God’s conditional and His unconditional Words

More in our continuing series on non-Lutherans discovering Lutheran theology (while  many Lutherans throw it away).

Jono Linebaugh, New Testament Professor at Knox Theological Seminary, is working in the same orbit as Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, in their discovery, via Luther,  of the distinction between Law & Gospel.

Dr. Linebaugh has written a very helpful piece on that subject entitled “Luther on the Law.”  He underscores some aspects that we often miss:  how it’s God who uses the Law; how the Law is conditional and the Gospel is not conditional.

His discussion of the controversial “Third Use of the Law” is interesting too.  He is NOT denying that Christians must live a life according to God’s commands.  He is trying to work his way out of the Reformed position that puts so much stress on the Third Use that the Gospel can be forgotten.  His point is that God’s commands in light of the Gospel are not conditional either.

I’ll post excerpts to give you the flavor, but you should read the whole thing.  Tomorrow I post some of what he says on the Third Use of the Law, so hold that thought:

 The distinction between Law and Gospel is ultimately – that is, in reality – not a distinction between what is said; it is a distinction between what is heard. In other words, the difference between Law and Gospel is the difference between faith and unbelief. Thus, for Luther, the same words can encounter the human as either Law or Gospel. For example, the 10 Commandments are both the “hammer of God” that terrifies sinners with the “thunder of Mt. Sinai” and the pure promise that “I am the Lord your God.” Conversely, the beautiful and basic words of the Gospel – “Christ died for your sins” – can be, to the ears of unbelief, nothing but an announcement of the “enormity of God’s wrath” (Against the Antinomians 1539). . . .

Two important implications follow from this theological definition of Law. First, because Law is a way of identifying God’s action with words, talk about “uses” of the Law cannot be human uses of the Law but God’s use of his Law. In other words, God is the acting subject; he wields the words of death and life and the theological term Law is a way of pointing to God’s accusing, condemning, and killing speech. Second, because Law is defined in terms of its function and effect rather than simply its content, it is not, as noted above, reducible to a moral codex or a grammatical pattern.  . . .

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

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

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

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

via LIBERATE » Luther on the Law.

HT:  Daniel Siedell

About Gene Veith

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

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    God bless those Calvinists!

    They are getting warmer.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    God bless those Calvinists!

    They are getting warmer.

  • George A. Marquart

    A fascinating article! But one of the ironies is the fact that we Lutherans, particularly we LCMS Lutherans, who pride ourselves in perfect understanding of all major doctrines, turn Gospel into Law without ever realizing it. The question “What fuels works of love?” is answered with, “For Luther, the answer to this question always follows the pattern of 1 John 4.19: ‘We love because he first loved us.’ Works of love flow from and follow prior belovedness.” Far be it from me to deny that John wrote what he wrote, but does it proclaim a direct quid pro quo; a direct cause and effect relationship? We know from many other passages in Scripture that unregenerate man hates God and is incapable of the love of which John speaks, even though God loves His children even before they are regenerated, and prepared a Kingdom for them “from the foundation of the world” (Mat. 25:34). Therefore, what John is saying is that “we love” because in loving us God saw to it that we would be made capable of loving. That is what happens in Baptism, when the unregenerate sinner becomes a new creation, a child of God, the Holy Spirit makes him His home, and he is given “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). Both Luther and the Lutheran Church have had difficulties with the Holy Spirit, prompting Sasse to write words to the effect that “The Holy Spirit has lost His citizenship (Heimatrecht) in the Lutheran Church.” On the other hand, in the FC treatment of “The Third Use”, it is made clear that our motivation for doing good works comes from our new nature, even though it is imperfect. Quid pro quo is Law; just as we Americans have distorted the meaning of “favor” by insisting that a favor must be returned. But the Gospel is unconditional favor.

