“I will show you my faith by my works”

More from Sunday’s sermon, in which Pastor Douthwaite also picked up on the Epistle reading, James 2:1-10:

What James said: I will show you my faith by my works does not mean that I will show you that I believe by what I do – it means that I will show you what I believe by what I do. For everyone believes something. Even Atheists. They believe there is no God and that belief shows in what they do – or don’t do. So too with secularism, humanism, environmentalism, whatever “-ism” you like. If you believe it, it shapes you, and if it shapes you it will show in your life. Because that’s who you are.

So for Christians, for you and me, what do we believe? Some believe they can do whatever they want because Christ will just forgive them later, and they live like that. Some believe that Christ is a new Moses, a new lawgiver, and has come to give us a new set of rules and regulations, and they live like that. Some believe that Christ has come to make us healthy, wealthy, and wise, and they live like that.

But on the basis on this Gospel, and Isaiah, and what we’ve been thinking about today, what do we believe and so how do we live? If Jesus has spoken His ephphatha to you and set you free from sin, death, and the devil, what does that look like? What does it mean to be set free from idolatry, from selfishness, and from fear? It means the freedom to forgive because I am forgiven. It is the freedom to love because I am loved. It is the freedom to give because I receive. It means the freedom to serve because I am served. It is the freedom to provide for others because my Father provides for me. All these things and more because I cannot out-give my Father and Saviour. And as I believe, so I do. I will show you my faith – what I believe – by how I live, by my works.

And if you and I don’t do these things, if you find yourself struggling to do these things, you know what? It’s not a works problem! And so the answer isn’t just to buckle down and try harder or for me to stand up here and either give you a pep talk or berate you. (We got enough of that kind of thing at the political conventions these past two weeks!) No, if we find ourselves not doing these things or struggling with them, it’s a faith problem. Not that you don’t have faith, but that our faith is sometimes weak and that faith is often hard. And so the answer is to be ephphatha-ed again, to be opened again, to receive again and again the love and forgiveness and healing of Jesus here for you. For that is what changes you. That is what raises you. That is what makes the difference.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Pentecost 15 Sermon.

I know, I know, you atheists, your argument that you can be moral without belief in God and that you are always insisting on how good you are.  That’s not what this is saying.  Your belief or lack of belief influences your behavior.  If you don’t believe in God, you sleep in on Sunday mornings.  If you are charitable, you don’t give money to churches but to causes like Planned Parenthood.  Right?  To switch the example, someone who believes in the God of the Bible is unlikely to worship in a Hindu temple, and if he does, it is reasonable to question his allegiance to a deity who forbids worshipping other gods.  And someone with faith in the Gospel of Christ cannot be self-righteous and, being conscious of having received mercy, cannot be merciless.

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.

  • Richard Kauzlarich

    Extremely powerful — both the sermon point and your amplification. Thank you.

  • Richard Kauzlarich

    Extremely powerful — both the sermon point and your amplification. Thank you.

  • Michael B.

    “Your belief or lack of belief influences your behavior.”

    Yes. There are so many “beliefs” that people claim to believe, but actually don’t. When you believe something, it’s like pushing a lever in your brain. Consider the statement, “You’ve just won the lottery”, or “your kid has just been kidnapped”. These statements are just strings of words, but once you actually believe them, it fundamentally changes you and your actions.

  • Michael B.

    “Your belief or lack of belief influences your behavior.”

    Yes. There are so many “beliefs” that people claim to believe, but actually don’t. When you believe something, it’s like pushing a lever in your brain. Consider the statement, “You’ve just won the lottery”, or “your kid has just been kidnapped”. These statements are just strings of words, but once you actually believe them, it fundamentally changes you and your actions.

  • Booklover

    This is a profound interpretation, one to ponder on throughout the year.

  • Booklover

    This is a profound interpretation, one to ponder on throughout the year.

  • larry

    That’s a BRILLIANT clarification.

  • larry

    That’s a BRILLIANT clarification.

  • WebMonk

    someone who believes in the God of the Bible is unlikely to worship in a Hindu temple, and if he does, it is reasonable to question his allegiance to a deity who forbids worshipping other gods.

    How far does a person take this, though?

    Someone who believes in the God of the Bible is unlikely to _____, and if he does, it is reasonable to question his allegiance to a deity who forbids _____.

    Let’s try filling in those blanks with different things to see if it holds up: “have sex before marriage” and “sex outside marriage”, or “steal money” and “stealing”, or “murder people” and “murder”.

    Which things are valid to fill in the blanks?

    God forbids worshiping false gods, and those who do so while claiming to be be Christians have a doubtful salvation. (as I’m understand the statement)

    God forbids stealing, and so those who do so while claiming to be Christians have a doubtful salvation. <– I assume you would disagree with that. So, which sins can fill in the blanks and be "doubtful salvation" and which sins can't be filled into the blanks.

    And someone with faith in the Gospel of Christ cannot be self-righteous and, being conscious of having received mercy, cannot be merciless.

    I hope this is not meant literally. I have been self-righteous and I have been merciless. If this was meant literally, you’re saying I don’t have faith in the Gospel of Christ. Everyone here has been self-righteous and merciless. Surely you don’t mean that no one has faith in the Gospel of Christ. (I understand “faith in the Gospel of Christ” to be saving faith, and so I read that as meaning if a person doesn’t have “faith in the Gospel of Christ” then they are not saved.)

    I would appreciate a clarification on that before talking about this part further.

  • WebMonk

    someone who believes in the God of the Bible is unlikely to worship in a Hindu temple, and if he does, it is reasonable to question his allegiance to a deity who forbids worshipping other gods.

    How far does a person take this, though?

    Someone who believes in the God of the Bible is unlikely to _____, and if he does, it is reasonable to question his allegiance to a deity who forbids _____.

    Let’s try filling in those blanks with different things to see if it holds up: “have sex before marriage” and “sex outside marriage”, or “steal money” and “stealing”, or “murder people” and “murder”.

    Which things are valid to fill in the blanks?

    God forbids worshiping false gods, and those who do so while claiming to be be Christians have a doubtful salvation. (as I’m understand the statement)

    God forbids stealing, and so those who do so while claiming to be Christians have a doubtful salvation. <– I assume you would disagree with that. So, which sins can fill in the blanks and be "doubtful salvation" and which sins can't be filled into the blanks.

    And someone with faith in the Gospel of Christ cannot be self-righteous and, being conscious of having received mercy, cannot be merciless.

    I hope this is not meant literally. I have been self-righteous and I have been merciless. If this was meant literally, you’re saying I don’t have faith in the Gospel of Christ. Everyone here has been self-righteous and merciless. Surely you don’t mean that no one has faith in the Gospel of Christ. (I understand “faith in the Gospel of Christ” to be saving faith, and so I read that as meaning if a person doesn’t have “faith in the Gospel of Christ” then they are not saved.)

    I would appreciate a clarification on that before talking about this part further.

  • Jon

    A pastor who can easily handle James with a full Gospel tilt like this is highly to be commended.

  • Jon

    A pastor who can easily handle James with a full Gospel tilt like this is highly to be commended.

  • CRB

    The life of a Christian is a life of repentance, period! We fall into sin, are convicted by God’s Law and raised up by God’s Gospel. I would not speak to a non-believer and tell him, “Look at my life, what I am doing.” Rather, I would speak of Christ, the one who kept the Law perfectly in my place and then suffered and died for my failing to keep the Law. The focus must always be on Jesus and what He has done in His perfect life, death and resurrection.

