can it be to be buried and raised in new life in Christ? Is not being made a new the Gospel?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    J.Dean, when are you going to see that the sacraments are the work of Christ. There is no separation. The sacraments wouldn’t be the sacraments if they were not the work of Christ. How much more Gospel can it be to be given the body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Is that not the Gospel? How much more Gospel can it be to be buried and raised in new life in Christ? Is not being made a new the Gospel?

  • http://fivepintlutheran2.wordpress.com/ David Cochrane

    The sacraments are the word of God connected with parts of his physical creation. By them we see and receive the promises of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. We also hear that in our ears with faithful preaching of the Gospel in our ears by which we also receive the forgiveness of sin. It is not merely the act hearing the word, being baptized or eating the bread and wine but the promises contained in each. These gifts are the medicine to cure despair.

    I was raised Baptist and I get how the Sacraments are a problem for people. The understanding comes when we allow our reason to be instructed by clear bible teaching. We always have the temptation to trust only that which we can understand. This presents a problem for much Christian doctrine as well. i.e. virgin birth, one God three persons, that the crucifixion has anything to do with forgiveness of sins. etc

    God’s peace. †

  • http://fivepintlutheran2.wordpress.com/ David Cochrane

    The sacraments are the word of God connected with parts of his physical creation. By them we see and receive the promises of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. We also hear that in our ears with faithful preaching of the Gospel in our ears by which we also receive the forgiveness of sin. It is not merely the act hearing the word, being baptized or eating the bread and wine but the promises contained in each. These gifts are the medicine to cure despair.

    I was raised Baptist and I get how the Sacraments are a problem for people. The understanding comes when we allow our reason to be instructed by clear bible teaching. We always have the temptation to trust only that which we can understand. This presents a problem for much Christian doctrine as well. i.e. virgin birth, one God three persons, that the crucifixion has anything to do with forgiveness of sins. etc

    God’s peace. †

  • EGK

    Just a note: Mathew Block is not a “Reverend.” He is a very astute layman (and a very young one at that!). His knowledge in this case comes from the fact that he majored in English, as well as taking his Lutheran background quite seriously.

  • EGK

    Just a note: Mathew Block is not a “Reverend.” He is a very astute layman (and a very young one at that!). His knowledge in this case comes from the fact that he majored in English, as well as taking his Lutheran background quite seriously.

  • http://www.christlutheran.net Jeff Samelson

    J. Dean (and others) — We Lutherans don’t present the sacraments “in addition to” or “in light of” the gospel because Baptism and the Lord’s Supper *are* gospel — God at work to graciously give sinners forgiveness, life, faith, and salvation — just as much as the Word that proclaims “Salvation is yours and your sins are forgiven in Jesus Christ” is gospel. This is why we call the sacraments, along with the Scriptures, the Means of Grace — these are the instruments (tools, conduits, conveyances) through which God has promised to deliver his gifts — won for us by Christ on the cross — to the sinners (all of us!) who need them.

    The difficulty many non-Lutherans have in grasping this (and I’m not assuming it’s your situation) is in switching from seeing Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as works that Christians do out of obedience to God’s command to seeing them as works that *God does* and we are blessed to partake of. Yes, we individually have to submit to the washing with water and the Word or there is no baptism, and yes, we have to eat and drink or there is no Lord’s Supper, but everything that is effective and meaningful comes from God’s powerful working and not one bit from our own work or even willingness. We simply trust that God gives us what he has promised to give through the sacraments Christ instituted for us — and even that faith is something the Holy Spirit works in us.

  • http://www.christlutheran.net Jeff Samelson

    J. Dean (and others) — We Lutherans don’t present the sacraments “in addition to” or “in light of” the gospel because Baptism and the Lord’s Supper *are* gospel — God at work to graciously give sinners forgiveness, life, faith, and salvation — just as much as the Word that proclaims “Salvation is yours and your sins are forgiven in Jesus Christ” is gospel. This is why we call the sacraments, along with the Scriptures, the Means of Grace — these are the instruments (tools, conduits, conveyances) through which God has promised to deliver his gifts — won for us by Christ on the cross — to the sinners (all of us!) who need them.

    The difficulty many non-Lutherans have in grasping this (and I’m not assuming it’s your situation) is in switching from seeing Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as works that Christians do out of obedience to God’s command to seeing them as works that *God does* and we are blessed to partake of. Yes, we individually have to submit to the washing with water and the Word or there is no baptism, and yes, we have to eat and drink or there is no Lord’s Supper, but everything that is effective and meaningful comes from God’s powerful working and not one bit from our own work or even willingness. We simply trust that God gives us what he has promised to give through the sacraments Christ instituted for us — and even that faith is something the Holy Spirit works in us.

  • http://www.canadianlutheran.ca Mathew Block

    Glad you enjoyed the article Dr. Veith. Two quick notes though: first, there’s only one ‘t’ in my name (“Mathew”), and second, I’m actually not a pastor. I might be revered, but I’m not quite reverend :P

  • http://www.canadianlutheran.ca Mathew Block

    Glad you enjoyed the article Dr. Veith. Two quick notes though: first, there’s only one ‘t’ in my name (“Mathew”), and second, I’m actually not a pastor. I might be revered, but I’m not quite reverend :P

  • EGK

    To J Dean and reg: It is not that the sacraments are exalted over the work of Christ on the cross: rather it is that the work of Christ on the cross is given to us individually in the sacraments. The sacraments are the application of that work to us with a very specific, individualized, “for you.” That’s why Luther declared that if you want to give people assurance you don’t point them to the cross (!), but rather to the sacraments, because there you are specifically told that it was “for you.”

  • EGK

    To J Dean and reg: It is not that the sacraments are exalted over the work of Christ on the cross: rather it is that the work of Christ on the cross is given to us individually in the sacraments. The sacraments are the application of that work to us with a very specific, individualized, “for you.” That’s why Luther declared that if you want to give people assurance you don’t point them to the cross (!), but rather to the sacraments, because there you are specifically told that it was “for you.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Dean (@3), perhaps it will clarify things if I point out that, with only a few adjustments, your same argument could be made against believing that Jesus is God. Now, I’m not accusing you of that heresy. But your argument does sound like something a Muslim might say about Jesus. Let me show you:

    But see, again, this is the issue I have with Christianity’s take on Jesus: he almost always seems to be presented as God himself, and not just a man that points us to God. He seems to replace God.