    On another point, “The only ‘if’ the Gospel knows is this: ‘if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous’ (1 John 2.1). Does “advocate with the Father” mean that He intercedes with the Father, or that being with the Father He can intercede for us against the powers that wish us harm? I have heard many Lutherans express the belief that it is the former, even though I cannot imagine how that can be.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    A fascinating article! But one of the ironies is the fact that we Lutherans, particularly we LCMS Lutherans, who pride ourselves in perfect understanding of all major doctrines, turn Gospel into Law without ever realizing it. The question “What fuels works of love?” is answered with, “For Luther, the answer to this question always follows the pattern of 1 John 4.19: ‘We love because he first loved us.’ Works of love flow from and follow prior belovedness.” Far be it from me to deny that John wrote what he wrote, but does it proclaim a direct quid pro quo; a direct cause and effect relationship? We know from many other passages in Scripture that unregenerate man hates God and is incapable of the love of which John speaks, even though God loves His children even before they are regenerated, and prepared a Kingdom for them “from the foundation of the world” (Mat. 25:34). Therefore, what John is saying is that “we love” because in loving us God saw to it that we would be made capable of loving. That is what happens in Baptism, when the unregenerate sinner becomes a new creation, a child of God, the Holy Spirit makes him His home, and he is given “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). Both Luther and the Lutheran Church have had difficulties with the Holy Spirit, prompting Sasse to write words to the effect that “The Holy Spirit has lost His citizenship (Heimatrecht) in the Lutheran Church.” On the other hand, in the FC treatment of “The Third Use”, it is made clear that our motivation for doing good works comes from our new nature, even though it is imperfect. Quid pro quo is Law; just as we Americans have distorted the meaning of “favor” by insisting that a favor must be returned. But the Gospel is unconditional favor.

    On another point, “The only ‘if’ the Gospel knows is this: ‘if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous’ (1 John 2.1). Does “advocate with the Father” mean that He intercedes with the Father, or that being with the Father He can intercede for us against the powers that wish us harm? I have heard many Lutherans express the belief that it is the former, even though I cannot imagine how that can be.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

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

    I guess I’m a little lost as to why the third use of the law seems controversial. Even Paul had moral commands to give in his letters after his gospel expositions.

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

    I guess I’m a little lost as to why the third use of the law seems controversial. Even Paul had moral commands to give in his letters after his gospel expositions.

  • http://andrewboll.com Andrew

    George-
    Ironic that my devotional topic for today was on “love” as a spiritual weapon and the futility of wielding the Sword of the Spirit without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-2) – you are most welcome to visit my blog and read it there (June 19). If anyone attempts to use the Word of God and I see no evidence of love, I automatically suspect some ulterior motive – using the Gospel (or Law) to advance some other agenda.
    Dr. Veith-
    Thanks for sharing this article and opening a dialogue on a very important issue in the Church. For Christians, God’s love and mercy are evidenced even through His Law as we see how He cares for us and provides a guide to happy, healthy, productive living. To live richly in Him is to see the Law – formerly a source of only fear and despair – be transformed into a fountain of life and blessing wherein we find His ultimate will for His children; true joy in obedience to Him!
    AB

  • http://andrewboll.com Andrew

    George-
    Ironic that my devotional topic for today was on “love” as a spiritual weapon and the futility of wielding the Sword of the Spirit without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-2) – you are most welcome to visit my blog and read it there (June 19). If anyone attempts to use the Word of God and I see no evidence of love, I automatically suspect some ulterior motive – using the Gospel (or Law) to advance some other agenda.
    Dr. Veith-
    Thanks for sharing this article and opening a dialogue on a very important issue in the Church. For Christians, God’s love and mercy are evidenced even through His Law as we see how He cares for us and provides a guide to happy, healthy, productive living. To live richly in Him is to see the Law – formerly a source of only fear and despair – be transformed into a fountain of life and blessing wherein we find His ultimate will for His children; true joy in obedience to Him!
    AB

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  • fws

    the first two paragraphs are truly golden. keepers.

    the rest is pure theological poison.
    Ex John 8:11 “go and sin no more!” stop. sinning.
    Why IS it that people insist on reading this in some nonliteral way? Jesus was telling her to never ever sin again!

    And that is what? conditional? no. It says that apart from Christ the woman is toast!

    andrew @ 4

    “To live richly in Him is to see the Law – formerly a source of only fear and despair – be transformed into a fountain of life and blessing wherein we find His ultimate will for His children; true joy in obedience to Him!”

    Lutherans say this: “The Law only and always accuses and kills.” There is no Life in the Law. Only death. Yes the Law transforms us! it kills our Old Adam! death is transformation true. but….. ahem.