  • CRB

    The life of a Christian is a life of repentance, period! We fall into sin, are convicted by God’s Law and raised up by God’s Gospel. I would not speak to a non-believer and tell him, “Look at my life, what I am doing.” Rather, I would speak of Christ, the one who kept the Law perfectly in my place and then suffered and died for my failing to keep the Law. The focus must always be on Jesus and what He has done in His perfect life, death and resurrection.

  • helen

    Webmonk @ 5
    A person who does any of the things you mentioned endangers his salvation if he does not repent and amend his behavior, because continuing to sin without repentance will lead him away from God.

    That is why Luther said the Christian life must be one of continual repentance, “for we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment.”

    Whether our sins are in thought, word or [criminal] deed, we have much to repent of, and nothing to feel self-righteous about. Any “righteousness” we have is a gift of God.

  • helen

    Webmonk @ 5
    A person who does any of the things you mentioned endangers his salvation if he does not repent and amend his behavior, because continuing to sin without repentance will lead him away from God.

    That is why Luther said the Christian life must be one of continual repentance, “for we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment.”

    Whether our sins are in thought, word or [criminal] deed, we have much to repent of, and nothing to feel self-righteous about. Any “righteousness” we have is a gift of God.

  • DonS

    A very good sermon.

  • DonS

    A very good sermon.

  • WebMonk

    All right, I won’t disagree with you helen, but what you wrote and what Veith wrote certainly seem to be very different statements.

    If we don’t repent of our sins and change our behavior, we might lose our salvation? Just clarifying what you’re saying.

    It sounds like Dr. Veith said that specific sins are just not done by Christians, and if one does those sins then they aren’t Christians (or at least their salvation is very suspect). He gave worshiping Hindu gods as a thing that shows a person isn’t a Christian. I wonder what other things qualify as sins, that if committed, show a person isn’t a Christian.

  • WebMonk

    All right, I won’t disagree with you helen, but what you wrote and what Veith wrote certainly seem to be very different statements.

    If we don’t repent of our sins and change our behavior, we might lose our salvation? Just clarifying what you’re saying.

    It sounds like Dr. Veith said that specific sins are just not done by Christians, and if one does those sins then they aren’t Christians (or at least their salvation is very suspect). He gave worshiping Hindu gods as a thing that shows a person isn’t a Christian. I wonder what other things qualify as sins, that if committed, show a person isn’t a Christian.

  • helen

    Unbelief is the only unforgiveable sin.
    You can repent of all else, but if you don’t believe, you won’t repent.
    If you don’t believe and repent, how can you be forgiven?

    Re worshipping other gods, how can you believe “no one comes to the Father but by [Christ] and then bow to that piece of sculpture?
    (Or, as at the RNC, bow your head while that ‘god’ is being invoked?)

    With sexual sin, it seems especially tempting to say, “Did God really say… ?” and then people do what “feels good”, until it doesn’t. Then regrets! I suppose addictions work the same way?

    The more obvious sins you mentioned put us in jeopardy, but so do the “thought sins” : jealousy, resentment, coveting, anger, if we don’t regret and repent.
    There is no room for self-righteousness; the only righteousness we have is a gift from God.

  • helen

    Unbelief is the only unforgiveable sin.
    You can repent of all else, but if you don’t believe, you won’t repent.
    If you don’t believe and repent, how can you be forgiven?

    Re worshipping other gods, how can you believe “no one comes to the Father but by [Christ] and then bow to that piece of sculpture?
    (Or, as at the RNC, bow your head while that ‘god’ is being invoked?)

    With sexual sin, it seems especially tempting to say, “Did God really say… ?” and then people do what “feels good”, until it doesn’t. Then regrets! I suppose addictions work the same way?

    The more obvious sins you mentioned put us in jeopardy, but so do the “thought sins” : jealousy, resentment, coveting, anger, if we don’t regret and repent.
    There is no room for self-righteousness; the only righteousness we have is a gift from God.

  • WebMonk

    Not disagreeing with you helen. Just wondering what was meant by Dr. Veith.

  • WebMonk

    Not disagreeing with you helen. Just wondering what was meant by Dr. Veith.

  • helen

    I’ll cease to repeat myself, then, (Sorry!) and let Dr. Veith handle it. ;)

  • helen

    I’ll cease to repeat myself, then, (Sorry!) and let Dr. Veith handle it. ;)

  • dust

    sorry, but this does not sound like anything new….am not going to call it sophistry, but if, according to the sermon, am supposed to show you “what” i believe, and then actually do that, it seems to me have also just showed “that” you believe….because that belief is what moved me to do those things in the first place, that is, to show you “what” i believe?

    seems like a distinction without a difference?

    am sure fws could straighten it all out :)

    cheers!

  • dust

    sorry, but this does not sound like anything new….am not going to call it sophistry, but if, according to the sermon, am supposed to show you “what” i believe, and then actually do that, it seems to me have also just showed “that” you believe….because that belief is what moved me to do those things in the first place, that is, to show you “what” i believe?

    seems like a distinction without a difference?

    am sure fws could straighten it all out :)

    cheers!

  • George A. Marquart

    “What does it mean to be set free from idolatry, from selfishness, and from fear? It means the freedom to forgive because I am forgiven. It is the freedom to love because I am loved. It is the freedom to give because I receive. It means the freedom to serve because I am served.”

    This is what Lutherans have believed and proclaimed for centuries, but it is totally wrong. Because it is wrong, it also leads to various controversies about what sins are forgivable and which ones are not.

    As we are seeing in many places in the world today, when people become free, they do not begin to be good. Without a change in their nature, which is “sinful and unclean”, people simply cannot begin to do good. For a number of reasons, covering which would fill a library, we Lutherans have for centuries downplayed the fact that in Baptism, when the Holy Spirit begins to dwell in us, our nature is changed in such a way that we want to do the will of God. Therefore, it is only this new creature, which, having been set free from “idolatry, from selfishness, and from fear”, wants to “forgive”, “love”, “give”, and “serve”. This is what both Scripture and our Confessions clearly teach.

    It is also true, affirmed by Scripture and our Confession, that this change in the nature of people is not perfect; hence the expression, “simul iustus et peccator.” We will continue to sin, to be merciless, to be self-righteous, until we leave this earth. Is this what you are getting at, WebMonk @5? But our Lord said, Matthew 12, “31 Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

    From what we know about history, Baptism alone is not enough to guarantee that we will be remain children of God forever. The fact that 90% of all the Germans who committed atrocities during the Nazi regime were baptized, including Hitler, clearly reflects this reality. A similar percentage of Russians, including Lenin and Stalin, were baptized, but murdered even more people than the Nazis.

    Evidently it is necessary to maintain those who are baptized in the Kingdom. This is what family, godparents, pastors, teachers, friends are all about as well as the proclamation of the pure Gospel and participation in the Lord’s Supper. I think I can make a case for the argument that the proclamation of the Gospel did not take place in Germany and Russia to a degree that could have prevented those horrors. I also believe that the Parable of the Sower, who sowed on different types of soil, is about this. After all, can the plant choose the soil into which it is dropped?

    As to who is and who is not a member of the Kingdom of God, that is His judgment. The fact that anyone sins in any way, as grievous as it may be, does not give us the right to write them out of the Kingdom of God. We must “appeal”, as Paul does in Romans, “by the mercies of God”; we must exhort, remind and even confront as Nathan did to David, but judgment is the Lord’s. Indeed, God does not desire the death of a sinner, and His mercy and power are beyond our understanding.