    Christians’ explanations sound an awful lot like saying it’s Jesus, and not God, who saves us. That seems to take attention away from God, and places it on the man Jesus.

    I’m sorry, guys; I’m really trying to understand this, but at times Jesus seems to be exalted to the point of being just as saving as to his own inherent nature as God himself. He seems to take place over the One who made everything. That is why Muslims balk at Christian’s understanding of Jesus. When a person says, “I’m saved because of Jesus” or “I’m forgiven because of what Jesus did”, what Muslims hear is “I’m placing my faith in something other than God for my salvation.”

    I would appreciate Christians presenting Jesus in light of God, rather than in addition to God.

    Again, that’s an inexact quote of your words, adjusted to a different argument.

    But think about how you’d respond to such a Muslim argument. Do you think the Muslim fully understands the relationship between Jesus and God (remember: most Muslims believe Christians are polytheists)? How would you explain to him what you believe about the Trinity? Would you de-emphasize your comments about Jesus in favor of emphasizing salvation coming mainly from God?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Dean (@3), perhaps it will clarify things if I point out that, with only a few adjustments, your same argument could be made against believing that Jesus is God. Now, I’m not accusing you of that heresy. But your argument does sound like something a Muslim might say about Jesus. Let me show you:

    But see, again, this is the issue I have with Christianity’s take on Jesus: he almost always seems to be presented as God himself, and not just a man that points us to God. He seems to replace God.

    Christians’ explanations sound an awful lot like saying it’s Jesus, and not God, who saves us. That seems to take attention away from God, and places it on the man Jesus.

    I’m sorry, guys; I’m really trying to understand this, but at times Jesus seems to be exalted to the point of being just as saving as to his own inherent nature as God himself. He seems to take place over the One who made everything. That is why Muslims balk at Christian’s understanding of Jesus. When a person says, “I’m saved because of Jesus” or “I’m forgiven because of what Jesus did”, what Muslims hear is “I’m placing my faith in something other than God for my salvation.”

    I would appreciate Christians presenting Jesus in light of God, rather than in addition to God.

    Again, that’s an inexact quote of your words, adjusted to a different argument.

    But think about how you’d respond to such a Muslim argument. Do you think the Muslim fully understands the relationship between Jesus and God (remember: most Muslims believe Christians are polytheists)? How would you explain to him what you believe about the Trinity? Would you de-emphasize your comments about Jesus in favor of emphasizing salvation coming mainly from God?

  • SKPeterson

    Todd @ 15 – Using the old “Calvinists are really just Deists in disguise” argument, eh?

  • SKPeterson

    Todd @ 15 – Using the old “Calvinists are really just Deists in disguise” argument, eh?

  • George A. Marquart

    Because believing the Gospel is so profoundly contrary to our nature, despair is natural to us. Even as the people of Israel yearned for the fleshpots of Egypt as soon as they had been given freedom, so people, even believers, yearn for the Law and its certainty. But that often leads to despair, because the Law shows us how impossible it is for us to please God.

    In the Sacrament of Baptism we become entirely new creatures and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. If it were not for those two facts, there would be no escaping despair. Even so, because, as the Confessions so frequently remind us, our regeneration is not complete, we need the encouragement, which our dear Lord wanted every one of His children to have: the proclamation of the Gospel and the participation in His Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. The truth is that the Law is of no help against despair – it can only make it worse.

    But our Pastors and our Confessions seem to reflect the notion that people are not aware enough of their sinful condition and that they constantly need to be reminded of it, so that they do not forget that if they are not good, or getting better all the time, this is a sure sign that their salvation might be in jeopardy. Yes, this is always followed by the consolation of the Gospel, but very often accompanied by such qualifiers as “real” before “faith” and “repentance.” Although C.F.W. Walther warns against it, and himself violates it, believers must not be preached to as if they were “still in their sins.”

    The unbelievable principle of the Gospel, which we need to hold fast to, and can hold fast to because of what our Lord does for us in His Kingdom, is: “God expects nothing from us.” That takes away despair, doesn’t it? I am also certain that that is what Luther had in mind, when he scribbled those last words on a slip of paper, “We are beggars, this is true.” It is the other side of the coin, one side of which reads, “God expects nothing from us.” After all you can’t expect anything from someone who does not have anything.

    But being freed from worries about our own salvation, we can do the things our Lord mentioned that His sheep, “blessed of the Father”, do for the least of His brethren.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Because believing the Gospel is so profoundly contrary to our nature, despair is natural to us. Even as the people of Israel yearned for the fleshpots of Egypt as soon as they had been given freedom, so people, even believers, yearn for the Law and its certainty. But that often leads to despair, because the Law shows us how impossible it is for us to please God.

    In the Sacrament of Baptism we become entirely new creatures and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. If it were not for those two facts, there would be no escaping despair. Even so, because, as the Confessions so frequently remind us, our regeneration is not complete, we need the encouragement, which our dear Lord wanted every one of His children to have: the proclamation of the Gospel and the participation in His Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. The truth is that the Law is of no help against despair – it can only make it worse.

    But our Pastors and our Confessions seem to reflect the notion that people are not aware enough of their sinful condition and that they constantly need to be reminded of it, so that they do not forget that if they are not good, or getting better all the time, this is a sure sign that their salvation might be in jeopardy. Yes, this is always followed by the consolation of the Gospel, but very often accompanied by such qualifiers as “real” before “faith” and “repentance.” Although C.F.W. Walther warns against it, and himself violates it, believers must not be preached to as if they were “still in their sins.”

    The unbelievable principle of the Gospel, which we need to hold fast to, and can hold fast to because of what our Lord does for us in His Kingdom, is: “God expects nothing from us.” That takes away despair, doesn’t it? I am also certain that that is what Luther had in mind, when he scribbled those last words on a slip of paper, “We are beggars, this is true.” It is the other side of the coin, one side of which reads, “God expects nothing from us.” After all you can’t expect anything from someone who does not have anything.