  • fws

    the first two paragraphs are truly golden. keepers.

    the rest is pure theological poison.
    Ex John 8:11 “go and sin no more!” stop. sinning.
    Why IS it that people insist on reading this in some nonliteral way? Jesus was telling her to never ever sin again!

    And that is what? conditional? no. It says that apart from Christ the woman is toast!

    andrew @ 4

    “To live richly in Him is to see the Law – formerly a source of only fear and despair – be transformed into a fountain of life and blessing wherein we find His ultimate will for His children; true joy in obedience to Him!”

    Lutherans say this: “The Law only and always accuses and kills.” There is no Life in the Law. Only death. Yes the Law transforms us! it kills our Old Adam! death is transformation true. but….. ahem.

  • fws

    andrew @ 4

    Lutherans have this to say about the Lords Supper and the Law and faith and the christian life:

    [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.

  • fws

    andrew @ 4

    Lutherans have this to say about the Lords Supper and the Law and faith and the christian life:

    [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.

  • fws

    Reformed look to the Law for “Transformation” and “life”.

    When you read a Reformed person, or a Lutheran person , talk about the Law as being always about the death of the believer, then you know that that person really gets Lutheranism ok?

    The guy you quoted is looking for some “gospel imperative” or a law that does not kill us or accuse us but rather instructs us. or encourages us.

    this is classic Reformed Theology Ed! Calvin teaches that crap. Calvin got it from Melancthon!

    So we Lutherans have that false theology buried in our DNA as well.

    “gospel reminder” and “gospel encouragement” and “gospel imperative” are antinomian expressions.

    The idea is that the Law doesnt REALLY apply to believers now that we are saved. Yeah these men are doin some fancy footwork to not come out and say it…

    But what is the idea? It is this: it is to be able to point to what we do and say “Oh! now THAT think I did was Spirit, and oh! that OTHER thing i did over there? Flesh!

    It is to identify at least something in us, that is visible, that we can cling to, that is evidence that we are saved. Why? They don’t have baptism for that assurance!

    It misses the fact that ALL can see ourselves do is 100% Old Adam.

  • fws

    Reformed look to the Law for “Transformation” and “life”.

    When you read a Reformed person, or a Lutheran person , talk about the Law as being always about the death of the believer, then you know that that person really gets Lutheranism ok?

    The guy you quoted is looking for some “gospel imperative” or a law that does not kill us or accuse us but rather instructs us. or encourages us.

    this is classic Reformed Theology Ed! Calvin teaches that crap. Calvin got it from Melancthon!

    So we Lutherans have that false theology buried in our DNA as well.

    “gospel reminder” and “gospel encouragement” and “gospel imperative” are antinomian expressions.

    The idea is that the Law doesnt REALLY apply to believers now that we are saved. Yeah these men are doin some fancy footwork to not come out and say it…

    But what is the idea? It is this: it is to be able to point to what we do and say “Oh! now THAT think I did was Spirit, and oh! that OTHER thing i did over there? Flesh!

    It is to identify at least something in us, that is visible, that we can cling to, that is evidence that we are saved. Why? They don’t have baptism for that assurance!

    It misses the fact that ALL can see ourselves do is 100% Old Adam.

  • http://andrewboll.com Andrew

    fws:
    The Law certainly only condemns and kills spiritually. But you can’t deny that God’s commands are good and Holy, and that by living according to God’s will we will find more peace and happiness than we ever could apart from it. I’m definitely not saying that anyone should look to the Law for salvation. But we can see evidence of a loving and caring God even in His Law when we view it through the lens of the Gospel – Jesus has fulfilled the requirements of the Law for us, so it no longer condemns and kills the believer. But it still offers all of the benefits of abiding in God’s Word.
    AB

  • http://andrewboll.com Andrew

    fws:
    The Law certainly only condemns and kills spiritually. But you can’t deny that God’s commands are good and Holy, and that by living according to God’s will we will find more peace and happiness than we ever could apart from it. I’m definitely not saying that anyone should look to the Law for salvation. But we can see evidence of a loving and caring God even in His Law when we view it through the lens of the Gospel – Jesus has fulfilled the requirements of the Law for us, so it no longer condemns and kills the believer. But it still offers all of the benefits of abiding in God’s Word.
    AB

  • fws

    Dear brother in Christ Andrew. Thanks for your kind response!

    ANDREW: The Law certainly only condemns and kills spiritually.