    And finally, Helen @8. You are quoting the first of the 95 Theses. It never made it into the Lutheran Confessions, because it is not Scriptural. Repentance and contrition are indeed virtuous, but if our life is “continual repentance” then we are devoting our lives entirely to our own salvation. God forgives the sins of His children as soon as they are committed. That is the “iustus” part of “simul iustus et peccator.” Our Lord placed repentance (Not the Repentance that takes place when we become children of God, but the every day repentance of the child of God) pretty far down in His prayer. In fact, when we pray “and forgive us our trespasses …” we ask that God would continue to forgive our sins in the coming day; those of yesterday are already forgiven.

    Having “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) by Baptism, being set free from our own sins, we can serve our neighbor, without worrying about our eternal destiny. Our Lord will speak to us when He says, Matthew 25:34,”Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    “What does it mean to be set free from idolatry, from selfishness, and from fear? It means the freedom to forgive because I am forgiven. It is the freedom to love because I am loved. It is the freedom to give because I receive. It means the freedom to serve because I am served.”

    This is what Lutherans have believed and proclaimed for centuries, but it is totally wrong. Because it is wrong, it also leads to various controversies about what sins are forgivable and which ones are not.

    As we are seeing in many places in the world today, when people become free, they do not begin to be good. Without a change in their nature, which is “sinful and unclean”, people simply cannot begin to do good. For a number of reasons, covering which would fill a library, we Lutherans have for centuries downplayed the fact that in Baptism, when the Holy Spirit begins to dwell in us, our nature is changed in such a way that we want to do the will of God. Therefore, it is only this new creature, which, having been set free from “idolatry, from selfishness, and from fear”, wants to “forgive”, “love”, “give”, and “serve”. This is what both Scripture and our Confessions clearly teach.

    It is also true, affirmed by Scripture and our Confession, that this change in the nature of people is not perfect; hence the expression, “simul iustus et peccator.” We will continue to sin, to be merciless, to be self-righteous, until we leave this earth. Is this what you are getting at, WebMonk @5? But our Lord said, Matthew 12, “31 Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

    From what we know about history, Baptism alone is not enough to guarantee that we will be remain children of God forever. The fact that 90% of all the Germans who committed atrocities during the Nazi regime were baptized, including Hitler, clearly reflects this reality. A similar percentage of Russians, including Lenin and Stalin, were baptized, but murdered even more people than the Nazis.

    Evidently it is necessary to maintain those who are baptized in the Kingdom. This is what family, godparents, pastors, teachers, friends are all about as well as the proclamation of the pure Gospel and participation in the Lord’s Supper. I think I can make a case for the argument that the proclamation of the Gospel did not take place in Germany and Russia to a degree that could have prevented those horrors. I also believe that the Parable of the Sower, who sowed on different types of soil, is about this. After all, can the plant choose the soil into which it is dropped?

    As to who is and who is not a member of the Kingdom of God, that is His judgment. The fact that anyone sins in any way, as grievous as it may be, does not give us the right to write them out of the Kingdom of God. We must “appeal”, as Paul does in Romans, “by the mercies of God”; we must exhort, remind and even confront as Nathan did to David, but judgment is the Lord’s. Indeed, God does not desire the death of a sinner, and His mercy and power are beyond our understanding.

    And finally, Helen @8. You are quoting the first of the 95 Theses. It never made it into the Lutheran Confessions, because it is not Scriptural. Repentance and contrition are indeed virtuous, but if our life is “continual repentance” then we are devoting our lives entirely to our own salvation. God forgives the sins of His children as soon as they are committed. That is the “iustus” part of “simul iustus et peccator.” Our Lord placed repentance (Not the Repentance that takes place when we become children of God, but the every day repentance of the child of God) pretty far down in His prayer. In fact, when we pray “and forgive us our trespasses …” we ask that God would continue to forgive our sins in the coming day; those of yesterday are already forgiven.

    Having “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) by Baptism, being set free from our own sins, we can serve our neighbor, without worrying about our eternal destiny. Our Lord will speak to us when He says, Matthew 25:34,”Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Pete

    to WebMonk @5

    I wonder if the clarification that you are seeking relates to the “simultaneous saint and sinner” idea. As a sinner, you ( me, and everyone else) are indeed self-righteous and merciless. Even sometimes when we might appear to be non-self-righteous and merciful. Yet, as saints, clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, we are perfectly humble and merciful – though we might appear not to be.

  • Pete

    to WebMonk @5

    I wonder if the clarification that you are seeking relates to the “simultaneous saint and sinner” idea. As a sinner, you ( me, and everyone else) are indeed self-righteous and merciless. Even sometimes when we might appear to be non-self-righteous and merciful. Yet, as saints, clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, we are perfectly humble and merciful – though we might appear not to be.

  • Pete

    Ach! #15 beat me by a millisecond!

  • Pete

    Ach! #15 beat me by a millisecond!

  • Pete

    Well, 6 minutes.

  • Pete

    Well, 6 minutes.

  • dust

    Pete….you know for the Lord, a millisecond is like 6 minutes and 6 minutes is like a millisecond :)

    cheers!

  • dust

    Pete….you know for the Lord, a millisecond is like 6 minutes and 6 minutes is like a millisecond :)

    cheers!

  • #4 Kitty

    I know, I know, you atheists, your argument that you can be moral without belief in God and that you are always insisting on how good you are.

    Since you mentioned it….Here’s a debate between William Lane Craig and the Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale University Shelly Kagan entitled “Is God Necessary for Morality”. Bill Craig is a brilliant debater and as much as I disagree with him I’ve never seen him defeated ~ except here. I think Shelly presents a stronger argument.

  • #4 Kitty

    I know, I know, you atheists, your argument that you can be moral without belief in God and that you are always insisting on how good you are.

    Since you mentioned it….Here’s a debate between William Lane Craig and the Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale University Shelly Kagan entitled “Is God Necessary for Morality”. Bill Craig is a brilliant debater and as much as I disagree with him I’ve never seen him defeated ~ except here. I think Shelly presents a stronger argument.

  • George A. Marquart

    Helen @8

    To my earlier comments, I wanted to add that it was not simply a matter of Luther being wrong; it was a different Luther from the one we celebrate in the Confessions. When he wrote the 95 Theses he had not yet discovered the Gospel; he was still terrified by an angry God Whom he was unable to appease. Therefore, constant repentance was the only possibility he saw out of his dilemma and he was uncertain whether even that would get the job done. He had yet to discover that, “the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from the works of the Law.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Helen @8

    To my earlier comments, I wanted to add that it was not simply a matter of Luther being wrong; it was a different Luther from the one we celebrate in the Confessions. When he wrote the 95 Theses he had not yet discovered the Gospel; he was still terrified by an angry God Whom he was unable to appease. Therefore, constant repentance was the only possibility he saw out of his dilemma and he was uncertain whether even that would get the job done. He had yet to discover that, “the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from the works of the Law.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “I will show you my faith by my works does not mean that I will show you that I believe by what I do – it means that I will show you what I believe by what I do. ”

    I have to say that’s the most enlightening thing I’ve read in quite a while. James has always been the source of a bit of a confusion for me, and now it makes more sense.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “I will show you my faith by my works does not mean that I will show you that I believe by what I do – it means that I will show you what I believe by what I do. ”

    I have to say that’s the most enlightening thing I’ve read in quite a while. James has always been the source of a bit of a confusion for me, and now it makes more sense.

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

    WebMonk @ 5,

    There needs to be made a distinction between those who fall into sin vs. those who wallow in it.

    Even Paul, that great expositor of grace, made it clear in Galatians 5:19-21 and I Corinthians 6:9-10 that those who practice habitual, flagrant, and impenitent sin should not be under the delusion that they are children of God.

    Such flagrant patterned behavior denotes unbelief. Therefore, it is quite applicable.

    James is just as much the Word of God as Paul is. Let’s not forget that.

