Sanctification and Vocation

The estimable Anthony Sacramone has been carrying on a fascinating and helpful discussion (in two posts here and here on Jonathan Fisk’s  Broken) about the Lutheran view of the Christian life, how it perhaps doesn’t do enough with sanctification.  I think the missing link, so to speak, is the doctrine of vocation.  Here is a somewhat revised version of what I posted as a comment:

The doctrine of vocation is not just about our work.  It really is the Lutheran doctrine of the Christian life.  We are brought to faith through Word and Sacrament and then we live out that faith in love and service to our neighbors.  “Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God  has called him” (1 Corinthians 7:17).  And God assigns us and calls us to various and multiple tasks in the orders that He has created for human beings:  the household (the family plus economic labor), the church, the state, and what Luther called “the general order of Christian love” (the informal relationships of friendship, interactions with others,  as in the Good Samaritan parable, etc.) . Vocation is where sanctification happens, where we exercise our faith, where we battle with sin, where we grow “in faith towards you [God], and in fervent love for one another” (as it says at the end of the liturgy, when we are sent back into our vocations).

I wonder if the problem is the ordinariness of the good works that take place in vocation.  As Einar Billing says in Our Calling, “In all our religious and ethical life, we are given to an incredible overestimation of the extraordinary at the expense of the ordinary.”   You say that when you were growing up, it seemed like all the Lutherans you knew were just plodding along pursuing a middle class lifestyle, with lots of respect for authority.  Well, you speak of that as if it were a little thing.  I suspect that whether they were pursuing a “middle class” or a “lower class” lifestyle, they were attending to their families, to their work, and to their communities (going to Kiwanis, going bowling with their buddies, watching a game).  These all have to do with vocation.  Now I recall that when I was young and didn’t particularly have vocations of my own that I knew about (though I had the vocation of being a son, a student, and more, though I didn’t think of them in that way), I looked down on the mundane life of those adults, but now I have a lot of respect for that.

It was John Wesley, I believe, who, though coming to faith by hearing Luther’s Commentary on Romans, said of Lutherans that they were good on the Gospel but “weak on sanctification.”  Lutherans shouldn’t brag on that, but rather deny that it is true.  Wesley was really strong on sanctification and became a model of pious behavior.  And yet his marriage was miserable.  He mistreated his wife and she mistreated him.  Luther would say that there is something lacking when a Christian does great things for the Lord, but neglects his calling in marriage.  (All due respect to Wesley,  by the way, a great evangelist.  He was, in fact, the great preacher and exemplar of sanctification, the call to holiness, attaining the second gift of perfection.  And yet he and his wife refused to love and serve each other.)  Sanctification without vocation tends to be reduced to minor asceticisms (not drinking or smoking), or to monastic-style doing great deeds for the Lord (becoming a missionary or starting a ministry).  Those can indeed be worthy vocations for some people.  But for most Christians in this vein, when you ask them  what works they are doing that are so good, so sanctifying, they usually don’t amount to all that much after all.  But they can still have great significance.  And they usually take place in the context of vocation:  Being a good husband, a good father, a good worker, a good citizen.  These things are hard.  They are frustrating, filled with trials and tribulations but also occasions for growth.   They’ll make you plenty holy if you do them in faith.

You talked about the constant repetitions of Lutheranism, a sense that there is no progress being made.  We sin, we repent, we receive forgiveness in church, we go back into our vocations, whereupon we sin, we repent, we receive forgiveness in church.  Lather (work yourself up), rinse (return to your baptism), repeat.   But this is a cycle, like the days of the week or the seasons of the year, an order of life.  Yes, in our vocations we often do not love and serve our neighbors (like our wife, our children, our customers); rather, we want them to love and serve us.  So we sin in and against our vocations.  Then we come to church, and, as the Catechism says about “what sins we should confess,”  we consider our various “stations” (i.e., vocations) in light of the Ten Commandments and we receive absolution from the pastor as from Christ himself (“as a called [vocation reference] and ordained servant of the word”), just as God works through all of our vocations.  And in the service we hear God’s Word, experience Christ’s presence and realize again His sacrifice for us,  and we are built up in our faith.  Whereupon we are sent back into our vocations to live out that “faith working through love.”  That’s how we grow and how we make progress, though with much slippage along the way.  But it’s a real thing that is happening.  As for conquering the sins we struggle with, believe me, individual confession and absolution is the best and most powerful way to do that, as many will testify.

Luther is actually the best theologian I have read about ethics and the Christian life.  He says that for a good work to be “good” it should actually help someone.  That is, it should be directed to one’s neighbor, as opposed to being directed to God.  He gives all kinds of practical guidance for how this plays out in everyday life.

Do read Gustaf Wingren’s Luther on Vocation, the book that made the scales fall off of my eyes about the Christian life.  (Read  Koeberle’s The Quest for Holiness too, as other commenters have been recommending.)

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.

  • Stephen

    Great article. Many of my friends are not Lutherans, strong Christians but not Lutheran. I’ve found out too Vocation is the missing link in many of our ramblings about the Christian life. It never ceases to amaze me though that some of the protestant backgrounds which so heavily emphasize sanctification have virtually no way to articulate this concept we call vocation. When I do get to talk about vocation though, they are all like, “Yea, that make perfect sense.” So, at least in my circle of friends, no one has ever accused me of being weak on sanctification.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    “The Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies us in true faith.” – M. Luther

    Yes, Virginia..He’s in charge of that, too!

  • Joe

    Dr. Veith – that was a great little piece. It was really to the point and says so much of what I often try to convey to others. I am very thankful for your efforts to revive the Doctrine of Vocation. I grew up in a family where being a good father, hard worker, good mother etc. was the norm, was expected but I never understood it as really the focal point of the life of a Christian. In some ways, I saw devotion to the family as potentially at odds with devotion to God. Your book God at Work really cleared this up for me. I give your book to as many people as I can convince to read it.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I’ve had conversations with Tony on this before and have referred him to this nugget of wisdom from Professor Kurt Marquart, who years ago had this to say on what Tony is finding lacking in some contemporary Lutheran presentations on justification and sanctification:

    Antinomian Aversion to Sanctification?

    An emerited brother writes that he is disturbed by a kind of preaching that avoids sanctification and “seemingly questions the Formula of Concord . . . about the Third Use of the Law.” The odd thing is that this attitude, he writes, is found among would-be confessional pastors, even though it is really akin to the antinomianism of “Seminex”! He asks, “How can one read the Scriptures over and over and not see how much and how often our Lord (in the Gospels) and the Apostles (in the Epistles) call for Christian sanctification, crucifying the flesh, putting down the old man and putting on the new man, abounding in the work of the Lord, provoking to love and good works, being fruitful . . . ?”