    FRANK: The Law certainly only condemns and kills (sound of crickets).
    The wages of sin is physical death as well. This physical death is also a terrifying preachment of the HS using the Law to kill.
    I am 56 years old Andrew. I have how many more healthy years? That is the Law speaking to me!

    ANDREW: But you can’t deny that God’s commands are good and Holy, and that by living according to God’s will we will find more peace and happiness than we ever could apart from it.

    FRANK: This is true. And it is equally true for pagans. Equally. Further, Romans 2:15 says that Pagans completely have this Law of God devinely written in their Reason. NO Bible is needed for this kind of happiness. Nothing can be demanded here beyond what Aristotle excelently outlines in his book Ethics.

    ANDREW: I’m definitely not saying that anyone should look to the Law for salvation.

    FRANK: Our Old Adam constantly is looking there. And our Old Adam clings to us. It is 100% of ALL we are able to effort and do. When our conscience is troubled and restless and we are seeing our sin clearly, we anxiously get busy doing, or make a list of stuff we intend to do. The hardest thing for a troubled conscience to do is… nothing at all. We want to “make things right”. We ask God for a little more time on earth to do what? To reform our lives and settle our account with God! The lifelong and most difficult task of any Christian is rely and trust alone by hiding ALL we can do, in terror, within the works of Another. It is this passive task that alone makes one a Christian in fact! So you are wrong Andrew. Our confessions must always be that we really long to trust in Christ + …. something we can do! And Old Adam lies and justifies such evil thinking by feigning humility by saying it is the HS doing all that. Bull. Shit. This robs Christ and his Work of it’s proper honor. And we should be terrified at this thinking and repent.

    ANDREW: But we can see evidence of a loving and caring God even in His Law when we view it through the lens of the Gospel .

    FRANK: We need no Gospel for that. Reason alone is sufficient for this. The fool says there is no God. Muslims know that God is merciful and that he is good. What is it that muslim cannot know apart from the Gospel? It is only this: that God is merciful, with dead certainty! for HIM personally! Only Holy Baptism can grant this certainty. All others are enslaved to do a sacrifice of Obedience to try to get this confidence. That is precisely what Old Adam’s plan is about!

    ANDREW: – Jesus has fulfilled the requirements of the Law for us, so it no longer condemns and kills the believer.

    FRANK. No. The Law still condemns and kills the believer. And we give thanks for that! The Believer is STILL 100% Old Adam! He hates God. He will never be transformed. He must die. And so the good news is that the Believer is also 100% New Man! So what does he do? He takes up the Law, and has nothing at all to loose. He is already dead! So he takes up that Law as a blunt instrument and bludgeons his Old Adam flesh into submission. And he now, along with the HS confesses his sins which is to condemn and kills his very own flesh! Pagans cant do this! The seek Life by doing the Law. Christians seek their own death with the Law.

    How is it that the Law no longer can accuse us? The believer, as New Man, is dead. the work of the Law is to kill. If we are already dead in Christ, the Law has no more work to do in us. But dont forget Andrew: The Old Adam STILL clings to us. He refuses to die. And the HS needs to continue to kill the believer according to his Old Adam. And the OLD Adam is 100% of all we can observe about us. ALL good the NEw man must do must be done through the agency of Old Adam. Therefore NEw man needs to Goad Old Adam with the Law just in exactly the same way a pagan needs to do that. The difference is that the believer is seeking death in doing this. Pagans seek Life. the believer knows that Life is ONLY in by being hidden in Christ.

    ANDREW: But it still offers all of the benefits of abiding in God’s Word.

    FRANK: God indeed promises earthly blessings and a long life for those who keep his Law, which is the demand to do mercy for others here on earth. God does not need this. Our neighbor does, God even promises heavenly crowns for christians for this earthly carnal righteousness. And God threatens to punish us if we fail to do mercy for others.

    And the Law will make us do what God wants no matter what we do. If we , pagans or believers, learn to do mercy to others with joy, then God will bless us. If we or pagans refuse, then God will send sufferings and plagues to MAKE us do mercy for others . One way or the other the Law WILL get its man.