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

    WebMonk @ 5,

    There needs to be made a distinction between those who fall into sin vs. those who wallow in it.

    Even Paul, that great expositor of grace, made it clear in Galatians 5:19-21 and I Corinthians 6:9-10 that those who practice habitual, flagrant, and impenitent sin should not be under the delusion that they are children of God.

    Such flagrant patterned behavior denotes unbelief. Therefore, it is quite applicable.

    James is just as much the Word of God as Paul is. Let’s not forget that.

  • Michael B.

    @4Kitty

    I’ll check that debate out. I would be curious as to ask whether Craig thinks you can have math without God, or any kind of truth? I think people single out morality as having to originate from a divine source because of the complexity of morality. Morality involves a system that acts to promote the well-being of humans and other conscious creatures, and since there are so many variables, it’s very complex. But consider how complicated the idea of health is. And people have shifting ideas of what health means too. It might be in the future that you are considered unhealthy if you are 80 and can’t run 12 miles. Yet no one will claim that we can’t make some definite statements on what is healthy and what isn’t.

  • Michael B.

    @4Kitty

    I’ll check that debate out. I would be curious as to ask whether Craig thinks you can have math without God, or any kind of truth? I think people single out morality as having to originate from a divine source because of the complexity of morality. Morality involves a system that acts to promote the well-being of humans and other conscious creatures, and since there are so many variables, it’s very complex. But consider how complicated the idea of health is. And people have shifting ideas of what health means too. It might be in the future that you are considered unhealthy if you are 80 and can’t run 12 miles. Yet no one will claim that we can’t make some definite statements on what is healthy and what isn’t.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think the real power of Pr. Douthwaite’s point (at least in this excerpt) is in the last paragraph there.

    I think more pastors desperately, desperately need to emulate this style. Far too often, I’ve heard sermons (or exhortations) that begin with the Gospel and then lead to the Law. I’m not criticizing that direction, as such. What Douthwaite says in the third paragraph is true. We are free to do all those things, and ought to act accordingly. Ought to. But that’s Law. If you end there, I’m inclined to despair.

    But, to his credit, Douthwaite doesn’t end there. He asks the question we’re all thinking: but what if that doesn’t describe my life? And, thank God, he doesn’t tell us to try harder. Or to have more faith. Which is the same answer. No, he points us back to Jesus. Back to the Gospel. And he points out that it is Jesus that makes the difference.

    Indeed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think the real power of Pr. Douthwaite’s point (at least in this excerpt) is in the last paragraph there.

    I think more pastors desperately, desperately need to emulate this style. Far too often, I’ve heard sermons (or exhortations) that begin with the Gospel and then lead to the Law. I’m not criticizing that direction, as such. What Douthwaite says in the third paragraph is true. We are free to do all those things, and ought to act accordingly. Ought to. But that’s Law. If you end there, I’m inclined to despair.

    But, to his credit, Douthwaite doesn’t end there. He asks the question we’re all thinking: but what if that doesn’t describe my life? And, thank God, he doesn’t tell us to try harder. Or to have more faith. Which is the same answer. No, he points us back to Jesus. Back to the Gospel. And he points out that it is Jesus that makes the difference.

    Indeed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Dean (@23) said:

    There needs to be made a distinction between those who fall into sin vs. those who wallow in it.

    Hooh boy. Right there, you’re painting this as if some people sin passively (not on purpose), while others sin actively (on purpose). I have yet to see any sin being committed passively.

    …those who practice habitual, flagrant, and impenitent sin should not be under the delusion that they are children of God.

    That’s not what Paul says. Read it again. With bigger context, please. Like, for instance, read Galatians 5:17, where Paul tells Christians:

    For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

    (My emphasis, obviously.) So, yes, Christians will commit sexual immorality, they will be impure, they will debauch themselves, they will have idols, they will hate, they will be selfish and divisive, and so on. They ought not, but they will.

    However, the whole point is that “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”. Now, obviously Paul doesn’t mean here that Christians have therefore stopped heeding the sinful nature. He just told them they do not do what they want (cf. also Romans 7).

    Likewise with 1 Corinthians 6. True enough, “the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God”. But what makes us wicked? Is it that we sin? Yes. But then what makes us not wicked? Is it that we stop sinning? No.

    But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    See the difference there? What took away the wickedness? An act of man’s will, or an act of God’s mercy?

    Meanwhile, one wonders where you get your claim that “those who practice habitual, flagrant, and impenitent sin [are not] children of God”. You sin habitually, J. Dean. I don’t even have to know you personally to assert that. You do. It’s a fact of life. You also sin flagrantly. After all, you know what is right, and yet you do wrong. Flagrant. And, yes, you also sin impenitently. God willing, you will repent after the fact, but it is self-obvious that you were not penitent as you were committing the sin.

    So then the question, J. Dean: are you therefore a child of God or not? And if you are, what makes it so? Is it that your sins are better than someone else’s? Are your sins tinier, less offensive? Or is it something else that makes one a child of God?

    Finally, there is this:

    James is just as much the Word of God as Paul is. Let’s not forget that.

    Let’s not forget how the canon actually came about. Let’s not forget that James is among the Antilegomena. Yes, we can say it is the Word of God, but let’s not pretend that we have a “flat Bible”, in which any verse or passage has as much a claim to inform our understanding of the rest of Scripture as any other. No, Paul is not to be found among the Antilegomena, and the sheer number of his epistles in the canon — to say nothing of the number of times he simply refutes the apparent reading many have of James — does tend to make it a ridiculous claim that we should read the whole of Paul in light of James. Quite the opposite.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Dean (@23) said:

    There needs to be made a distinction between those who fall into sin vs. those who wallow in it.

    Hooh boy. Right there, you’re painting this as if some people sin passively (not on purpose), while others sin actively (on purpose). I have yet to see any sin being committed passively.

    …those who practice habitual, flagrant, and impenitent sin should not be under the delusion that they are children of God.

    That’s not what Paul says. Read it again. With bigger context, please. Like, for instance, read Galatians 5:17, where Paul tells Christians:

    For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

    (My emphasis, obviously.) So, yes, Christians will commit sexual immorality, they will be impure, they will debauch themselves, they will have idols, they will hate, they will be selfish and divisive, and so on. They ought not, but they will.

    However, the whole point is that “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”. Now, obviously Paul doesn’t mean here that Christians have therefore stopped heeding the sinful nature. He just told them they do not do what they want (cf. also Romans 7).

    Likewise with 1 Corinthians 6. True enough, “the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God”. But what makes us wicked? Is it that we sin? Yes. But then what makes us not wicked? Is it that we stop sinning? No.

    But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    See the difference there? What took away the wickedness? An act of man’s will, or an act of God’s mercy?

    Meanwhile, one wonders where you get your claim that “those who practice habitual, flagrant, and impenitent sin [are not] children of God”. You sin habitually, J. Dean. I don’t even have to know you personally to assert that. You do. It’s a fact of life. You also sin flagrantly. After all, you know what is right, and yet you do wrong. Flagrant. And, yes, you also sin impenitently. God willing, you will repent after the fact, but it is self-obvious that you were not penitent as you were committing the sin.

    So then the question, J. Dean: are you therefore a child of God or not? And if you are, what makes it so? Is it that your sins are better than someone else’s? Are your sins tinier, less offensive? Or is it something else that makes one a child of God?

    Finally, there is this:

    James is just as much the Word of God as Paul is. Let’s not forget that.