    I really have no idea where the anti-sanctification bias comes from. Perhaps it is a knee-jerk over-reaction to “Evangelicalism”: since they stress practical guidance for daily living, we should not! Should we not rather give even more and better practical guidance, just because we distinguish clearly between Law and Gospel? Especially given our anti-sacramental environment, it is of course highly necessary to stress the holy means of grace in our preaching. But we must beware of creating a kind of clericalist caricature that gives the impression that the whole point of the Christian life is to be constantly taking in preaching, absolution and Holy Communion-while ordinary daily life and callings are just humdrum time-fillers in between! That would be like saying that we live to eat, rather than eating to live. The real point of our constant feeding by faith, on the Bread of Life, is that we might gain an ever-firmer hold of Heaven-and meanwhile become ever more useful on earth! We have, after all, been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Cars, too, are not made to be fueled and oiled forever at service-stations. Rather, they are serviced in order that they might yield useful mileage in getting us where we need to go. Real good works before God are not showy, sanctimonious pomp and circumstance, or liturgical falderal in church, but, for example, “when a poor servant girl takes care of a little child or faithfully does what she is told” (Large Catechism, Ten Commandments, par. 314, Kolb-Wengert, pg. 428).

    The royal priesthood of believers needs to recover their sense of joy and high privilege in their daily service to God (1 Pet. 2:9). The “living sacrifice” of bodies, according to their various callings, is the Christian’s “reasonable service” or God-pleasing worship, to which St. Paul exhorts the Romans “by the mercies of God” (Rom. 12:1), which he had set out so forcefully in the preceding eleven chapters! Or, as St. James puts it: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (1:27). Liberal churches tend to stress the one, and conservatives one the other, but the Lord would have us do both!

    Antinomianism appeals particularly to the Lutheran flesh. But it cannot claim the great Reformer as patron. On the contrary, he writes:

    “That is what my Antinomians, too, are doing today, who are preaching beautifully and (as I cannot but think) with real sincerity about Christ’s grace, about the forgiveness of sin and whatever else can be said about the doctrine of redemption. But they flee s if t were the very devil the consequence that they should tell the people about the third article, of sanctification, that is, of new life in Christ. They think one should not frighten or trouble the people, but rather always preach comfortingly about grace and the forgiveness of sins in Christ, and under no circumstance use these or similar words, “Listen! You want to be a Christian and at the same time remain an adulterer, a whoremonger, a drunken swine, arrogant, covetous, a usurer, envious, vindictive, malicious, etc.!” Instead they say, “Listen! Though you are an adultery, a wordmonger, a miser, or other kind of sinner, if you but believe, you are saved, and you need not fear the law. Christ has fulfilled it all! . . . They may be fine Easter preachers, but they are very poor Pentecost preachers, for they do not preach… “about the sanctification by the Holy Spirit,” but solely about the redemption of Jesus Christ, although Christ (whom they extol so highly, and rightly so) is Christ, that is, He has purchased redemption from sin and death so that the Holy Spirit might transform us out of the old Adam into new men . . . Christ did not earn only gratia, grace, for us, but also donum, “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” so that we might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin. Now he who does not abstain fro sin, but persists in his evil life, must have a different Christ, that of the Antinomians; the real Christ is not there, even if all the angels would cry, “Christ! Christ!” He must be damned with this, his new Christ (On the Council and the Church, Luther’s Works, 41:113-114).

    Where are the “practical and clear sermons,” which according to the Apology “hold an audience” (XXIV, 50, p. 267). Apology XV, 42-44 (p. 229) explains:

    “The chief worship of God is to preach the Gospel…in our churches all the sermons deal with topics like these: repentance, fear of God, faith in Christ, the righteousness of faith, prayer . . . the cross, respect for the magistrates and all civil orders, the distinction between the kingdom of Christ (the spiritual kingdom) and political affairs, marriage, the education and instruction of children, chastity, and all the works of love.”

    “Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, unto Thy Church Thy Holy Spirit, and the wisdom which cometh down from above, that Thy Word, as becometh it, may not be bound, but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that I steadfast faith we may serve Thee, and in the confession of Thy Name abide unto the end: through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.”

    Kurt Marquart

    Concordia Theological Quarterly

    July/October 2003
    Pages 379-381

  • Abby

    Yesterday I watched the live-streaming Gospel Coalition Conference. During the segment entitled, “Redefining Work,” Tim Keller spent a lot of time explaining Luther’s doctrine of vocation. He said the “Lutherans (Luther) have this right.” He described how a “milk-maid” is called by God to do her job. He said the people who do the simplest work are the fingers (masks) of God. And he said “Be the best at what you do,” and “Faith is our moral compass.”

    I was waiting and hoping for him to give a plug to Dr. Veith on vocation (maybe his book), but no such luck. But he is getting it out there in the Reformed circles. He also did advocate for the Reformed “change the world” view as well. Which maybe we should look at and incorporate where possible. (Which probably automatically happens when one is doing their best where they are.)

  • Gene Veith

    Hey, Abby, I’m glad to hear that about Tim Keller. He must have been drawing from my work on the subject, since the figure of the milk maid and the “masks of God” comes from me, and I’m not aware of any other current writers on vocation who talk about them (unless he was reading Luther or Wingren, and if he did that was probably from my influence also). You can’t footnote in a speech, so I’m not bothered at all that he didn’t mention my book. I’m just glad that he “gets” vocation. And says that the Lutherans are right! That’s a great concession from an important and very influential Reformed teacher!

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    I love it when preachers talk about all that we ought be doing in sanctification (as if the Spirit of God isn’t already, hasn’t already, sanctified us) and then they just blithely refuse to do themselves what they are preaching at you to do.

    They might as well be Southern Baptists or Catholics.

    “Christ is the end of the law…” (Some of us Lutherans actually believe that)

  • Gene Veith

    Thanks, Paul! I’m glad to read Kurt Marquart on vocation. As he too so clearly shows, vocation–ignored both by the antinomians and by the salvation-by-good-works crowd–is the key to how the Christian life works in practice.

  • Abby

    Dr. Veith @6 I’ll bet he did read your book! It is great when our best “heads” get together! More and more, hopefully.