    We are wrong if we think we do the Law. The Law is doing all of us! And it is doing all of us, including believers, to death! And it is doing this to us so that God can force our Old Adam to do mercy to others. His purpose, in both pagan and believer, is to kill US to have mercy be done for OTHERS. What is death for us in the Law is mercy done for OTHERS. It is small l life for others. Life on earth would be impossible without this work of the HS on ALL of us.

    So stop seeking transformation by doing the Law. Seek instead the death of your Old Adam. Show him no mercy. Then be terrified at all you make him do for the death and sin that it is for you. And then , before God, hide that all in the Works of his dear Son.

    Bless you brother Andrew in your daily killing of your old man and also in your daily rising afresh bound eternally and organically to the very resurrection of Christ himself! Your Baptism has given you that!

    But the Gospel is not at all necessary for ANY of this Andrew!

  • fws

    Dear brother in Christ Andrew. Thanks for your kind response!

    ANDREW: The Law certainly only condemns and kills spiritually.

    FRANK: The Law certainly only condemns and kills (sound of crickets).
    The wages of sin is physical death as well. This physical death is also a terrifying preachment of the HS using the Law to kill.
    I am 56 years old Andrew. I have how many more healthy years? That is the Law speaking to me!

    ANDREW: But you can’t deny that God’s commands are good and Holy, and that by living according to God’s will we will find more peace and happiness than we ever could apart from it.

    FRANK: This is true. And it is equally true for pagans. Equally. Further, Romans 2:15 says that Pagans completely have this Law of God devinely written in their Reason. NO Bible is needed for this kind of happiness. Nothing can be demanded here beyond what Aristotle excelently outlines in his book Ethics.

    ANDREW: I’m definitely not saying that anyone should look to the Law for salvation.

    FRANK: Our Old Adam constantly is looking there. And our Old Adam clings to us. It is 100% of ALL we are able to effort and do. When our conscience is troubled and restless and we are seeing our sin clearly, we anxiously get busy doing, or make a list of stuff we intend to do. The hardest thing for a troubled conscience to do is… nothing at all. We want to “make things right”. We ask God for a little more time on earth to do what? To reform our lives and settle our account with God! The lifelong and most difficult task of any Christian is rely and trust alone by hiding ALL we can do, in terror, within the works of Another. It is this passive task that alone makes one a Christian in fact! So you are wrong Andrew. Our confessions must always be that we really long to trust in Christ + …. something we can do! And Old Adam lies and justifies such evil thinking by feigning humility by saying it is the HS doing all that. Bull. Shit. This robs Christ and his Work of it’s proper honor. And we should be terrified at this thinking and repent.

    ANDREW: But we can see evidence of a loving and caring God even in His Law when we view it through the lens of the Gospel .

    FRANK: We need no Gospel for that. Reason alone is sufficient for this. The fool says there is no God. Muslims know that God is merciful and that he is good. What is it that muslim cannot know apart from the Gospel? It is only this: that God is merciful, with dead certainty! for HIM personally! Only Holy Baptism can grant this certainty. All others are enslaved to do a sacrifice of Obedience to try to get this confidence. That is precisely what Old Adam’s plan is about!

    ANDREW: – Jesus has fulfilled the requirements of the Law for us, so it no longer condemns and kills the believer.

    FRANK. No. The Law still condemns and kills the believer. And we give thanks for that! The Believer is STILL 100% Old Adam! He hates God. He will never be transformed. He must die. And so the good news is that the Believer is also 100% New Man! So what does he do? He takes up the Law, and has nothing at all to loose. He is already dead! So he takes up that Law as a blunt instrument and bludgeons his Old Adam flesh into submission. And he now, along with the HS confesses his sins which is to condemn and kills his very own flesh! Pagans cant do this! The seek Life by doing the Law. Christians seek their own death with the Law.

    How is it that the Law no longer can accuse us? The believer, as New Man, is dead. the work of the Law is to kill. If we are already dead in Christ, the Law has no more work to do in us. But dont forget Andrew: The Old Adam STILL clings to us. He refuses to die. And the HS needs to continue to kill the believer according to his Old Adam. And the OLD Adam is 100% of all we can observe about us. ALL good the NEw man must do must be done through the agency of Old Adam. Therefore NEw man needs to Goad Old Adam with the Law just in exactly the same way a pagan needs to do that. The difference is that the believer is seeking death in doing this. Pagans seek Life. the believer knows that Life is ONLY in by being hidden in Christ.