    Let’s not forget how the canon actually came about. Let’s not forget that James is among the Antilegomena. Yes, we can say it is the Word of God, but let’s not pretend that we have a “flat Bible”, in which any verse or passage has as much a claim to inform our understanding of the rest of Scripture as any other. No, Paul is not to be found among the Antilegomena, and the sheer number of his epistles in the canon — to say nothing of the number of times he simply refutes the apparent reading many have of James — does tend to make it a ridiculous claim that we should read the whole of Paul in light of James. Quite the opposite.

  • dust

    Michael B.@24…..can you have math w/out god? can you have any truth w/out god? those are the deep (knee deep?) questions of all time?

    well, you can’t have any of those kinds of things w/out man and god created man…so that bit o’ truth might make a difference in some people’s answers :)

    cheers!

  • dust

    Michael B.@24…..can you have math w/out god? can you have any truth w/out god? those are the deep (knee deep?) questions of all time?

    well, you can’t have any of those kinds of things w/out man and god created man…so that bit o’ truth might make a difference in some people’s answers :)

    cheers!

  • SKPeterson

    Todd @ 26 – I’ll leave the few hundred spaces open for Frank (he’s been somewhat quiet of late, hasn’t he?), but I think you get to the heart of the matter regarding repentance. We are definitely not in repentance when we are deep in the midst of our sins, we are actually in blatant rebellion. But, it is in retrospect, what we have traditionally called that period of self-examination, that we recognize that we are sinners, that we do need to repent, and to a large degree repent for our lack of repentance. We trust that the Holy Spirit will do His work and convict us, and for us to recognize our sin, repent of it and trust (again) in the forgiveness of those sins we commit both passively and actively, by omission and commission.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd @ 26 – I’ll leave the few hundred spaces open for Frank (he’s been somewhat quiet of late, hasn’t he?), but I think you get to the heart of the matter regarding repentance. We are definitely not in repentance when we are deep in the midst of our sins, we are actually in blatant rebellion. But, it is in retrospect, what we have traditionally called that period of self-examination, that we recognize that we are sinners, that we do need to repent, and to a large degree repent for our lack of repentance. We trust that the Holy Spirit will do His work and convict us, and for us to recognize our sin, repent of it and trust (again) in the forgiveness of those sins we commit both passively and actively, by omission and commission.

  • helen

    IMHO, tODD covered sufficiently for fws.

  • helen

    IMHO, tODD covered sufficiently for fws.

  • Michael B.

    @J. Dean

    This is a big contrast with Judaism. In Judaism, the Law is viewed as perfectly reasonable and something you should be able to keep. Sometimes we look at their dietary restrictions as burdensome, but look how many restrictions on diet we have today. Furthermore, the Law is viewed as a gift itself. It’s guidance from God. On the other hand, in Christianity, it’s expected you’ll break the law. How unreasonable hard is it to keep the law? Well in the history of man kind, only 1 person has done it.

  • Michael B.

    @J. Dean

    This is a big contrast with Judaism. In Judaism, the Law is viewed as perfectly reasonable and something you should be able to keep. Sometimes we look at their dietary restrictions as burdensome, but look how many restrictions on diet we have today. Furthermore, the Law is viewed as a gift itself. It’s guidance from God. On the other hand, in Christianity, it’s expected you’ll break the law. How unreasonable hard is it to keep the law? Well in the history of man kind, only 1 person has done it.

  • Joanne

    Now, how are we going to talk about these subjects without talking about Hamlet?

    It is in Act III scene 3, when Claudius forestalls Hamlet’s revenge by confessing his sins to God in his own private chapel, that the audience can be sure of his guilt. He is shown to be discontent and unhappy with the events taking place. The young prince spies him brooding about his wrongdoings and trying to pray for forgiveness, but he knows all too well that prayer alone will not save him if he continues to benefit from his own sin. If he was to truly repent, he would have to confess his sin and give up all he achieved through it, which he chooses not to do. Despite his remorse, the King still seeks Hamlet’s death in an effort to save both his throne and his life, as he believes the prince is now aware of his part in Old King Hamlet’s death. Hamlet is ready to kill him, only to back down, feeling that to kill the King in such a way would contradict the revenge conditions given to him by his father, who commanded him specifically: “Taint not thy mind.” Wikipedia (2012,09)

    Actually, Hamlet has a chance to kill King Claudius at his prayers in his private chapel. But he stops himself, reasoning that if he kills him at prayer, then King Claudius will surely go to heaven. The King has shriven himself before God and the whole audience, now for the first time knows “he done it.” Surely death now would greatly benefit Claudius, so Hamlet holds his weapon for a chance to kill the King when he is sinning.

    Now, we know this is old Gothic piety, to think that one will go to hell if they die while sinning. And, has not our Hamlet just returned from Wittenburg University with his two school chums? Did he learn no theology there? And, of course Shakespeare is written even later when such old ideas whould be much on the wain in England as well. We often find Gothic Christian ideas and concepts in Shakespeare, where even in England they should be dying out.

    The question is: Does a Christian go to hell if he dies will comitting a crime, a sin, something evil? And if his time were cut short by an angry step-son, the King is still forgiven all his sins. He has confessed with great remorse, seemingly without the benefit of his Father Confessor. Now, Christians don’t go to hell because they are killed while sinning. The benefits of his crime hang heavily upon him, the man who killed his brother to userp bed, throne, and crown.

    Still, he must stop sinning by enjoying his ill gotten booty. This could turn into an intractable sin, were it not for Hamlet’s passions, and the approach of Fortinbras Army. King Claudius fritters away his time trying to extricate himself from a too, too solid heir. Claudius does indeed die while committing a heinous act, the murder of Hamlet with a poisoned sword and poisoned wine which between the two pretty much kills the whole cast.

    Now, it is very true that we cannot see into a man’s heart; only God can do that, not even the Devil can know our most inward thoughts. But, Shakespeare clearly intends for us to believe the King Claudius has died in his sins unrepentant (author’s of cource can see the innermost toughts of their characters.)

    But, the correct answer is that Christians are in the State of Grace from a lifetime of faith starting with baptism, constantantly hearing the Word of God preached, Confession/absolution, and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord. Any sin, ever so slight if committed outside of Christ, will kill. Any sin, no matter how egregious, if committed by a Christian in the State of Grace, is forgivable.

    It is Isaiah who tells us that in the sight of God, all our works, good and bad are as the filthy rags women wear during menstruation. It is the author of Hebrews who tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith in his Son. Christians are “justified” not because they love each other and do good deed everyday, feed, clothe, visit the sick and imprisoned, homeless and you took me in.

    The law, in this case we call it the Natural Law is written on everyman’s heart, that he sould have no excuse. Hindus are some of the most chast and honorable people on earth. If good works could get you to heaven, put on a saffron robe and go beg for rice as the Buddist do. All religions, because of their knowledge of the Natural Law know how to do good works. They just don’t now how to do good works that Gods declares righteous and acceptable.

    All us religious people do good works for our gods and those we love. There is no ignorance here and Thomas Acquinas was capable of finding perfecly good reason for doing good from the writing of Aristoteles.

    But, I’ve focused only on the second table. It is the first table of the Law and the object of our worship and belief that makes a good work count for anything before God. Ho On. I am a jealous God visiting the iniquities of those who hate me unto the third and fourth generations.

    Christians are told that after Justification, the Spirit of God lives in them and will regenerate them and help them to do many things that will please God. And, how do we know what will please God, the Law of course, in it’s 3rd use.

  • Joanne

    Now, how are we going to talk about these subjects without talking about Hamlet?