  • Steve Bauer

    Both your comments about vocation and Dr. Marqart’s words are very helpful in setting forth the Lutheran teaching on the Christian life, Dr. Veith. I don’t think Mr. Sacramone is so much saying that Lutheran theology has not adequately dealt with this area of the faith (Wingren and Koberle are excellent examples of this) but rather that the lay people don’t know this teaching because Lutheran pastors have been, how should we say it, less than forthright in proclaiming it and some are even somewhat hostile to it, as Dr. Marquart noted.

  • larry

    “I wonder if the problem is the ordinariness of the good works that take place in vocation.”

    That is spot on the money and it is in combination with not having a true “for you” that comes all the way down to you in particular in your “gospel”. You cannot possibly have faith if you do not know you are forgiven because they are one and the same. Chemnitz points out concerning Judas that even though he repented he was damned, but why? Because he did not believe that God was forgiving and gracious to him. He did not have or lost the “for him” in particular, thus was driven to death and hell.

    It’s actually very simple especially for those of us that actually walked in our shoes the miles in evangelicalism. One has to have something that says, “How I know I am saved”, otherwise, honestly, obviously, what are you talking about if you cannot answer that? When the “pro me” is removed by no absolution, no sacrament(s) and a doctrine that can sufficiently “rub out” John 3:16, after all not all are saved, then what are left with? Its very simple. You are left with the realm of works, which is the realm of sanctification (rightly or wrongly understood). Ordinariness of good works won’t suffice as to knowing “I’m saved”. Why not? Because even a rank atheist can do them. Besides if for example one grew up very moral and up right, very conservative like I did “what’s the grand improvement”? If one’s good works (alone) is how one knows one is “pro me’d” with God and you led a Saul pre-Paul life, what’s the improvement? Sure if one was a prostitute or tax collector before hand, there’s loads of outward improvement that can be made, but if one was a Saul and had that fortitude…how does one add to that (this is what Luther saw concerning himself and his fortitude compared to others). So sans a “pro me” one has to have works and the realm of sanctification to know am I saved/elect (Calvin, et. al.) or still keeping it going (Wesley, et. al.) and those works need, must be spectacular, “holy” and way, way, way above ordinary. Most life long Lutherans are utterly blind to this and why cannot see the similarity between the two synergistic theologies of Calvin and Arminius and think that “Bondage of the Will” is the same as “Total Depravity”. Because even though they can read the theologies, they don’t actually know how they work on the ground where rubber meets road.

    How do you know God is “pro me”? In the absence of absolution, sacraments and a John 3:16 does not mean all, all one is left with is their sanctification and the realm of “good works”. Thus, these good works in order for them to rise above the atheist that does them or some pre-conversion very moral life must be of a holy spectacular kind. Changing the baby’s diaper simply will not do, you must be doing churchy works and of the highest sacrificial kind. Marriage is frowned upon as are children because that would hinder the very holy churchy work of doing evangelism or missions. Keeping the household up and other squatty little works are simply not holy enough to be sanctification in the works, anybody can do that, so you need to be doing some church work. Teaching your kids is not enough, clothing them is not enough, feeding them is not enough, doing your day job for dollars is not enough, you need to either be in the church yard or the mission field. And if you can die doing it, well then you’ve really some sanctification and SURELY you are saved.

    And that’s the way it works, that’s why the “the problem is the ordinariness of the good works that take place in vocation”.

    Third use of the law problem. What is it? Very simple as it follows on all the above. It’s why I said very accurately that most life long Lutherans, especially a lot of theologians, are blind to this. Simply put such Lutherans do not well teach their own third use of the Law but end up inadvertently teaching all the above. How so and why? They don’t see, especially with the Calvinistic clan, the difference and they say, “Yes we have that too” as if it’s the same thing. They forget, in Calvinism you don’t have pro me anywhere, no (real) sacraments, etc… It’s the same blindness some of them have in thinking Bondage of the Will is the Lutheran term for the Calvinist Total Depravity and vice versa. They forget Luther’s dictum that doctrine is a whole of which if you damage one piece you’ve ruined the whole entirely. So they think they can glean Reformed bones for what they think is Lutheran meat and simply spit out the Reformed bones (the very opposite of what Luther said concerning doctrine). Add to that that most American ideas of “third use of the Law” are little more than Victorian table manners and you get reproduced de facto Lutheran labeled but in reality evangelical/reformedish “sanctification” all over again. It’s not sufficient to go with the label “third use” for a principle or doctrine, true or false, can be in play under any label or simply implicit.

    This is a great tragedy because the real third use of the Law, the real Lutheran third use, is a wonderful compliment to the Gospel and it (should) steer one EXACTLY away from Reformed/Evangelical/Baptist/Methodist/Roman “sanctification” and “good works”. How? Because it doe the very opposite of this sentence, “the problem is the ordinariness of the good works that take place in vocation”. Because it throws it back in their face. It says, “We have the pro me, firm and immovable, (e.g. I am baptized, take eat/drink…for you) point number 1. And point number 2, by the way all those ordinary works IN vocation, THOSE are the good works. Yes indeed the angels in heaven do hand stands over the father changing the babies diaper, the keeping of the household, the day job that works economy and commerce…ect…”. In fact if you are in the church yard when you should be mowing the grass, you are working for the devil and that’s not hyperbole. THAT third use is the broad sword against the false “good works” and “false sanctifications” out there that say, “Oh no, only the church yard is holy enough to be good works and sanctification”.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    I think many pastors and preachers know that they can harm their congregations immensely by letting the fox (of the law) back into the henhouse where there flock is concerned.

    Many preachers actually believe it when Jesus said, “It is finished”…and when Paul said, “…you were sanctified…:”

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    This one of the best mp3 audios that I have heard on the topic of sanctification:

    http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/sanctification-vis-a-vie-the-theology-of-the-cross.mp3

    It’s not too long.

  • http://www.princetonlutherans.com longhorn

    The ELS convention essay in 2012 was an excellent, thorough treatment of this subject by ELS Vice President, the Rev. Glenn Obenberger of Parkland Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Wash. We just spent a number of weeks going through this in our Bible Class (40 pages of 8 1/2 X 11 paper). If you contact the church (information at http://www.parklandlutheran.org), they could get you a copy. The essay was titled “Created in Christ Jesus For Good Works.” He is helping to host the Emmaus Conference, a free conference currently being held (April 11-12), at which ELS President John Moldstad, WELS President Mark Schroeder and LCMS President Matthew Harrison are speaking.