    ANDREW: But it still offers all of the benefits of abiding in God’s Word.

    FRANK: God indeed promises earthly blessings and a long life for those who keep his Law, which is the demand to do mercy for others here on earth. God does not need this. Our neighbor does, God even promises heavenly crowns for christians for this earthly carnal righteousness. And God threatens to punish us if we fail to do mercy for others.

    And the Law will make us do what God wants no matter what we do. If we , pagans or believers, learn to do mercy to others with joy, then God will bless us. If we or pagans refuse, then God will send sufferings and plagues to MAKE us do mercy for others . One way or the other the Law WILL get its man.

    We are wrong if we think we do the Law. The Law is doing all of us! And it is doing all of us, including believers, to death! And it is doing this to us so that God can force our Old Adam to do mercy to others. His purpose, in both pagan and believer, is to kill US to have mercy be done for OTHERS. What is death for us in the Law is mercy done for OTHERS. It is small l life for others. Life on earth would be impossible without this work of the HS on ALL of us.

    So stop seeking transformation by doing the Law. Seek instead the death of your Old Adam. Show him no mercy. Then be terrified at all you make him do for the death and sin that it is for you. And then , before God, hide that all in the Works of his dear Son.

    Bless you brother Andrew in your daily killing of your old man and also in your daily rising afresh bound eternally and organically to the very resurrection of Christ himself! Your Baptism has given you that!

    But the Gospel is not at all necessary for ANY of this Andrew!

  • fws

    andrew @ 8

    “But the Gospel is not at all necessary for ANY of this Andrew!”

    cut and paste error!

    We do not need Gospel to know and do the Law and to receive many blessings from doing the Law. Nor do we even need the Bible to completely know and do this. Aristotle works just fine.

    We need Christ to present the Law to us in order to make us so terrified at what we can see ourselves do . Then we need to trust in his works alone and our being hidden in them to escape the wrath of God.

    As long as the heart feels accused we flee God. God can only become an Object of Love when the Law no longer has the power to accuse us.

    This can happen only when we are dead and raised by being hidden in the death and resurrection of Christ. It is the water of Holy Baptism that joins us in this way to Christ himself.

    “As many of you as were baptized, have put on Christ!’ This is what that passage means dear Andrew. Nothing at all less.

    How can simple tap water do such great things? It is not the water that does them! it is the Word and Promise of God that he has placed right there in the Water and joined to that water. It is because of this Living and Powerful Word of God that that water becomes a gracious water of regeneration and a renewal of the Holy Spirit Andrew.

  • fws

    andrew @ 8

    “But the Gospel is not at all necessary for ANY of this Andrew!”

    cut and paste error!

    We do not need Gospel to know and do the Law and to receive many blessings from doing the Law. Nor do we even need the Bible to completely know and do this. Aristotle works just fine.

    We need Christ to present the Law to us in order to make us so terrified at what we can see ourselves do . Then we need to trust in his works alone and our being hidden in them to escape the wrath of God.

    As long as the heart feels accused we flee God. God can only become an Object of Love when the Law no longer has the power to accuse us.

    This can happen only when we are dead and raised by being hidden in the death and resurrection of Christ. It is the water of Holy Baptism that joins us in this way to Christ himself.

    “As many of you as were baptized, have put on Christ!’ This is what that passage means dear Andrew. Nothing at all less.

    How can simple tap water do such great things? It is not the water that does them! it is the Word and Promise of God that he has placed right there in the Water and joined to that water. It is because of this Living and Powerful Word of God that that water becomes a gracious water of regeneration and a renewal of the Holy Spirit Andrew.

  • http://andrewboll.com Andrew

    Again, I’m not promoting works-righteousness here (and certainly not trying to imply it in any way). The Bible is clear that we are saved only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is also clear that through this faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, God enables us to serve our neighbor in love and glorify Him. I agree 100% that this does NOTHING for our salvation – that is already complete. But the Gospel allows us to find JOY in serving God rather than doing it out of fear or with a sense of drudgery – it is an act of love rather than of obligation. The Old Adam in us isn’t capable of this – but we have been made alive in Christ and empowered to serve with thanksgiving (through no power or merit of our own). I think you and I would see very much eye-to-eye doctrinally if we were to sit down together – alas, this forum will have to suffice. :)
    AB