    It is in Act III scene 3, when Claudius forestalls Hamlet’s revenge by confessing his sins to God in his own private chapel, that the audience can be sure of his guilt. He is shown to be discontent and unhappy with the events taking place. The young prince spies him brooding about his wrongdoings and trying to pray for forgiveness, but he knows all too well that prayer alone will not save him if he continues to benefit from his own sin. If he was to truly repent, he would have to confess his sin and give up all he achieved through it, which he chooses not to do. Despite his remorse, the King still seeks Hamlet’s death in an effort to save both his throne and his life, as he believes the prince is now aware of his part in Old King Hamlet’s death. Hamlet is ready to kill him, only to back down, feeling that to kill the King in such a way would contradict the revenge conditions given to him by his father, who commanded him specifically: “Taint not thy mind.” Wikipedia (2012,09)

    Actually, Hamlet has a chance to kill King Claudius at his prayers in his private chapel. But he stops himself, reasoning that if he kills him at prayer, then King Claudius will surely go to heaven. The King has shriven himself before God and the whole audience, now for the first time knows “he done it.” Surely death now would greatly benefit Claudius, so Hamlet holds his weapon for a chance to kill the King when he is sinning.

    Now, we know this is old Gothic piety, to think that one will go to hell if they die while sinning. And, has not our Hamlet just returned from Wittenburg University with his two school chums? Did he learn no theology there? And, of course Shakespeare is written even later when such old ideas whould be much on the wain in England as well. We often find Gothic Christian ideas and concepts in Shakespeare, where even in England they should be dying out.

    The question is: Does a Christian go to hell if he dies will comitting a crime, a sin, something evil? And if his time were cut short by an angry step-son, the King is still forgiven all his sins. He has confessed with great remorse, seemingly without the benefit of his Father Confessor. Now, Christians don’t go to hell because they are killed while sinning. The benefits of his crime hang heavily upon him, the man who killed his brother to userp bed, throne, and crown.

    Still, he must stop sinning by enjoying his ill gotten booty. This could turn into an intractable sin, were it not for Hamlet’s passions, and the approach of Fortinbras Army. King Claudius fritters away his time trying to extricate himself from a too, too solid heir. Claudius does indeed die while committing a heinous act, the murder of Hamlet with a poisoned sword and poisoned wine which between the two pretty much kills the whole cast.

    Now, it is very true that we cannot see into a man’s heart; only God can do that, not even the Devil can know our most inward thoughts. But, Shakespeare clearly intends for us to believe the King Claudius has died in his sins unrepentant (author’s of cource can see the innermost toughts of their characters.)

    But, the correct answer is that Christians are in the State of Grace from a lifetime of faith starting with baptism, constantantly hearing the Word of God preached, Confession/absolution, and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord. Any sin, ever so slight if committed outside of Christ, will kill. Any sin, no matter how egregious, if committed by a Christian in the State of Grace, is forgivable.

    It is Isaiah who tells us that in the sight of God, all our works, good and bad are as the filthy rags women wear during menstruation. It is the author of Hebrews who tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith in his Son. Christians are “justified” not because they love each other and do good deed everyday, feed, clothe, visit the sick and imprisoned, homeless and you took me in.

    The law, in this case we call it the Natural Law is written on everyman’s heart, that he sould have no excuse. Hindus are some of the most chast and honorable people on earth. If good works could get you to heaven, put on a saffron robe and go beg for rice as the Buddist do. All religions, because of their knowledge of the Natural Law know how to do good works. They just don’t now how to do good works that Gods declares righteous and acceptable.

    All us religious people do good works for our gods and those we love. There is no ignorance here and Thomas Acquinas was capable of finding perfecly good reason for doing good from the writing of Aristoteles.

    But, I’ve focused only on the second table. It is the first table of the Law and the object of our worship and belief that makes a good work count for anything before God. Ho On. I am a jealous God visiting the iniquities of those who hate me unto the third and fourth generations.

    Christians are told that after Justification, the Spirit of God lives in them and will regenerate them and help them to do many things that will please God. And, how do we know what will please God, the Law of course, in it’s 3rd use.

  • George A. Marquart

    Joanne @31

    Although I find the excursion into Hamlet edifying, as a Lutheran, as far as matters of the faith are concerned, I have to stick to “sola Scriptura”. Whatever we may learn from Hamlet, it remains fiction. Its underlying religious motif represents solely the opinion of the author and cannot serve as guide to the Christian faith. Therefore I will only comment on two of your paragraphs:

    You wrote:
    “But, the correct answer is that Christians are in the State of Grace from a lifetime of faith starting with baptism, constantantly hearing the Word of God preached, Confession/absolution, and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord. Any sin, ever so slight if committed outside of Christ, will kill. Any sin, no matter how egregious, if committed by a Christian in the State of Grace, is forgivable.”

    Christians are members of the Kingdom of God, which is a Kingdom of grace and mercy. Colossians 1: 13, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Not only is every sin in the Kingdom “forgivable” it is, in fact forgiven. Jeremiah 31:33, speaking about the New Covenant, “And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Christian are remorseful for the sins they commit, but if our salvation depended on confessing every one of our sins, we would all be doomed. If it depended on the sincerity of our repentance (is it “real” repentance?) we could never be sure of God’s favor. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we ourselves don’t even remember a fraction of our sins. Being a citizen of the Kingdom of God means that your sins are forgiven.

    You wrote,
    “Christians are told that after Justification, the Spirit of God lives in them and will regenerate them and help them to do many things that will please God. And, how do we know what will please God, the Law of course, in it’s 3rd use.”

    The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us at Baptism, as Peter proclaimed at Pentecost, Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

    What is the work that pleases God? Here is how our Lord responded to that question, John 6: 28, “Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” On another occasion He said, John 13: 34, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    As to the Law, here again is what our Lord said when asked about it, Matthew 22: 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” So all of that business about the Third Use is fine and good, but we don’t really need to remember all of its complexities. Our Lord Himself knew that if we find our security in Him, the security which He won for us by His life, suffering, and death, then living in His Kingdom should not be a burden, Matthew 11: 28, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    Also, the wonderful words of St. Paul, Romans 5:3, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” That means there is no conflict. He doesn’t continually check “if we’ve been good or bad.” He loves us with a perfect love that demands nothing from us: when we sin, He forgives us; when we serve our neighbor, He delights in His children. That is how our Lord gives us rest from carrying heavy burdens.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Joanne @31

    Although I find the excursion into Hamlet edifying, as a Lutheran, as far as matters of the faith are concerned, I have to stick to “sola Scriptura”. Whatever we may learn from Hamlet, it remains fiction. Its underlying religious motif represents solely the opinion of the author and cannot serve as guide to the Christian faith. Therefore I will only comment on two of your paragraphs:

    You wrote:
    “But, the correct answer is that Christians are in the State of Grace from a lifetime of faith starting with baptism, constantantly hearing the Word of God preached, Confession/absolution, and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord. Any sin, ever so slight if committed outside of Christ, will kill. Any sin, no matter how egregious, if committed by a Christian in the State of Grace, is forgivable.”

    Christians are members of the Kingdom of God, which is a Kingdom of grace and mercy. Colossians 1: 13, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Not only is every sin in the Kingdom “forgivable” it is, in fact forgiven. Jeremiah 31:33, speaking about the New Covenant, “And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Christian are remorseful for the sins they commit, but if our salvation depended on confessing every one of our sins, we would all be doomed. If it depended on the sincerity of our repentance (is it “real” repentance?) we could never be sure of God’s favor. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we ourselves don’t even remember a fraction of our sins. Being a citizen of the Kingdom of God means that your sins are forgiven.

    You wrote,
    “Christians are told that after Justification, the Spirit of God lives in them and will regenerate them and help them to do many things that will please God. And, how do we know what will please God, the Law of course, in it’s 3rd use.”