  • Abby

    Larry @11 All I can say is, wow. This could prevent a lot of burnout — both pastors, and over-committed laypeople who are confused about their salvation/justification/sanctification. How are pastors not understanding this? And congregations need serious education in this regard.

  • Steve Bauer

    What I am talking about is that there is a difference between letting the fox in the henhouse and providing the hens with the optimal conditions for laying eggs.

  • larry

    Yep Abby and that’s why there’s such confusion in Lutheran circles. You cannot “preach” Lutheran third use in the absence of the sacraments, absolution, i.e. the pro me. It’s simply not possible. Similarly you cannot say Bondage of the Will in line with Total Depravity ala Calvin. Its utter nonsense to say so because you’ve not really extinguished the will in Calvin.

    The whole Arminian Vs. Calvinism “war” is literally an endless debate and love affair with the will, then there’s Lutheranism. The problem with Calvinist/calvinism I’ve observed and experienced is that they really like the human will too, they just pretend they don’t. They fundamentally end up in the same ship wreck that the Arminians do concerning assurance and the same two groups appear: those among that think they are pulling it off, those despairing knowing they are not.

    They, the Calvinist, really don’t grasp Luther’s Bondage of the Will even though they think they love it and it’s the Lutheran name for “Total Depravity”. Bondage of the Will really is not just against “arminianism” as it is oft championed and ballyhooed by the Calvinist, but Calvinism too. For the VERY SAME Luther CLEARLY has in mind the sacraments in BOW, the place Calvinist would never go and thus BOW is not for their theology but against it. Just because Marburg was late does not mean Luther lost sense of the sacraments at all. The Calvinism just pushes the will and it’s power, “post conversion” and call it “by the power of the Holy Spirit and then label all that “third use”, “sanctification” and etc…. In this way they can say, “See we are not Arminians or synergist”.

    However, the best way to end and reveal that crypto-synergism is to say, “God’s never interested in your will at all or in the first place. He creates faith not a holy Spirit (“reborn”) energized will. This was Luther’s ENTIRE point about the will always being bound either by the devil or God riding it, it is never ever free or “energized” later by holy power as it were. And Luther’s ENTIRE point about faith ALWAYS doing good works it cannot be prevented from doing so period. If reborn by God then it’s then led by faith, if then by faith, then by the Word and sacraments, then by the Word and (real) sacraments, then without exception the “for you” actually given is how God “rides” the will in Luther’s language. There’s never actually a will freed, holy freed, or Holy Spirit empowered (free) will EVER or some such before or after conversion.

    The only difference in Arminianism and Calvinism is when the will is enabled, pre- or post-conversion, and then if the later (Calvin, et. al.) then it gets the label of “by the Holy Spirit” and “rebirth” and one thinks one is getting away from synergism. However that’s really the Pharisee’s theological prayer of “I thank you God…” fronting the theology with credits to God. It’s a subtle trick for synergism.

    Thus, when you see Lutherans equate BOW with TD, you can see why such Lutherans confound the third use of the Law, they’ve imported Calvin.

    However, the third use of the Law is still about killing the old man, it just tends to more kill the elder brother “pious” very morally religious old man. How? It says baby diaper changing, all those ole not too spectacular and not holy enough and not in the church yard “works” called “holy” and “good”, are the actual good works. But note well it takes the existing utter and absolute and extremely bold faith that says, “I am baptized…therefore shut up pious white devil” to do as Paul exhorted one to do. What’s that? Namely all those beggarly looking mundane lovings of the neighbor for real.

    Thus, the Law, first, second or third use is ALWAYS about killing. But note how the third use kills. It kills by boldly asserting the assured for you. That’s the ONLY way a person awakened to religion in general can say in the face of a fine looking work in the church yard, “that’s the work of the devil”, I shall plant my garden and cook food for my children and as an auto mechanic fix cars for my neighbor. It’s the old man that thinks he lives by works, especially pious works for he has no faith Christ alone and completely ALONE.

    That’s why Luther WELL recognized and often recommended turning on the pious and more dangerous white devil. If the devil says don’t eat or drink, then you eat or drink. Something the church yard holy works will NEVER allow for and damn few preachers recognize this work of the devil. False third use preachers will NEVER show this side of Luther. And that’s how you can tell they are false. They only foist forward half of Luther.

    The curb use stops and kills gross outward evil by threats and rewards here and now, even among the heathen. The theological use crucifies and kills the false and dirty conscience that does outward good but inwardly is dead men’s bones. The third use slays the old Adam sneaking in the back post conversion Christian door.

    Because the reality is that Scripture explicitly says Christ is our sanctification. The faithed one, pro me, lives out the sanctified life IN Christ, not outside of Him. Without the pro me, one is outside of Christ. Thus, being sanctifiED is not a process but a living IN Christ. Paul makes this crystal clear. Paul’s call to do good works is a call to live IN Christ, not achieve Him or assure one, you have that with the sacraments and the Gospel already. But it is a call for the new man to do the REAL neighbor loving good works that are as Paul explicitly states ALREADY laying there. You don’t have to DO good works, they are ALREADY there in the masks and vocations of neighbors.

    It’s like a foreigner having been made and given the gift of citizenship. He’s already a citizen, sanctified already, no process left and his papers (like the sacraments) assure him of this boldly. He just needs to continually realize it and learn THAT FACT, and thus no need to return to the vomit of the old false pious works OR gross sins. Paul’s call to good works is a “why are you still eating old heave…behold the feast”.

    Put another way, in the third use, the new faithed man is NOT being sanctified, rather the old man is being put to death. And put to death means not just ill and gross sin, but even more pointedly the pious stuff, those holy and high works that turn their noses down at the baby diaper changers.

    Thus, faith can BOLDLY say that when the car is needing washed but you are at the church yard…you are doing the work of the devil. And the third use is the death law for that as much as it is for gross sins. Once one understands that then James’s letter is easy to understand.

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

    Wesley was no stronger on sanctification than Luther or even Calvin. He was strong on flirting with legalism. Both Luther and Calvin preached about good works as well as the gospel. But Wesley made good works contingent to salvation, which the first two did not (Yes, even Calvin did not do this, if you correctly read him).

    The irony is that most of what is today called Wesleyan Arminianism isn’t even that; it’s semi-Pelagianism.

  • SKPeterson

    I’ve always thought that Arminianism was semi-Pelagianism.