    But being freed from worries about our own salvation, we can do the things our Lord mentioned that His sheep, “blessed of the Father”, do for the least of His brethren.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • fws

    J Dean & reg @ 3 and @2

    Let me say some new stuff that you two men have probably not heard yet from a Lutheran. ALL the following points can be found in the Lutheran Confessions.

    1) We believe that Baptism and the Lords Supper are Good Works. They are something men do. They are Commands of Christ. They are therefore Ordinances.
    2) We also believe that they are something that the Old Adams of Pastors are driven to do by the Law.
    3) Remember that whenever a Lutheran says Law they mean this: The Law always accuses. The Law always kills. The Law only accuses. The Law only kills.
    4) ALL we can see and do on earth that is a good work is something literally extorted out of Old Adam by the Law.
    5) Therefore ALL good works are the God desired fruit of the “deathing” of a believer if a believer is the one doing.
    6)ALL we can see and do in Church including maintaining doctrinal purity, right administration of word and sacrament, even the preached Law and Gospel, etc, etc is classified as Romans 8 carnal/flesh/body stuff.
    7) what i said in 6 means that all we can see and do in church will perish with the earth along with all who trust in such works for eternal Life. Right administration of word and sacraments falls under the biblical category of “carnal righeousness” or even the category in the Lutheran Confessions called “philosophical righeousness”.

    and finally…

    8) Baptism saves us!

    Any questions gentlemen?

  • fws

    J Dean & reg @ 3 and @2

    Let me say some new stuff that you two men have probably not heard yet from a Lutheran. ALL the following points can be found in the Lutheran Confessions.

    1) We believe that Baptism and the Lords Supper are Good Works. They are something men do. They are Commands of Christ. They are therefore Ordinances.
    2) We also believe that they are something that the Old Adams of Pastors are driven to do by the Law.
    3) Remember that whenever a Lutheran says Law they mean this: The Law always accuses. The Law always kills. The Law only accuses. The Law only kills.
    4) ALL we can see and do on earth that is a good work is something literally extorted out of Old Adam by the Law.
    5) Therefore ALL good works are the God desired fruit of the “deathing” of a believer if a believer is the one doing.
    6)ALL we can see and do in Church including maintaining doctrinal purity, right administration of word and sacrament, even the preached Law and Gospel, etc, etc is classified as Romans 8 carnal/flesh/body stuff.
    7) what i said in 6 means that all we can see and do in church will perish with the earth along with all who trust in such works for eternal Life. Right administration of word and sacraments falls under the biblical category of “carnal righeousness” or even the category in the Lutheran Confessions called “philosophical righeousness”.

    and finally…

    8) Baptism saves us!

    Any questions gentlemen?

  • reg

    FWS and others,
    I can’t get there. Faith saves us (and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God). Baptism is merely the outward confirmation/confession of that which faith has already accomplished. Hence Paul and Peter preached the Gospel that people might believe and be saved. only then are they baptized as the exclamation point. You cannot base a whole theology on 1 Peter 3 when virtually everywhere else the opposite is taught. From Romans 10:8-15 to Ephesians 2:8. Scripture interprets Scripture.

  • reg

    FWS and others,
    I can’t get there. Faith saves us (and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God). Baptism is merely the outward confirmation/confession of that which faith has already accomplished. Hence Paul and Peter preached the Gospel that people might believe and be saved. only then are they baptized as the exclamation point. You cannot base a whole theology on 1 Peter 3 when virtually everywhere else the opposite is taught. From Romans 10:8-15 to Ephesians 2:8. Scripture interprets Scripture.

  • fws

    reg @ 19

    we believe

    1) the Works of Christ alone save us, through/by passive faith.
    2) Faith is a gift, meaning it is not something we are able to do.
    3) Baptism is a Law we are commanded to follow.
    4) Baptism is a good work. It is a work man does.
    5) God actually does something “in, with and under the water”.
    6) Baptism saves us.

    Come on Reg!

    Don’t you see ANY apparent contradiction in what I just numbered out?

    Yes. you do.

    So aren’t you even curious how we reconcile all that in our little Lutheran brains? Doesn’t that suggest that there is something sorta big that you aren’t yet seeing in all this?

    try this: read the story of the leper Naaman in II Kings and ask the following questions about his baptism:

    1) Who/what cured naamans leprosy? Elisha? Naaman? The water?
    2) Who was the one commanding the baptizing? Elisha? The intermediaries Elisha sent with the message?
    3) Why was it that Naaman resisted what Elisha said?
    4) would naaman have been cured by washing in other water?
    Why not?

    So what was it that cured naaman? Being baptized 7 times ? in the jordan ? what? who?

    Here is my invitation to you Reg and J Dean:

    When i try to understand a Baptist I try to think like a Baptism. I think I can describe for you the Baptist doctrine or the presbyterian doctrine on Baptism in a way you would be convinced I was a Baptist or Presbyterian if you did not know better.

    How can I say I reject what Baptists and Presbyterians believe on anything if I cannot explain and argue , in a convincing way for their position. I can do that!

    Try to get there with us Lutherans. Focus on where we seem to be the most glaringly contradictory! That is where you start. My post 18 should help. Heck even some Lutherans would be surprised at alot of my points! And pretend you are arguing with the Baptists as a Lutheran.

    Only then will I accept that you have honestly rejected the Lutheran teaching on Baptism. Doesn’t that make sense reg and J Dean?

  • fws

    reg @ 19

    we believe

    1) the Works of Christ alone save us, through/by passive faith.
    2) Faith is a gift, meaning it is not something we are able to do.
    3) Baptism is a Law we are commanded to follow.
    4) Baptism is a good work. It is a work man does.
    5) God actually does something “in, with and under the water”.
    6) Baptism saves us.

    Come on Reg!

    Don’t you see ANY apparent contradiction in what I just numbered out?

    Yes. you do.