  • http://andrewboll.com Andrew

    Again, I’m not promoting works-righteousness here (and certainly not trying to imply it in any way). The Bible is clear that we are saved only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is also clear that through this faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, God enables us to serve our neighbor in love and glorify Him. I agree 100% that this does NOTHING for our salvation – that is already complete. But the Gospel allows us to find JOY in serving God rather than doing it out of fear or with a sense of drudgery – it is an act of love rather than of obligation. The Old Adam in us isn’t capable of this – but we have been made alive in Christ and empowered to serve with thanksgiving (through no power or merit of our own). I think you and I would see very much eye-to-eye doctrinally if we were to sit down together – alas, this forum will have to suffice. :)
    AB

  • fws

    andrew @ 11

    Dear brother Andrew. I am taking great care not to put a single word into your mouth that did not first come out of it. If I fail at this forgive me and correct me.

    ANDREW: Again, I’m not promoting works-righteousness here (and certainly not trying to imply it in any way).
    FRANK: Excellent. I feel the same way.
    ANDREW: The Bible is clear that we are saved only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
    FRANK: Amen!
    ANDREW: It is also clear that through this faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, God enables us to serve our neighbor in love and glorify Him.
    FRANK: Yes! It is important to see that it is the Holy Spirit also “enabling ” pagans also to serve their neighbor in love and even to glorify God. Whenever we see a pagan do a Good Works, we can be certain that it is the Holy Spirit extorting that Good Work out of the pagan’s Old Adam with the Divine Law that is very fully written in his Reason.
    In addition we should know that this is exactly true in exactly the same way when we see a believer doing Good Works! I think maybe we disagree here?
    ANDREW: I agree 100% that this does NOTHING for our salvation – that is already complete.
    FRANK: Amen!!!!!!
    ANDREW: But the Gospel allows us to find JOY in serving God rather than doing it out of fear or with a sense of drudgery – it is an act of love rather than of obligation.
    FRANK: Here I need to make sure I am understanding you clearly: Pagans can’t do a Good Work feeling joy? Not feeling fear, drudgery or sense of obligation? as an act of love? Pagans can’t do acts of real love? So a pagan cannot do any of this?
    Is it our proper motivation connected to our Good Works that “transforms” our Good Work, makes them “christian” as opposed to what? not” christian”…. and somehow, gives them a different quality than the Good Works of pagans?
    ANDREW: The Old Adam in us isn’t capable of this…
    FRANK: Capable of what? joy? love? Can you give me ONE example of a thing , that ONLY a Christian could or would DO that a phoney Christian never would or could do?
    ANDREW: ….but we have been made alive in Christ and empowered to serve with thanksgiving (through no power or merit of our own).
    FRANK: Pagans or fake christians cannot serve with thanksgiving to God? They are not empowered by God? Not in any way?
    ANDREW: I think you and I would see very much eye-to-eye doctrinally if we were to sit down together…
    FRANK: I think so too!
    ANDREW: – alas, this forum will have to suffice.
    FRANK: Yup. Glad to have this conversation with you dear Andrew.

  • fws

    andrew @ 11

    Dear brother Andrew. I am taking great care not to put a single word into your mouth that did not first come out of it. If I fail at this forgive me and correct me.