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  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    The optimal condition for laying eggs is the gospel…not the law.

    The law can FORCE people into doing. But it cannot change the heart.

    Putting the law on people’s brains (to make them better egg layers) will only create despair…or pride.

    “Sanctification is forgetting about yourself.” – Forde

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    “Sanctification is forgetting about yourself.” – Forde

    Is that something the Christian must do?

    +Nathan

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  • Abby

    @15 Yesterday I mentioned “burnout” — which Tullian T. describes as being “addicted to the Law.” Inadvertently this happens, even in the church — if “behavior” becomes the driving force. I think this fits very nicely with the Doctrine of Vocation. I don’t believe Pastor Tullian is advocating any “lawlessness.”

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2013/04/12/confessions-of-a-performancist/

  • Katie

    Dr. Veith, I just wanted to thank you for all of your work in helping to recover the doctrine of vocation. For me, it has just been so refreshing, relieving and eye-opening (or I supposed I could say, “revealing”, if I wanted to continue the alliteration). Right now, I am reading Dr Korcok’s book, Lutheran Education: From Wittenberg to the Future. As I read it, I feel almost silly that I didn’t cognitively connect the importance and influence of vocation on Classical Lutheran education; it just makes so much sense! :) So color me giddy with excitement all over again, in a new way, with the doctrine of vocation. God has certainly worked through you to shed light on His doctrine of vocation. So I thank Him, but I also thank you!

  • Steve Bauer

    @20

    You do not seem to be grasping the point. We are not talking about preaching the Law. We are talking about preaching the Gospel. The question is ‘Does not preaching the Gospel include revivicare, resurrection, new creation and how do we best proclaim that part of the Gospel?’ Of course the Christ pro me predominates but there is also the Christ in me. Is any mention whatever of the new life in Christ a return to the Law?

    “In these last times it is certainly no less needful to encourage people to Christian discipline to the way of right and godly living and to do good works. We need to remind them of how necessary it is that they exercise themselves in good works as a declaration of their faith (Matt. 5:16) and gratitude to God (Heb. 13:15-16). But works should not be mingled in the article of justification.”

    (Formula of Concord, Epitome, IV, 18)

    You seem to think I am advocating “mingling works in the article of justification”. I am not. I’m saying you are leaving a vital element out of the feed if you are only feeding the article of justification to the hens and leaving it at that.

  • FWS

    I was banned from Sacramone´s site a while back.
    He is missing the Law and Gospel distinction that is the entire point and distinction of Lutheranism in their radical focus on Christ Alone.

    This is what I would have written to him. See if you can see the Law – Gospel distinction:

    Anthony, I would direct you to a distinction made in the Formula of Concord art II on “Free Will”

    There Chemnitz lists a battery of quotes from the earlier confessions concluding that we cannot cooperate in even the smallest way in our Conversion, enlightenment… or our sanctification or preservation in the faith.
    These things are all done, alone, by the Holy Spirit, alone , by the Worded Water of Holy Baptism.
    In Baptism God restores us to the very Image of God and Original Righeousness, instantaneously , by creation of a New Man.
    But then this: The Old Adam still clings to the Believer! So also this:

    We MUST cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our daily life of repentence.
    We cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our death this says.
    We cooperate in our Mortification of Old Adam. Mortification is latinate for “deathing”.
    The Lutheran Confessions call this daily deathing a “life of daily repentence”.
    Luther tells us in the Large Catechism, where he says that Baptism is nothing other than Repentence.
    In that life we practice “contrition”. Contrition is latinate for “to grind down”. We grind down our Old Adam.
    Thus Luther: “Earthly Life IS mortification.”
    This Life of Mortification is where Christians take up the Law and kill themselves, literally, doing it.
    It is what Baptismal Life “signifies” or signals, Luther says in his Small Catechism on Baptism.
    For their neighbor. Not for God. God doesn´t need those Good Works. Our Neighor does!
    Vocation!

    So Good Works for a believer do , in fact, look absolutely identical to the vocation and life of any pagan.
    All Old Adams are being mortified and contritioned by the Holy Spirit, by the Law, in order for the fruit of the Law in the form of Good Works to happen.
    If there is a way to distinguish the life of a believer ,then, it would be that “rinse and repeat” showing up in church thing then! But even then, there are, of course, hypocrites, even in church.

    So for Lutherans, Good Works are not about working on our sanctification. That would be to make Good Works about Life. The are instead about our earthly life. Our earthly life is all, and alone: death. This is the distinction St Paul makes in Romans 8 between flesh-body and Spirit. This Romans 8 distinction is not the movement from Vice to Virtue. It is the movement from Virtue to, alone, being hidden inside the Virtue of Another. Alone. Virtue=death this says. Reason cannot know this being veiled by the Veil of Moses, which is the opinion of Reason that virtue is not only something God demands (which he does!) but also is something “spiritual” and not, alone, about death.

    That Romans 8 Life happens, alone, by hearing the Gospel. Rinse. Repeat.
    Life cannot happen by doing virtue until it becomes a habit. Not even with HS assistance.
    This philosophical righeousness requires no Christ, No Holy Spirit and no Bible.
    On earth Good Works are the fruit of the Law. That is to say they are the fruit of our death.
    And the Divine Law is written in the Reason of ALL men. Romans 2:15.

    Catholics say that the Aristotelian acquisition of Virtue by practicing virtue until it becomes a habit is meritorious preparation for Grace. Evangelicals tell us that this same Practice of Virtue until it becomes a habit is a result of Grace and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. And they call this “sanctification.”
    Again: No Christ, No Holy Spirit and no Bible are necessary for this.
    The Romans 2:15 Divine Law will work this in the hearts of ALL men. It will accuse them till they do it.

    Lutherans are directed to make their life about showing up in church, and then working on their mortification in order to do perishable service to neighbor. They practice mortification (the Aristotelian self-virtues) not as its own reward , as in “Virtue is it´s own reward”. No. Virtue is all about death. We practice the sel-discipline that is mortification (latinate for deathing), along with contrition (latinate for “to grind down”), only and alone, in order to force their Old Adam flesh to be useful to serve the creaturely Romans 8 perishing goodness and mercy that are Good Works. We literally kill ourselves doing Goodness and Mercy.

    The life of a believer is all about mortification.

    And our Lutheran Confessions tells us that it is right in the middle of this life of mortification and a terrified conscience that faith is strengthened and grows!

    How can that be?

    The Life of a believer is ALL hidden in the Works of Another.