    So aren’t you even curious how we reconcile all that in our little Lutheran brains? Doesn’t that suggest that there is something sorta big that you aren’t yet seeing in all this?

    try this: read the story of the leper Naaman in II Kings and ask the following questions about his baptism:

    1) Who/what cured naamans leprosy? Elisha? Naaman? The water?
    2) Who was the one commanding the baptizing? Elisha? The intermediaries Elisha sent with the message?
    3) Why was it that Naaman resisted what Elisha said?
    4) would naaman have been cured by washing in other water?
    Why not?

    So what was it that cured naaman? Being baptized 7 times ? in the jordan ? what? who?

    Here is my invitation to you Reg and J Dean:

    When i try to understand a Baptist I try to think like a Baptism. I think I can describe for you the Baptist doctrine or the presbyterian doctrine on Baptism in a way you would be convinced I was a Baptist or Presbyterian if you did not know better.

    How can I say I reject what Baptists and Presbyterians believe on anything if I cannot explain and argue , in a convincing way for their position. I can do that!

    Try to get there with us Lutherans. Focus on where we seem to be the most glaringly contradictory! That is where you start. My post 18 should help. Heck even some Lutherans would be surprised at alot of my points! And pretend you are arguing with the Baptists as a Lutheran.

    Only then will I accept that you have honestly rejected the Lutheran teaching on Baptism. Doesn’t that make sense reg and J Dean?

  • fws

    reg @ 19

    Imagine that water baptism= spirit baptism. Wherever the Bible talks about the baptism of the Holy Spirit Lutherans hear “water baptism”. We don’t separate the two. We say they are the same thing. We dont base our teaching on only one passage.

    Titus: [water] baptism is a [literal] washing of [literal] regeneration and a [literal] renewing of the Holy Spirit.

    Nicodemus : you must be[literally] regenerated. We say this happens , literally, in baptism. Why not?

    “As many as were baptized…” …what? We read that ”putting on Christ” literally Reg. Tell me why we should not please.

    God cleanses and sanctifies his Church [literally] by the washing of water with the Word.

    You yourself can think now of many other passages that say this same thing. Why should I not read them in the literal sense reg and J dean? Why not? tell me please.

  • fws

    reg @ 19

    Imagine that water baptism= spirit baptism. Wherever the Bible talks about the baptism of the Holy Spirit Lutherans hear “water baptism”. We don’t separate the two. We say they are the same thing. We dont base our teaching on only one passage.

    Titus: [water] baptism is a [literal] washing of [literal] regeneration and a [literal] renewing of the Holy Spirit.

    Nicodemus : you must be[literally] regenerated. We say this happens , literally, in baptism. Why not?

    “As many as were baptized…” …what? We read that ”putting on Christ” literally Reg. Tell me why we should not please.

    God cleanses and sanctifies his Church [literally] by the washing of water with the Word.

    You yourself can think now of many other passages that say this same thing. Why should I not read them in the literal sense reg and J dean? Why not? tell me please.

  • SKPeterson

    reg @ 19 – you know that your argument relies on the word ordering found in English translations right? It falls apart when taken in the koine Greek context.

  • SKPeterson

    reg @ 19 – you know that your argument relies on the word ordering found in English translations right? It falls apart when taken in the koine Greek context.

  • fws

    reg @ 19

    Or try this. lets say you wake up one day and decide to take those passages along with others , and read them as a Lutheran would . how would you imagine as a new Lutheran , you would defend that way of reading those passages? do that thought experiment.

    Of course you would assume that God COULD chose to connect water to spoken Word create the New Birth. Why not? He creates the New Birth by sound waves passing out of a mouth and hitting a mechanical ear drum and registering that sound in the brain.

    And who is mouthing those words? the WORK of a Pastor? Is it the Pastor then creating the New Birth by his good works?

    and he made the Virgin Mary pregnant with THE New Birth in that same mechanical and fleshly and carnal way and means right? or no?

  • fws

    reg @ 19

    Or try this. lets say you wake up one day and decide to take those passages along with others , and read them as a Lutheran would . how would you imagine as a new Lutheran , you would defend that way of reading those passages? do that thought experiment.

    Of course you would assume that God COULD chose to connect water to spoken Word create the New Birth. Why not? He creates the New Birth by sound waves passing out of a mouth and hitting a mechanical ear drum and registering that sound in the brain.

    And who is mouthing those words? the WORK of a Pastor? Is it the Pastor then creating the New Birth by his good works?

    and he made the Virgin Mary pregnant with THE New Birth in that same mechanical and fleshly and carnal way and means right? or no?

  • SKPeterson

    There you go again Frank – making God’s Words to be effective and to do what He says. Reason would beg to differ.

  • SKPeterson

    There you go again Frank – making God’s Words to be effective and to do what He says. Reason would beg to differ.

  • fws

    skp @ 22

    can you tell us more about that SK?

  • fws

    skp @ 22

    can you tell us more about that SK?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    FWS…

    If you mean by this that baptism and communion are effective to the extent that they are in light of, and under the umbrella of, the saving work of Christ on the cross, then I have no problem with that.

    Answer me this: an unregenerate man comes into a Lutheran congregation. He comes forward during communion and partakes of communion. Does that communion apart from a regenerative work of the Holy Spirit save that man?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    FWS…

    If you mean by this that baptism and communion are effective to the extent that they are in light of, and under the umbrella of, the saving work of Christ on the cross, then I have no problem with that.

    Answer me this: an unregenerate man comes into a Lutheran congregation. He comes forward during communion and partakes of communion. Does that communion apart from a regenerative work of the Holy Spirit save that man?

  • fws

    J dean @ 26

    Question 1:
    Where do you find that wording “in light of, under the umbrella of” in the Scriptures? I am not asking for that exact wording. I am asking for the idea expressed, somewhere, in scripture. where do you find that teaching?

    Question 2:

    an unregenerate man …partakes of communion. Does that communion …Holy Spirit save that man?

    Answer for yourself what that man and also YOU would receive, and me, from the Communion, from the Lutheran Confessions:

    [When we go to the Supper] we …remember and proclaim His death and the shedding of His blood. [We] should we remember and proclaim His death … so we may learn to be horrified by our sins, and to regard them as very serious.

    and this:

    what more forcible, more terrible declaration and preaching of God’s wrath against sin is there than just the suffering and death of Christ, His Son? 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 aright, after the veil of Moses has been removed from them, so that they first know aright how great things God in His Law requires of us, none of which we can observe.