    The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us at Baptism, as Peter proclaimed at Pentecost, Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

    What is the work that pleases God? Here is how our Lord responded to that question, John 6: 28, “Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” On another occasion He said, John 13: 34, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    As to the Law, here again is what our Lord said when asked about it, Matthew 22: 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” So all of that business about the Third Use is fine and good, but we don’t really need to remember all of its complexities. Our Lord Himself knew that if we find our security in Him, the security which He won for us by His life, suffering, and death, then living in His Kingdom should not be a burden, Matthew 11: 28, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    Also, the wonderful words of St. Paul, Romans 5:3, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” That means there is no conflict. He doesn’t continually check “if we’ve been good or bad.” He loves us with a perfect love that demands nothing from us: when we sin, He forgives us; when we serve our neighbor, He delights in His children. That is how our Lord gives us rest from carrying heavy burdens.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

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

    tODD @ 26,

    So you’re telling me that a person who simply sins in persistent, habitual patters without any sort of conviction about it should have no doubts whatsoever as to his status (or lack thereof) in the kingdom of God?

    How do you weigh this against Romans 6:1-2?

    Or let’s take this a step further: what would you think about Paul had he been converted but continued to persecute Christians for the Sanhedrin? What would you think about David had he written his wonderful testimony of confession and repentance in Psalm 51, then proceeded to do a thousand more times what he did with Bathsheba and Uriah?

    I’ll be the first to agree that perfectionism is impossible, and that the Old Adam will still endeavor to rear its ugly head again and again in our lives. I’ll also be the first to condemn any sort of works-righteousness view of sanctification as well.

    But I’ll also argue against the notion that Christianity is merely intellectual or merely internal, and that any change whatsoever in the outward man is optional. To argue a Christianity that results in no change whatsoever in the actions of a man is to exalt Antinomianism, and Luther himself condemned this.

    Consider this excerpt from Luther’s Sermon on June 7, 1545:
    “The blood of Christ kills sin; it does not make it alive, which is the work of the devil, who inflames the desire that makes human beings murderers and adulterers. Christ did not die so that you might remain that kind of sinner, but so that sin, having been slain, might be blotted out, and you might henceforth love God and your neighbor. Faith takes away sins and puts them to death, so that you might not live in them but in righteousness. Therefore, show by your works and your fruits that there is faith in you. If not, the blood of Christ does not help. If you are a usurer, disobedient, neglectful of your station, then look to see whether you believe. For faith is victorious, triumphant, a conqueror of the world [1 John 5:4]. If you truly believe, you would not commit usury or adultery; you would not be disobedient.”

    Luther certainly expected to see a change in our lives. What’s so unreasonable about that?

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

    tODD @ 26,

    So you’re telling me that a person who simply sins in persistent, habitual patters without any sort of conviction about it should have no doubts whatsoever as to his status (or lack thereof) in the kingdom of God?

    How do you weigh this against Romans 6:1-2?

    Or let’s take this a step further: what would you think about Paul had he been converted but continued to persecute Christians for the Sanhedrin? What would you think about David had he written his wonderful testimony of confession and repentance in Psalm 51, then proceeded to do a thousand more times what he did with Bathsheba and Uriah?

    I’ll be the first to agree that perfectionism is impossible, and that the Old Adam will still endeavor to rear its ugly head again and again in our lives. I’ll also be the first to condemn any sort of works-righteousness view of sanctification as well.

    But I’ll also argue against the notion that Christianity is merely intellectual or merely internal, and that any change whatsoever in the outward man is optional. To argue a Christianity that results in no change whatsoever in the actions of a man is to exalt Antinomianism, and Luther himself condemned this.

    Consider this excerpt from Luther’s Sermon on June 7, 1545:
    “The blood of Christ kills sin; it does not make it alive, which is the work of the devil, who inflames the desire that makes human beings murderers and adulterers. Christ did not die so that you might remain that kind of sinner, but so that sin, having been slain, might be blotted out, and you might henceforth love God and your neighbor. Faith takes away sins and puts them to death, so that you might not live in them but in righteousness. Therefore, show by your works and your fruits that there is faith in you. If not, the blood of Christ does not help. If you are a usurer, disobedient, neglectful of your station, then look to see whether you believe. For faith is victorious, triumphant, a conqueror of the world [1 John 5:4]. If you truly believe, you would not commit usury or adultery; you would not be disobedient.”

    Luther certainly expected to see a change in our lives. What’s so unreasonable about that?

  • Joanne

    A royal castle would have a clerical staff. Likely the librarians there would be clerics of some kind. There would be the castle chapel where services would be said every morning and afternoon. On Sundays, the populace would hope to catch a glimpse of the nobles in their furstenloge in town at the cathedral.

    But, there would be an official Preacher at the chapel at Elsenor, who might normally be the King’s confessor as well. We might well understand that the new King, Claudius, would prefer a different and new confessor. Perhaps a young man just graduated with Hamlet who could ride along in Hamlet’s party as they return from Wittenberg.

    Now imagine you are that young man and the king has summoned you to hear his terrible confession that night in his private chapel while a murderous Hamlet, who might also be your beichtkind, is calculating the best time to kill the king. You may know, even in your short stay, from hearing so many confesssions more than any other person at Elsinor, except the author of this fiction about the legendary Hamlet.

    Though not specifically mentioned, the Queen considers you at least partially responsibable for Ophelia’s death. A more experience confessor, like old Prester Johan, would have stopped her suicide, somehow.

    But here you are, late at nigth, with both candles lighted on the tiny altar with it’s medieval altar piece, sitting in your modest, heavy, oaken confessor’s chair, awaiting the King. This will actually be the King’s first confession to you since you arrived. You had understood you were at Elsenore by the King’s special insistance and had expected the King’s confession to be your first to hear. But, months had passed and besides the confetior, you had not laid your forgiving hands on the King’s head.

    You are a young man, Elsinor has been your first position since you were recently freed from the gentle tuelage of Melancthon and perhaps even Luther. You have heard Luther preach as if you were in awe. But, you’ve always had a father confessor, even at Wittenberg, so the confessors part you know well. But you’ve been thrown half-born as it were into the role of a King’s confessor, usually the job of a cleric of much higher rank. The assistant Superintendant in Elsenor diocese had let the young man know that he, as Danish nobility and of a certain age and much experience, had expected the preferment.

    As you hear footsteps on the stone floors, for a fleeting second you thought perhaps the late night call to confession was bogus and you were there to be dispached yourself. These Danes are only half-civilized. Then just as you think you might have heard a second set of footsteps on the staircase, the King exploded into the tiny chapel, which is adjacent to his quarters, but he had not come from there. He had been brooding on the catwalks of the castle walls.

    The king, a big burley man, almost filled the tiny chapel. When he knelt at the altar rail next to your small confession chair, you felt utterly trapped in your corner. For comfort, you glanced up at the peaceful smiling faces of the Holy Mother Mary and her child, who beamed warmth back at you in the ample candle light. But, the king only mumbled so that you weren’t sure when to begin.

    Suddenly the King paused, and you jump-in hoping for the blandest of confessions, and the shortest. But, instead, the King confessed all to you, talking on and on telling you horrible sins. Out the side of your eye you catch sight of Hamlet by the glint of his blade in the candle light. Hamlet crouched as if to spring, but nothing happened.

    Now, you know why you are here and in a instant you age 20 years and respond as a much older man would.

    If you’re going to die for knowing too much, then you will make the King do a full confession, with penitial psalms, with a chant of De Profundis, with a solid promise to sin no more, and with the charge for him to give up all that he has gained from his sin. Then, Te absolvo. He looks up and Hamlet is gone. Then just as suddenly as he had entered, the King left, never to confess again.