    The Believers life is all death.

    The believer´s Life , and so also, entirely, his sancitification (latinate for “being made holy”), is the fact that his Life and also his life, are all hidden , completely, in the Life that is Christ. And this faith comes, alone, when we do the rinse and repeat of going to Church and hearing the unconditional Gospel that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died … FOR ME!”

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    I saw you have a post up at Strange Herring to. Banned no more?

    “So Good Works for a believer do , in fact, look absolutely identical to the vocation and life of any pagan.”

    Would you be so kind to explain to me again how the works of the pagan look identical to the Christian fulfilling the first table of the commandments?

    Thank you Frank.

    +Nathan

  • FWS

    Nathan:

    Good to hear about being unbanned.
    As to your question:

    We can keep that first commandment , alone, by true fear, love and trust in God (Small Catechism).
    Fear , love and trust are , alone, faith. That always what the Confessions mean with that trifecta.

    Faith is not something that is sense-ible.
    Good Works that are about thought, word and deed and motive are sensible.
    We can therefore, alone, distinguish men according to their Works.

    ALL men must do Good Works. God demands Good Works of ALL men. He makes all Good Works happen.
    God WILL make those happen in ALL Old Adams with his Divine Law written in Reason by working condemnation in their hearts . Romans 2:15.

    The difference between the doers of Good Works , believer vs pagan, is, not at all, in the Good Works done.
    Fruits of the Spirit and Works of the Law are intrinsically identical. Motive does not make them different.
    The difference is , alone, is that the believer´s Good Works are hidden, completely, in the Good Works of Another.
    Faith, alone, is the difference.

    This is why Christ forbids us to try to separate wheat from tares, sheep from goats, or do soil analysis or fruit inspection. It cannot be done. So we will end up uprooting wheat as we tear out the tares.

  • FWS

    steve @ 24

    you do seem to be mingling law with gospel steve.
    I would urge you to read the distinctions made in art V of the Formula. Especially the distinction between Gospel and Repentence in the broad and narrow sense.

    Then I would urge you to read the distinction in the Formula art II:
    Christians cannot cooperate with the HS in their Sanctification or preservation in any way.
    Christians MUST cooperate with the HS in their daily life of repentence.

    A daily life of repentence is simply to practice contrition (grinding down) and mortification (deathing).

    Steve:
    OUR part of the believers life is to work on our death to force our Old Adam to do Good Works for our neighbor. Good Works are all about our death!
    GOD´S part of the believer´s life happens, alone, in our going to Church and hearing a sermon.
    In that part of the Believer´s life, good works simply happen “as light from sun, spontaneously, automatically, as the angels do them” (FC art VI). This is because going to church creates faith. Faith results in sanctification. Then the SAME Good Works that are worked out of the flesh, also now happen with NO effort, reminder , exhortation or encouragement needed, out of the New Man.

    We are 100% old adam. OUR life´s work is make him do Good Works by preaching the Law to him.
    We are 100% New Man. GOD´s Work in our Life is to Sanctify us so that Good Works spring from him as “light from sun”.

    Therefore this is true:
    WHENEVER we hear the Law preached, in the indicative or imperative sense, as exhortation, encouragement, reminder, etc, it is a preachment to….. the Old Adam!
    Our New Man has NO NEED for such preachment or reminders or coaching.

    The Believer is both 100% old adam and 100% new man.
    ALL that is sense-ible to us is that 100% Old Adam.
    Old Adam is ALL that we are able to know by our Reason, thought, word or deed or emotions.
    Formula of Concord art I!
    The existence of the New Man is , alone, a pure article of … faith alone!

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    So when you say “pagan” you actually have in mind the more limited set of pagans who, though unbelievers, attend Christian churches.

    Do I have you?

    +Nathan

  • Gene Veith

    Thanks, Katie! People assume they know what vocation is, but when they delve into what it entails, they, as you say, can get “giddy”!

  • Steve Bauer

    If I am mixing Law and Gospel then so is the quote from the Formula of Concord that I posted. If you are concerned that I am saying we cooperate with the Holy Spirit viz. sanctification in the sense that we contribute anything to the instigation, desire, power, or worth of the good works we do, that is not what I believe nor am I saying that. “The love of Christ compells us.” All those aspects of sanctification are donum, pure gift. What I am saying is that the New Testament tells the believer to let what is given flow out to the neighbor, to do them. In that sense I cooperate with the Holy Spirit, like a horse cooperates with its rider, or like a bride cooperates with her Bridegroom as one flesh. The cooperation is imperfect, it needs mortification since my flesh continues to inhere in it and distort it, it needs a return to repentence and renewal, when all is said and done, Chrisitians can only say, “‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” It is nonetheless part of the new me that will be completed and revealed on the Last Day.

    So Paul in Ephesians 4 talks about mortification and resurrection, putting off the old nature and putting on the new nature, which all is faith in Jesus Christ alone. BUT he does not end there. He now preaches to the new Adam.

    ” Therefore, laying aside falsehood, soek truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, andD yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

    These words are no longer on the level of commands to the sinner to show him or her that he or she is dead in trespasses and sins but rather the creative word of Genesis 1, “Let there be” and “there was” that forms the believer outwardly into the image of God (yes, incompletely, tentatively, add whatever qualifiers you want) that he or she is inwardly (completely, fully, perfectly) in the mystical union with Christ through faith alone.

  • Steve Bauer

    I forgot my conclusion.

    1) Proclaiming the Gospel means first and foremost proclaiming the creative word of justification by divine grace given in the death and resurrection of Jesus through faith. Though I remain a poor, misreable, sinner, I am also a forgiven child of God, righteous, and completely sanctified on account of who Jesus Christ alone is and what He has already done for me (extra me, pro me).
    2) Proclaiming the Gospel also means proclaiming the creative word by which the Holy Spirit begins the work forming me outwardly into who I already am inwardly.

    This who series of discussion is about how Lutherans excel at 1) but balk at how exactly to go at 2).

  • fws

    Steve Bauer @ 32

    that was very helpful Steve.

    Proclaiming the Gospel also means proclaiming the creative word by which the Holy Spirit begins the work forming me outwardly into who I already am inwardly

    there is your error. God does not reform you “outwardly” as he does inwardly with the Gospel.
    Inwardly you ARE sanctified. It is not a process of re-formation. It is a new birth of an entirely new man.
    outwardly? He kills you. And all your good works are the fruit of the Law mortifying your outward self, your flesh.

    inward new man, new man. Sanctification.
    all that is outward and is sense-ible? Old Adam. Mortification.

    this is law and gospel distinction applied to the believer, who is 100% saint, and 100% sinner.
    at the same time.