    And finally this Lutheran description of what the Christian life is supposed to look like:

    the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, i.e., it is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels the wrath of God against our sins,and seeks the remission of sins, and to be freed from sin. And in such terrors and other afflictions this faith ought to grow and be strengthened.

    So what do you surmise the Lutheran answer is to your question as to what ALL receive from the Communion (among other things).

    May I please direct a Question back at you J Dean? How does a man seek to become regenerated?

  • fws

    J dean @ 26

    Question 1:
    Where do you find that wording “in light of, under the umbrella of” in the Scriptures? I am not asking for that exact wording. I am asking for the idea expressed, somewhere, in scripture. where do you find that teaching?

    Question 2:

    an unregenerate man …partakes of communion. Does that communion …Holy Spirit save that man?

    Answer for yourself what that man and also YOU would receive, and me, from the Communion, from the Lutheran Confessions:

    [When we go to the Supper] we …remember and proclaim His death and the shedding of His blood. [We] should we remember and proclaim His death … so we may learn to be horrified by our sins, and to regard them as very serious.

    and this:

    what more forcible, more terrible declaration and preaching of God’s wrath against sin is there than just the suffering and death of Christ, His Son? 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 aright, after the veil of Moses has been removed from them, so that they first know aright how great things God in His Law requires of us, none of which we can observe.

    And finally this Lutheran description of what the Christian life is supposed to look like:

    the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, i.e., it is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels the wrath of God against our sins,and seeks the remission of sins, and to be freed from sin. And in such terrors and other afflictions this faith ought to grow and be strengthened.

    So what do you surmise the Lutheran answer is to your question as to what ALL receive from the Communion (among other things).

    May I please direct a Question back at you J Dean? How does a man seek to become regenerated?

  • reg

    FWS,
    you asked: “How does a man seek to become regenerated?”

    An unregenerate man does not seek to become regenerate. The HS inducing life in a dead man leads him to turn to God. Man has little choice in the matter (irresistible grace). God does not take “no” for an answer. I know this to be true both Biblically and experimentally.

  • reg

    FWS,
    you asked: “How does a man seek to become regenerated?”

    An unregenerate man does not seek to become regenerate. The HS inducing life in a dead man leads him to turn to God. Man has little choice in the matter (irresistible grace). God does not take “no” for an answer. I know this to be true both Biblically and experimentally.

  • fws

    reg @ 28

    Ok. Whether man has choice in the matter or not was not part of my question. It is irrelevant to the question strictly speaking. I am not saying it is not an important question. It is. And I am not saying I disagree. I am just saying “one issue at a time”.

    So a man does not seek to become regenerated. Good. You caught the trick in my trick question.

    Questions (if you will generously allow me…)

    1) So then how is it that God the HS regenerates , that is, makes a spiritually dead man alive? Are there steps to this? is it a process? Does God do this immediately (as directly, as in speaking to joseph smith) or does he do this mediately, through a pastor say? Can you flesh this out for me?

    2) You say something curious here: “leads him to turn to God”. So this is a cooperative effort? In what I just quoted turn is a verb done by the man.

  • fws

    reg @ 28

    Ok. Whether man has choice in the matter or not was not part of my question. It is irrelevant to the question strictly speaking. I am not saying it is not an important question. It is. And I am not saying I disagree. I am just saying “one issue at a time”.

    So a man does not seek to become regenerated. Good. You caught the trick in my trick question.

    Questions (if you will generously allow me…)

    1) So then how is it that God the HS regenerates , that is, makes a spiritually dead man alive? Are there steps to this? is it a process? Does God do this immediately (as directly, as in speaking to joseph smith) or does he do this mediately, through a pastor say? Can you flesh this out for me?

    2) You say something curious here: “leads him to turn to God”. So this is a cooperative effort? In what I just quoted turn is a verb done by the man.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    FWS,

    A man does not “seek to become regenerated;” a man is regenerated by a sovereign act of God through the Holy Spirit, and then a man seeks after God, having come to saving faith because of the Holy Spirit.

    But my question is this: if an unregenerate man comes to the communion table/altar, and partakes of communion, does he “become” regenerate? Does communion in and of itself possess the power to regenerate a person? Or must a person approach communion in faith for communion to be efficacious?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    FWS,

    A man does not “seek to become regenerated;” a man is regenerated by a sovereign act of God through the Holy Spirit, and then a man seeks after God, having come to saving faith because of the Holy Spirit.

    But my question is this: if an unregenerate man comes to the communion table/altar, and partakes of communion, does he “become” regenerate? Does communion in and of itself possess the power to regenerate a person? Or must a person approach communion in faith for communion to be efficacious?

  • reg

    FWS,
    Like J. Dean says.

    You ask:
    “So then how is it that God the HS regenerates , that is, makes a spiritually dead man alive? Are there steps to this? is it a process? Does God do this immediately (as directly, as in speaking to joseph smith) or does he do this mediately, through a pastor say? Can you flesh this out for me?”

    I don’t know how the HS does this, whether there are steps or not, etc. I just know that:

    “I once was lost but now am found,
    Was blind, but now I see.

    T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
    And Grace, my fears relieved.”

    I am not trying to be cute, I can’t answer you beyond this.

  • reg

    FWS,
    Like J. Dean says.

    You ask:
    “So then how is it that God the HS regenerates , that is, makes a spiritually dead man alive? Are there steps to this? is it a process? Does God do this immediately (as directly, as in speaking to joseph smith) or does he do this mediately, through a pastor say? Can you flesh this out for me?”

    I don’t know how the HS does this, whether there are steps or not, etc. I just know that:

    “I once was lost but now am found,
    Was blind, but now I see.

    T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
    And Grace, my fears relieved.”

    I am not trying to be cute, I can’t answer you beyond this.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @30 J. Dean considering the nature of Communion and the warning given in 1 Cor 11. You are asking the wrong question. The right question is “Will they be forgiven or condemned for their denial of the body and blood?”

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @30 J. Dean considering the nature of Communion and the warning given in 1 Cor 11. You are asking the wrong question. The right question is “Will they be forgiven or condemned for their denial of the body and blood?”