    ANDREW: Again, I’m not promoting works-righteousness here (and certainly not trying to imply it in any way).
    FRANK: Excellent. I feel the same way.
    ANDREW: The Bible is clear that we are saved only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
    FRANK: Amen!
    ANDREW: It is also clear that through this faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, God enables us to serve our neighbor in love and glorify Him.
    FRANK: Yes! It is important to see that it is the Holy Spirit also “enabling ” pagans also to serve their neighbor in love and even to glorify God. Whenever we see a pagan do a Good Works, we can be certain that it is the Holy Spirit extorting that Good Work out of the pagan’s Old Adam with the Divine Law that is very fully written in his Reason.
    In addition we should know that this is exactly true in exactly the same way when we see a believer doing Good Works! I think maybe we disagree here?
    ANDREW: I agree 100% that this does NOTHING for our salvation – that is already complete.
    FRANK: Amen!!!!!!
    ANDREW: But the Gospel allows us to find JOY in serving God rather than doing it out of fear or with a sense of drudgery – it is an act of love rather than of obligation.
    FRANK: Here I need to make sure I am understanding you clearly: Pagans can’t do a Good Work feeling joy? Not feeling fear, drudgery or sense of obligation? as an act of love? Pagans can’t do acts of real love? So a pagan cannot do any of this?
    Is it our proper motivation connected to our Good Works that “transforms” our Good Work, makes them “christian” as opposed to what? not” christian”…. and somehow, gives them a different quality than the Good Works of pagans?
    ANDREW: The Old Adam in us isn’t capable of this…
    FRANK: Capable of what? joy? love? Can you give me ONE example of a thing , that ONLY a Christian could or would DO that a phoney Christian never would or could do?
    ANDREW: ….but we have been made alive in Christ and empowered to serve with thanksgiving (through no power or merit of our own).
    FRANK: Pagans or fake christians cannot serve with thanksgiving to God? They are not empowered by God? Not in any way?
    ANDREW: I think you and I would see very much eye-to-eye doctrinally if we were to sit down together…
    FRANK: I think so too!
    ANDREW: – alas, this forum will have to suffice.
    FRANK: Yup. Glad to have this conversation with you dear Andrew.

  • http://andrewboll.com Andrew

    fws:
    “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
    I think that apart from God, people do many “Good Works” – even with a joyful heart. But my belief is that these are always directed at someone who has, can, or might reciprocate in some way. Perhaps they feel a sense of obligation or expect some kind of emotional, financial, or relational return. But the kind of love that God has shown to us – unconditional, undeserving love for enemies who can do nothing in return – is something different. Are we capable of this kind of love? Certainly not on our own. But as Luther says, “It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to His neighbor.” The members of Christ’s body are enabled by His love to share the Gospel and provide for the physical and emotional needs of even those who hate them – something that we really don’t see secular society or pagan theology. Sure, many philosophers have promoted “doing good,” but there’s always a catch; some kind of pay-off or reward. The Christian doesn’t do these things for any kind of reward precisely because there is none – Christ is all and has done all.
    I am also very glad to have had this coversation with you. My only fear is that we are monopolizing this forum, and I don’t want to perturb anyone. :) I also don’t want it to appear that we are merely “arguing” rather than engaging in discussion to “sharpen iron with iron.” Would it be better to continue this discourse through personal email? I’m still learning the nuances of “net-iquette”…
    AB

  • http://andrewboll.com Andrew

    fws:
    “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
    I think that apart from God, people do many “Good Works” – even with a joyful heart. But my belief is that these are always directed at someone who has, can, or might reciprocate in some way. Perhaps they feel a sense of obligation or expect some kind of emotional, financial, or relational return. But the kind of love that God has shown to us – unconditional, undeserving love for enemies who can do nothing in return – is something different. Are we capable of this kind of love? Certainly not on our own. But as Luther says, “It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to His neighbor.” The members of Christ’s body are enabled by His love to share the Gospel and provide for the physical and emotional needs of even those who hate them – something that we really don’t see secular society or pagan theology. Sure, many philosophers have promoted “doing good,” but there’s always a catch; some kind of pay-off or reward. The Christian doesn’t do these things for any kind of reward precisely because there is none – Christ is all and has done all.
    I am also very glad to have had this coversation with you. My only fear is that we are monopolizing this forum, and I don’t want to perturb anyone. :) I also don’t want it to appear that we are merely “arguing” rather than engaging in discussion to “sharpen iron with iron.” Would it be better to continue this discourse through personal email? I’m still learning the nuances of “net-iquette”…
    AB

  • fws

    andrew @ 13

    I challenged you to give me just one thing a phoney christian our pagan could or would never do that a only a christian could or would do.

    Are you saying that loving like Christ loves, is something pagans cannot do as well as Christians can?

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/forgiveness

    http://www.internationalforgiveness.com/

    http://www.thepowerofforgiveness.com/

    http://theforgivenessproject.com/

  • fws

    andrew @ 13

    I challenged you to give me just one thing a phoney christian our pagan could or would never do that a only a christian could or would do.

    Are you saying that loving like Christ loves, is something pagans cannot do as well as Christians can?

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/forgiveness

    http://www.internationalforgiveness.com/

    http://www.thepowerofforgiveness.com/

    http://theforgivenessproject.com/


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