  • fws

    Steve @ 31

    In that sense I cooperate with the Holy Spirit, like a horse cooperates with its rider, or like a bride cooperates with her Bridegroom as one flesh

    the Formula, art 2, solid declaration rejects this very idea in so many words! I am getting on a plane so can’t provide the exact reference. See http://www.bookofconcord.org

    of course we can all quote scripture and confessions and get it wrong can’t we.

    art 2 , fc, SD:

    we can’t cooperate in any way at all with the HS in our conversion , sanctification or preservation.
    we must cooperate with the HS in our daily life of mortification.

    that is what it says Steve.

  • fws

    Nathan @ 29

    your old Adam is you as 100% pagan.

  • larry

    “So for Lutherans, Good Works are not about working on our sanctification. That would be to make Good Works about Life.”

    “Catholics say that the Aristotelian acquisition of Virtue by practicing virtue until it becomes a habit is meritorious preparation for Grace. Evangelicals tell us that this same Practice of Virtue until it becomes a habit is a result of Grace and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. And they call this “sanctification.””

    Frank,

    A couple of very nice clarifying ‘if it had been a snake it would have bit me” there! That first one, “…Good Works are not about working on our sanctification. That would be to make Good Works about Life” is so OBVIOUS when pointed out. One really has to keep life and death high in the mind when parsing all this out. I mean its as critical as Law / Gospel – death / life. That is so very clear, thus, if good works are really about sanctification (which we know to be about life) then it’s a simple math problem, good works are about life. And we KNOW that’s not true. If sanctification is life and good works = sanctification, then good works = life. Bam!

    That’s much different than good works = mortification, and mortification = death(ing), ergo good works = death.

    Then Rome makes sanctification = good works = life a preparation, and evangelicals do indeed say good works as a habit built is a result of grace fruit of the Spirit called sanctification. That means sanctification = good works = life post conversion. Then evangelicals of Wesleyan strain simply make this sanctification = good works that which is all about life being sustained, and evangelicals of the Calvinist strain make this sanctification = good works the assured proof of life. To reveal the problem one need only replace the variable “sanctification” with its equal (life) and you have in all these life = good works.

    Which all of this is quite natural if one denies the real means of grace spoken by God, the absolution, the sacraments, then all one IS left with that touches the particular personal enfleshed for and to me is works, where can I know life IS. One can make that directly contingent as did Wesley, or as the indirect proof as did Calvin.

    Which brings us to Law and Gospel. You cannot actually parse out true Gospel from Law if you cannot add to it the pro me. I.e. Calvinist will of necessity ALWAYS confuse Law and Gospel because they cannot ever say in particular it is “for you” meaning a particular “you” and not a generic general in the crowd somewhere unidentified “you”. The “good news” is just always unattached news, its never “do” words as Luther says of God’s Words. Thus when baptized even as an infant under Calvinism its not really good news, because the reality was not given only the sign devoid of the reality. You have to get to the reality by some other de facto “means of grace” and there’s where works kick in. Same thing with the Lord’s Supper. For the reality is not Rome, not Wesley and not Calvin would say anything less than saved by grace by Christ alone. But due to the “pro me” problem they are forced, Rome, Wesley or Calvin to hide works hide under sanctification whereby sanctification keeps half its real definition (it is life) but half does not belong to it (good works). Mingling half of the truth (sanctification is life) with half the false part (sanctification working of good works) therein lay a very, very, VERY subtle and nearly unperceivable confusion of Law and Gospel.

    That might be the devil’s most deft trick ever! VERY crafty indeed!!!

  • larry

    Frank,

    That might be the clearest way I’ve ever heard that stated: ““So for Lutherans, Good Works are not about working on our sanctification. That would be to make Good Works about Life.”

    And that brings law, first, second or third use all and always about death or deathing. It always kills.

  • Abby

    But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (Titus 3:4-8 ESV)

  • FWS

    nathan @ 29

    I am going to just retract my usage of the word pagan. it is not the form of sound doctrine used in any of our confessions.

    I will say this instead:
    The believer is 100% old adam and also 100% new man in Christ.
    Old Adam is totally lacking in faith and is totally full of sin. Just as is any pagan Nathan.
    Formula of Concord art I describes who we are, 100% , as Old Adam.

  • larry

    Good verse Abby. The part evangelicals miss besides the fact its speaking of baptism is where Paul says “I want you to INSIST on these things…”. Then the “so…”. Not only is baptism missed but the good works inverted. Which brings up a point. The devils most often employed trick is not to evade scripture but invert it. That way salvation comes after or the dependent clause on works either overtly or implied. Basically a if then religion rather than a because so religion.

    Frank that excellent point about good works is great. You always here all this huffing and puffing under sanctification meaning good works of being Christ like or Christ in me. But what greater picture is there in rather good works being swathing; ie no gain and allow loss to one in good works – mortification

  • larry

    Oy! Kindles and auto correct and I just don’t get along. …good works – deathing for the neighbor no gain to me. That is a lesser picture of what Christdid for us. Paul’s Titus statement is revealing…its good for the neighbor not to my profit. Hence mortification not sanctification; sanctification is to my benefit. HUGE difference.

  • Abby

    “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

    ” . . . He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:9-14)

    “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:4-6)

    “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10)

  • Abby

    I wonder if “sanctification” is a different thing apart from “fruit” and “good works?” Being that it says we already have it. As opposed to bearing fruit and good works — which are not complete yet.

  • Abby

    Small Catechism’s Explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.”

    Ok. Now people wearing those “Weak on Sanctification” t-shirts are saying something really stupid to the Holy Spirit! They better rethink that and throw them in the trash!

  • http://discipledave.wordpress.com David Rueter

    Consider the parable of the prodigal son: The restored prodigal was fully restored–including having authority (the ring) to conduct business on behalf of the family.

    No action or attitude on the part of the prodigal brought about that restoration–it all came from the father who restored him.

    What did the restored prodigal do the next day? It is easy to suppose he began living his life as the thankful and restored son, acting in accord with what would please the father and benefit the family. Was this a burden for him? No–but rather a joy.