  • fws

    J dean @ 30

    Does communion in and of itself possess the power to regenerate a person? Or must a person approach communion in faith for communion to be efficacious?

    II Kings. Story of Naaman the leper. Imagine that cure-for-leprosy=salvation.
    Ask those same questions.
    Where did God place a promise?
    Was it what naaman did that saved him?
    was it trust that God would do what he Promised?
    Could the promise have been separated from where it was located?
    Why or why not?

    I am not trying to convince you of anything J Dean or Reg. I am trying to get you to see the thought pattern of a Lutheran on this. You can’t disagree with what Lutherans teach until you understand what that is. And neither of you understand what we teach yet.

    Let’s see if we can get past that ok? THEN you can decide if you accept what we teach or not. This is not an argument that we are right. This is to show you what it is that we believe.

  • fws

    J dean @ 30

    Does communion in and of itself possess the power to regenerate a person? Or must a person approach communion in faith for communion to be efficacious?

    II Kings. Story of Naaman the leper. Imagine that cure-for-leprosy=salvation.
    Ask those same questions.
    Where did God place a promise?
    Was it what naaman did that saved him?
    was it trust that God would do what he Promised?
    Could the promise have been separated from where it was located?
    Why or why not?

    I am not trying to convince you of anything J Dean or Reg. I am trying to get you to see the thought pattern of a Lutheran on this. You can’t disagree with what Lutherans teach until you understand what that is. And neither of you understand what we teach yet.

    Let’s see if we can get past that ok? THEN you can decide if you accept what we teach or not. This is not an argument that we are right. This is to show you what it is that we believe.

  • fws

    reg @ 31

    You are not trying to be cute. I trust that. But you did not just wake up one day a believer. It don’t happen that way. No one believes that.

    ” what must we do to be saved?” they shouted at Peter. And he said…. “I don’t know how you would become regenerated. Let me think about that and get back at ya!” No.

    Try again. You know what I am asking I suspect. Let’s go there shall we gentlemen?

  • fws

    reg @ 31

    You are not trying to be cute. I trust that. But you did not just wake up one day a believer. It don’t happen that way. No one believes that.

    ” what must we do to be saved?” they shouted at Peter. And he said…. “I don’t know how you would become regenerated. Let me think about that and get back at ya!” No.

    Try again. You know what I am asking I suspect. Let’s go there shall we gentlemen?

  • fws

    reg:
    You say the holy spirit does regeneration. It is NOT something man can do may I assume from what you say? Or is it something man cooperates in somehow? As in God initiates it and man completes it or something like that?

    J Dean:
    @ 30 you seemed to ignore what I quoted from the Lutheran Confessions. How am I to read your question @30 in light of what I quoted @ 27? You are asking this: does communion create faith. Where is anything I wrote @ 27 about creating faith? It is what Lutherans official teach about communion by the way. We are not going to get anywhere if you dont engage what I wrote. I am very seriously trying to engage your questions. There is no point if you do not try to digest what I wrote and at least try to respond to it.

  • fws

    reg:
    You say the holy spirit does regeneration. It is NOT something man can do may I assume from what you say? Or is it something man cooperates in somehow? As in God initiates it and man completes it or something like that?

    J Dean:
    @ 30 you seemed to ignore what I quoted from the Lutheran Confessions. How am I to read your question @30 in light of what I quoted @ 27? You are asking this: does communion create faith. Where is anything I wrote @ 27 about creating faith? It is what Lutherans official teach about communion by the way. We are not going to get anywhere if you dont engage what I wrote. I am very seriously trying to engage your questions. There is no point if you do not try to digest what I wrote and at least try to respond to it.

  • fws

    j dean, you asked the same question @ 26 and 30 . yes you COULD repeat it one more time… but…. ;)
    I gave you my answer at 27.
    And I invited you to form what the Lutheran answer would be from what I wrote that Lutherans believe about Communion there. It is a very serious response. It is what the Lutherans teach about the Holy Supper. Not ALL we teach on that, but at least half of it. And I am pretty sure you have never heard THAT half in your entire life. Ever.

    I was hoping it would get us out of a rut.

    What sort of response are you looking for? I know it is not the one I gave you @ 27.

    Maybe try this: Tell me what the response was you expected from me, and I will tell you if that is a response that a Lutheran would actually give. I will be honest.

  • fws

    j dean, you asked the same question @ 26 and 30 . yes you COULD repeat it one more time… but…. ;)
    I gave you my answer at 27.
    And I invited you to form what the Lutheran answer would be from what I wrote that Lutherans believe about Communion there. It is a very serious response. It is what the Lutherans teach about the Holy Supper. Not ALL we teach on that, but at least half of it. And I am pretty sure you have never heard THAT half in your entire life. Ever.

    I was hoping it would get us out of a rut.

    What sort of response are you looking for? I know it is not the one I gave you @ 27.

    Maybe try this: Tell me what the response was you expected from me, and I will tell you if that is a response that a Lutheran would actually give. I will be honest.

  • fws

    j dean @ 30

    “Does communion in and of itself possess the power to regenerate a person?”

    Answer: The HS uses Communion (like you would use a weapon) to kill and condemn and… the HS uses the communion, as well as the crucifixion, to terrify the heart and make it utterly despair at anything at all it can see and do, including believe and have faith. Including believers.

    Question: If you shoot and kill someone with a gun like the HS kills us in the communion, is it the gun killing or is it you?
    Second Answer: Does the HS also use the communion as a tool to create and strengthen faith? That depends on whether or not the person has been regenerated by the waters of Holy Baptism.

    “Or must a person approach communion in faith for communion to be efficacious?”

    Answer: see the answer to the first question.

    Is that something you can better sink your teeth into J Dean?

  • fws

    j dean @ 30

    “Does communion in and of itself possess the power to regenerate a person?”

    Answer: The HS uses Communion (like you would use a weapon) to kill and condemn and… the HS uses the communion, as well as the crucifixion, to terrify the heart and make it utterly despair at anything at all it can see and do, including believe and have faith. Including believers.