    You are sent to a small parish in Jutland the next day, to be the assistant to a pastor who needs no assistant. It is often said that one is safest if one knows nothing about a thing, but it is just as easy to kill a man in Juteland as in Elsinor.

  • Joanne

    A royal castle would have a clerical staff. Likely the librarians there would be clerics of some kind. There would be the castle chapel where services would be said every morning and afternoon. On Sundays, the populace would hope to catch a glimpse of the nobles in their furstenloge in town at the cathedral.

    But, there would be an official Preacher at the chapel at Elsenor, who might normally be the King’s confessor as well. We might well understand that the new King, Claudius, would prefer a different and new confessor. Perhaps a young man just graduated with Hamlet who could ride along in Hamlet’s party as they return from Wittenberg.

    Now imagine you are that young man and the king has summoned you to hear his terrible confession that night in his private chapel while a murderous Hamlet, who might also be your beichtkind, is calculating the best time to kill the king. You may know, even in your short stay, from hearing so many confesssions more than any other person at Elsinor, except the author of this fiction about the legendary Hamlet.

    Though not specifically mentioned, the Queen considers you at least partially responsibable for Ophelia’s death. A more experience confessor, like old Prester Johan, would have stopped her suicide, somehow.

    But here you are, late at nigth, with both candles lighted on the tiny altar with it’s medieval altar piece, sitting in your modest, heavy, oaken confessor’s chair, awaiting the King. This will actually be the King’s first confession to you since you arrived. You had understood you were at Elsenore by the King’s special insistance and had expected the King’s confession to be your first to hear. But, months had passed and besides the confetior, you had not laid your forgiving hands on the King’s head.

    You are a young man, Elsinor has been your first position since you were recently freed from the gentle tuelage of Melancthon and perhaps even Luther. You have heard Luther preach as if you were in awe. But, you’ve always had a father confessor, even at Wittenberg, so the confessors part you know well. But you’ve been thrown half-born as it were into the role of a King’s confessor, usually the job of a cleric of much higher rank. The assistant Superintendant in Elsenor diocese had let the young man know that he, as Danish nobility and of a certain age and much experience, had expected the preferment.

    As you hear footsteps on the stone floors, for a fleeting second you thought perhaps the late night call to confession was bogus and you were there to be dispached yourself. These Danes are only half-civilized. Then just as you think you might have heard a second set of footsteps on the staircase, the King exploded into the tiny chapel, which is adjacent to his quarters, but he had not come from there. He had been brooding on the catwalks of the castle walls.

    The king, a big burley man, almost filled the tiny chapel. When he knelt at the altar rail next to your small confession chair, you felt utterly trapped in your corner. For comfort, you glanced up at the peaceful smiling faces of the Holy Mother Mary and her child, who beamed warmth back at you in the ample candle light. But, the king only mumbled so that you weren’t sure when to begin.

    Suddenly the King paused, and you jump-in hoping for the blandest of confessions, and the shortest. But, instead, the King confessed all to you, talking on and on telling you horrible sins. Out the side of your eye you catch sight of Hamlet by the glint of his blade in the candle light. Hamlet crouched as if to spring, but nothing happened.

    Now, you know why you are here and in a instant you age 20 years and respond as a much older man would.

    If you’re going to die for knowing too much, then you will make the King do a full confession, with penitial psalms, with a chant of De Profundis, with a solid promise to sin no more, and with the charge for him to give up all that he has gained from his sin. Then, Te absolvo. He looks up and Hamlet is gone. Then just as suddenly as he had entered, the King left, never to confess again.

    You are sent to a small parish in Jutland the next day, to be the assistant to a pastor who needs no assistant. It is often said that one is safest if one knows nothing about a thing, but it is just as easy to kill a man in Juteland as in Elsinor.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Dean (@33), you asked:

    So you’re telling me that a person who simply sins in persistent, habitual patters without any sort of conviction about it should have no doubts whatsoever as to his status (or lack thereof) in the kingdom of God?

    Again, I think you still fail to see that that description applies to you, as well. I’m quite certain that, like the rest of us, you sin persistently and habitually. I’m also quite certain that, while you are sinning, you are not, as such, “convicted” about it.

    So again I would ask you: do you think you’re a child of God?

    If your answer is “yes”, is it because you think you sin better than those other people who you think should answer “no”? Are your willful, habitual, persistent sins less offensive to a holy God? What’s the metric here?

    It sounds to me like you want people to look to their own sinfulness to determine their place in heaven. “How are your sins? Not so bad? Not too frequent? Didn’t mean to? Then come on in, says God. Good enough!” Or something like that.

    How do you weigh this against Romans 6:1-2?

    By not proof-texting. That is to say, I keep reading. And I find that, while I agree with Romans 6, yet in Romans 7 Paul tells me how that works out. Shall we go on sinning? No, no we shouldn’t. But we do. You do.

    What would you think about David had he written his wonderful testimony of confession and repentance in Psalm 51, then proceeded to do a thousand more times what he did with Bathsheba and Uriah?

    You make it sound like David stopped sinning after he wrote Psalm 51. He didn’t. He kept sinning. Like the rest of us. I’m sure more than a thousand times before he died. So I would think what God Himself thought of David: that he sinned, and yet was saved, by God’s grace. My question to you is: why was he saved? Were his sins not so bad? Not so many in number?

    Anyhow, I’m not arguing for “a Christianity that results in no change whatsoever” — that’s your straw man. We are to repent, there is no question. But, once again, that’s the Law speaking. Are we saved by our repentance? Are you repentant enough to take away your sins?

    Don’t put your faith in your repentance. Put your faith in Jesus. God, working through that faith by his Spirit, is the one who will and acts in you. And, as such, your New Man will act.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Dean (@33), you asked:

    So you’re telling me that a person who simply sins in persistent, habitual patters without any sort of conviction about it should have no doubts whatsoever as to his status (or lack thereof) in the kingdom of God?

    Again, I think you still fail to see that that description applies to you, as well. I’m quite certain that, like the rest of us, you sin persistently and habitually. I’m also quite certain that, while you are sinning, you are not, as such, “convicted” about it.

    So again I would ask you: do you think you’re a child of God?

    If your answer is “yes”, is it because you think you sin better than those other people who you think should answer “no”? Are your willful, habitual, persistent sins less offensive to a holy God? What’s the metric here?

    It sounds to me like you want people to look to their own sinfulness to determine their place in heaven. “How are your sins? Not so bad? Not too frequent? Didn’t mean to? Then come on in, says God. Good enough!” Or something like that.

    How do you weigh this against Romans 6:1-2?

    By not proof-texting. That is to say, I keep reading. And I find that, while I agree with Romans 6, yet in Romans 7 Paul tells me how that works out. Shall we go on sinning? No, no we shouldn’t. But we do. You do.

    What would you think about David had he written his wonderful testimony of confession and repentance in Psalm 51, then proceeded to do a thousand more times what he did with Bathsheba and Uriah?

    You make it sound like David stopped sinning after he wrote Psalm 51. He didn’t. He kept sinning. Like the rest of us. I’m sure more than a thousand times before he died. So I would think what God Himself thought of David: that he sinned, and yet was saved, by God’s grace. My question to you is: why was he saved? Were his sins not so bad? Not so many in number?

    Anyhow, I’m not arguing for “a Christianity that results in no change whatsoever” — that’s your straw man. We are to repent, there is no question. But, once again, that’s the Law speaking. Are we saved by our repentance? Are you repentant enough to take away your sins?

    Don’t put your faith in your repentance. Put your faith in Jesus. God, working through that faith by his Spirit, is the one who will and acts in you. And, as such, your New Man will act.


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