    Question: If you shoot and kill someone with a gun like the HS kills us in the communion, is it the gun killing or is it you?
    Second Answer: Does the HS also use the communion as a tool to create and strengthen faith? That depends on whether or not the person has been regenerated by the waters of Holy Baptism.

    “Or must a person approach communion in faith for communion to be efficacious?”

    Answer: see the answer to the first question.

    Is that something you can better sink your teeth into J Dean?

  • fws

    j dean @ 30

    “Does communion in and of itself possess the power to regenerate a person? ”

    When you make a hole with a shovel ,
    would an observer muse whether or not the shovel, in and of itself, has the power to make the hole?

    If you are big and strong can you chose to use a shovel rather than a backhoe to dig a hole? could you use your hands (ie, do it without means)?

    What if you promised someone that you would dig them a hole and you told them that you chose, in your sovreign will, to ONLY use a shovel to create holes. or maybe you have 3 instruments to do the same thing? hint hint…. preaching (which is something carnal material external… air, sound, ear drum, preacher, paper, ink), baptism… water….. communion…. bread wine…

    Question what is the ONE think those three carnal , physical means all have in common? the spoken Word. OF Whom?

    “Let there be light!” and? there was light.
    “I forgive you” said jesus And with just a word… air hits eardrum the man is washed clean.

    “you are pregnant” HS into the ear of Mary by way of an angel.

    Something always HAPPENS when the sound of God’s Word is heard. What happens? What he says.

    More helpful answer I hope.

  • fws

    j dean @ 30

    “Does communion in and of itself possess the power to regenerate a person? ”

    When you make a hole with a shovel ,
    would an observer muse whether or not the shovel, in and of itself, has the power to make the hole?

    If you are big and strong can you chose to use a shovel rather than a backhoe to dig a hole? could you use your hands (ie, do it without means)?

    What if you promised someone that you would dig them a hole and you told them that you chose, in your sovreign will, to ONLY use a shovel to create holes. or maybe you have 3 instruments to do the same thing? hint hint…. preaching (which is something carnal material external… air, sound, ear drum, preacher, paper, ink), baptism… water….. communion…. bread wine…

    Question what is the ONE think those three carnal , physical means all have in common? the spoken Word. OF Whom?

    “Let there be light!” and? there was light.
    “I forgive you” said jesus And with just a word… air hits eardrum the man is washed clean.

    “you are pregnant” HS into the ear of Mary by way of an angel.

    Something always HAPPENS when the sound of God’s Word is heard. What happens? What he says.

    More helpful answer I hope.

  • reg

    fws,
    Salvation is not something man cooperates with or in. It is all of/from/by God. Likewise for sanctification. I am a monergist.

  • reg

    fws,
    Salvation is not something man cooperates with or in. It is all of/from/by God. Likewise for sanctification. I am a monergist.

  • fws

    reg @ 39

    Nice to hear. So then if it is ALL God, then are you from one of the smaller reformed churches that do not believe in doing missionary work?

  • fws

    reg @ 39

    Nice to hear. So then if it is ALL God, then are you from one of the smaller reformed churches that do not believe in doing missionary work?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    Reg, I think you are misunderstanding monergism. God has instituted means. The gospel does not preach itself. The heart of most post-reformation arguments about soteriology arise from trying to shoe-horn what Scripture says into a rational/logical construct or order. I’m not sure that’s possible. What is clear is the Scriptures teaching on what happens in the life of believers. “How shall they believe unless they are told?” etc. etc. Taking monergism too far is the same paradigmatic error that plagues Pelagianism – it presumes that the power of salvation and the ordained means of salvation can be separated. I’m not sure that’s Scriptural at all.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    Reg, I think you are misunderstanding monergism. God has instituted means. The gospel does not preach itself. The heart of most post-reformation arguments about soteriology arise from trying to shoe-horn what Scripture says into a rational/logical construct or order. I’m not sure that’s possible. What is clear is the Scriptures teaching on what happens in the life of believers. “How shall they believe unless they are told?” etc. etc. Taking monergism too far is the same paradigmatic error that plagues Pelagianism – it presumes that the power of salvation and the ordained means of salvation can be separated. I’m not sure that’s Scriptural at all.

  • reg

    John,
    I don’t take it too far. We are to play our part in preach/hear believe per Romans 10, we are commanded to go an make disciples, etc. By monergism I am not saying we should not do these things or they are useless. We should live and speak as if it is a matter of free will/choice. We should pray for people’s salvation (and I know somehow God hears and answers prayers). We should seek to persuade and give people the reason for the hope within us. We should do so because this is what God asks us to do in the Scriptures (third use of the law???) out of gratitude and a desire to be more and more conformed. We also do this because as in our salvation we have no choice but to do so as the HS directs our actions. But ultimately what I am saying is that salvation and sanctification are totally and completely the work of the HS and there is no “choice” on our part at all. We love because we are first loved. There is nothing to boast about. I did not believe because I chose to believe or wanted to believe. I believed in spite of what my natural inclination was. When the “hound of heaven” pursues (using CS Lewis’ phrase) we cannot out-run him. BTW from the very first after I became a believer (at age 47) when asked whether “I had found God” I always answered that “he found me.” This is not some abstract construct for me. It is what the Bible teaches and what I know experientially.

    Sometimes I am not sure Lutherans really understand what some of us evangelical/reform types believe, just like you claim we do not understand what you believe.

  • reg

    John,
    I don’t take it too far. We are to play our part in preach/hear believe per Romans 10, we are commanded to go an make disciples, etc. By monergism I am not saying we should not do these things or they are useless. We should live and speak as if it is a matter of free will/choice. We should pray for people’s salvation (and I know somehow God hears and answers prayers). We should seek to persuade and give people the reason for the hope within us. We should do so because this is what God asks us to do in the Scriptures (third use of the law???) out of gratitude and a desire to be more and more conformed. We also do this because as in our salvation we have no choice but to do so as the HS directs our actions. But ultimately what I am saying is that salvation and sanctification are totally and completely the work of the HS and there is no “choice” on our part at all. We love because we are first loved. There is nothing to boast about. I did not believe because I chose to believe or wanted to believe. I believed in spite of what my natural inclination was. When the “hound of heaven” pursues (using CS Lewis’ phrase) we cannot out-run him. BTW from the very first after I became a believer (at age 47) when asked whether “I had found God” I always answered that “he found me.” This is not some abstract construct for me. It is what the Bible teaches and what I know experientially.

    Sometimes I am not sure Lutherans really understand what some of us evangelical/reform types believe, just like you claim we do not understand what you believe.

  • fws

    reg @ 42

    “Sometimes I am not sure Lutherans really understand what some of us evangelical/reform types believe”

    Oh yeah? Quiz me. Make it easier for me. Do you strictly adhere to any particular Reformed Confession? Is there some way I can just know what you believe without the interview we have been having? That is the problem reg.

    Want to know exactly, in great detail, what I believe? http://www.bookofconcord.org Again: Quiz me that way as well if you don’t think that could be possible.

    There are Reformed/Evangelical ChurchES. As to written Confessions of Faith there is THE Evangelical Lutheran Church.

    I am not trying to pick an argument here reg. I would love for you to quiz me on Reformed Doctrine. I am pretty sure I could satisfy you that I DO really and truly understand it. And so I can honestly say I reject it and know why I reject it. You can’t do that yet with the Lutherans can you? That is not a taunt reg . Let’s get you to that point where you can reject it fully understanding it.

  • fws

    reg @ 42

    “Sometimes I am not sure Lutherans really understand what some of us evangelical/reform types believe”

    Oh yeah? Quiz me. Make it easier for me. Do you strictly adhere to any particular Reformed Confession? Is there some way I can just know what you believe without the interview we have been having? That is the problem reg.

    Want to know exactly, in great detail, what I believe? http://www.bookofconcord.org Again: Quiz me that way as well if you don’t think that could be possible.

    There are Reformed/Evangelical ChurchES. As to written Confessions of Faith there is THE Evangelical Lutheran Church.

    I am not trying to pick an argument here reg. I would love for you to quiz me on Reformed Doctrine. I am pretty sure I could satisfy you that I DO really and truly understand it. And so I can honestly say I reject it and know why I reject it. You can’t do that yet with the Lutherans can you? That is not a taunt reg . Let’s get you to that point where you can reject it fully understanding it.

  • fws

    reg @ 42

    wow reg. Lots of stuff here….

    “We should live and speak as if it is a matter of free will/choice.”

    Interesting comment reg. What scripture passage are you thinking of that has this command of God? Lutherans don’t agree .

    “We should [evangelize] …because this is what God asks us to do in the Scriptures (third use of the law???) out of gratitude and a desire to be more and more conformed. We also do this because as in our salvation we have no choice but to do so as the HS directs our actions”

    Lutherans: the HS uses the Law ALWAYS to kill us and accuse us. You are saying that believers don’t have free will on whether or not to follow the Law of God? No you aren’t are you reg? What you said here is not clear to me. Can you rephrase this please?

    “when asked whether “I had found God” I always answered that “he found me.” ”

    What do you tell people when they ask you how you can be certain God has saved you? Your works? Your faith? What is it that makes you certain? Or are you uncertain Reg?

  • fws

    reg @ 42

    wow reg. Lots of stuff here….

    “We should live and speak as if it is a matter of free will/choice.”

    Interesting comment reg. What scripture passage are you thinking of that has this command of God? Lutherans don’t agree .

    “We should [evangelize] …because this is what God asks us to do in the Scriptures (third use of the law???) out of gratitude and a desire to be more and more conformed. We also do this because as in our salvation we have no choice but to do so as the HS directs our actions”

    Lutherans: the HS uses the Law ALWAYS to kill us and accuse us. You are saying that believers don’t have free will on whether or not to follow the Law of God? No you aren’t are you reg? What you said here is not clear to me. Can you rephrase this please?

    “when asked whether “I had found God” I always answered that “he found me.” ”

    What do you tell people when they ask you how you can be certain God has saved you? Your works? Your faith? What is it that makes you certain? Or are you uncertain Reg?

  • reg

    No doubts FWS. Never had any since I became a believer. While my sinfulness is as plain as day, his forgiveness is unwavering.

  • reg

    No doubts FWS. Never had any since I became a believer. While my sinfulness is as plain as day, his forgiveness is unwavering.

  • fws

    reg @ 45

    That’s excellent Reg. I hope you never ever doubt not ever that you are washed in the Blood of the Lamb and that no one can accuse you of any sin before the Judgement Seat of God. I am very glad to hear that.

    What would you tell someone who is not certain as you are? Where would you direct them to find that certainty?

    Here is what Lutherans say faith and the Christian Life look like as a context:

    the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, i.e., it is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels the wrath of God against our sins,and seeks the remission of sins, and to be freed from sin. And in such terrors and other afflictions this faith ought to grow and be strengthened.

    Do you ever have a terrified conscience Reg? All Lutherans do. What would you tell someone who looks at their christian life and all they can see is sin and death? Their life does not conform to God’s Law, they must be honest and confess that even if their outward life looks completely sanitary, their hearts are full of the 7 deadly sins and much more. They see, very clearly , that even their best righteousness is the moral equivalent of a used tampon. What would you tell them to comfort them and help them have certainty of their salvation?

  • fws

    reg @ 45

    That’s excellent Reg. I hope you never ever doubt not ever that you are washed in the Blood of the Lamb and that no one can accuse you of any sin before the Judgement Seat of God. I am very glad to hear that.

    What would you tell someone who is not certain as you are? Where would you direct them to find that certainty?

    Here is what Lutherans say faith and the Christian Life look like as a context:

    the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, i.e., it is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels the wrath of God against our sins,and seeks the remission of sins, and to be freed from sin. And in such terrors and other afflictions this faith ought to grow and be strengthened.

    Do you ever have a terrified conscience Reg? All Lutherans do. What would you tell someone who looks at their christian life and all they can see is sin and death? Their life does not conform to God’s Law, they must be honest and confess that even if their outward life looks completely sanitary, their hearts are full of the 7 deadly sins and much more. They see, very clearly , that even their best righteousness is the moral equivalent of a used tampon. What would you tell them to comfort them and help them have certainty of their salvation?

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