    THAT is sanctification. It is living out our life as fully restored sons and daughters of our heavenly father in his household, enjoying the feast, being embraced by the father, and even diligently working in accord with our vocations. Is there work on our part? Cooperation? Absolutely. But this is not brute-force exertion of our volition to go against our old nature and desires, but rather embracing and cultivating our new God-given nature and desires. Is this a burden? No, it is a joy.

    The restored prodigal didn’t need to (and wouldn’t have been able to) make restitution to the father. He didn’t need to prove himself to the father, or flog himself for his past. In fact, doing either of these would have been an affront to the full and complete restoration provided by the father.

    Where we go wrong in sanctification isn’t in “not trying” hard enough, but instead it is in continuing to doubt our standing before God as his fully restored child–with full rights, privileges and responsibilities appertaining thereunto. If we understood not only the magnitude of the father’s grace but also the reality of our standing before him we would be less tempted to fall into the trap of seeing sanctification as a burden that rests on our shoulders, and would instead know the freedom that is ours in Christ to live as his fully restored child.

    Sanctification is simply living the new life that our heavenly father graciously restored us to.

  • Matt Jamison

    When I came across this sermon quote from Pr. Mark Buetow, it reminded me very much of Anthony Sacramone’s posts:

    “Let’s face it: there are some out there who think there are others out there who even today, right now, are abusing the Gospel to cover their immoral lifestyles. How we love to tell others that such people exist and claim to be Lutheran! But we would never dare to be true Lutherans and use the Gospel to cover their sins or have the decency to express our concerns privately. Instead, we are a church of Hams, ready to point everyone to naked Noah; a church full of Cains, fuming that some immoral person should dare to claim nothing but the Lamb as their offering; a church of scribes and Pharisees who know nothing about mercy but everything about telling others why someone else doesn’t measure up; a religion of Uzzahs who think they can lightly touch the death-dealing Law as if it’s a mere exercise in willpower to keep it. Run up to Mt. Sinai if you like. But if that scares the crap out of you, don’t worry because there’s a Mt. Calvary and all the sanctification you could ever need or want has already gushed out of Jesus into the font and cup.” – Rev. Mark Buetow

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    FWS,

    I know what you are saying.

    My point is that when you say “So Good Works for a believer do , in fact, look absolutely identical to the vocation and life of any pagan.”

    That is obviously not true. The pagan does not fulfill the first table of the commandments even outwardly.

    As regards our Old Adam, we don’t way he is just a regular unbeliever. The Christian as a whole is a believer, made up of two natures. One is an old Adam, but he is one that is “taken to school” by the new man, who subjects old Adam to the performance of the first table externally. The new man in us, of course, delights in this first table and joyfully fulfills them not just externally, but internally – and happily receives reminders to do so when the believer is spurred on to good works by those around him – the new man joyfully hears “by the mercies of God then, let us….”

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Abby:

    “Ok. Now people wearing those “Weak on Sanctification” t-shirts are saying something really stupid to the Holy Spirit! They better rethink that and throw them in the trash!”

    I agree with this. You might be interested in this discussion I had with Scott Diekmann over this quote from Bill Cwirla:

    “You can only say you’re weak on sanctification if you view sanctification as your work.”

    I know Pastor Cwirla was trying to address that problem as well, but in doing so, I found his saying this problematic as well.

    http://stand-firm.blogspot.com/2012/11/are-lutherans-weak-on-sanctification.html

  • Tom Hering

    The pagan does not fulfill the first table of the commandments even outwardly. (@ 47)

    But then the First Table isn’t about good works as we define them – love and service of neighbor.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Tom,

    “But then the First Table isn’t about good works as we define them – love and service of neighbor.”

    Tom, I know Lutherans say good works are just about our neighbor, but at the same time, think about this: a) they are about our neighbor because we want to *obey* God and b) our neighbor certainly does benefit from seeing others faithfully fulfilling the first table of the law.

    +Nathan

  • Tom Hering

    … our neighbor certainly does benefit from seeing others faithfully fulfilling the first table of the law. (@ 50)

    How? What benefit do you imagine they receive?

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Tom,

    I don’t think I am “imagining” anything. My five children who accompany me to worship certainly benefit when they see others faithfully coming to sit at their Lord’s feet week after week. And they benefit when they see persons not taking God’s name in vain, but rather faithfully praying, praising, proclaiming and singing his Name and deeds. And of course they benefit hearing those very words that they say – words testifying to the One True God who alone is light, love and life.

    Are they always paying attention? No. Might they doubt the sincerity of those around them? Sure – but less so those they know better. When they are paying attention, they will be convicted according to their old man, and encouraged according to their new man.

    +Nathan

  • Matt Jamison

    Nathan,

    Great point! Most of the First Table actions that we do to love God are done in community and set an example for others. Notice the first person plural nature of the Lord’s Prayer. We do works in love for God and love for the neighbor but I don’t think we can ever separate the two and say that anything is done purely out of love for God without regard to the neighbor.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Matt,

    I want to do a blog post on this. Could I use your quote as I have below?:

    “Does God need our good works?”

    Lutherans like to say that our good works are for our neighbor, but there is more to be said here, even if the answer to the above question seems obvious.

    Think about this: what is the fulfillment of the first table of the law (describing the believer’s duties before God), if it is not good works? Yes, the first commandment includes trust in God, which we associate with faith, which we distinguish from the works of the law – but it also includes the fear and love of God. Although our fulfillment of the first table of the law does not benefit God in anyway, it certainly is of benefit to all of God’s people.

    Our good works are about God because we want to obey God. And God desires works not because they are of benefit to Him, but benefit His people. His people benefit from seeing others faithfully fulfilling the first table of the law.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    I evidently forgot to copy some of it:

    “Does God need our good works?”

    Lutherans like to say that our good works are for our neighbor, but there is more to be said here, even if the answer to the above question seems obvious.

    Think about this: what is the fulfillment of the first table of the law (describing the believer’s duties before God), if it is not good works? Yes, the first commandment includes trust in God, which we associate with faith, which we distinguish from the works of the law – but it also includes the fear and love of God. Although our fulfillment of the first table of the law does not benefit God in anyway, it certainly is of benefit to all of God’s people.

    Our good works are about God because we want to obey God. And God desires works not because they are of benefit to Him, but benefit His people. His people benefit from seeing others faithfully fulfilling the first table of the law.

    Let me give an example.

    My five children who accompany me to worship certainly benefit when they see others faithfully coming to sit at their Lord’s feet week after week. And they benefit when they see persons not taking God’s name in vain, but rather faithfully praying, praising, proclaiming and singing his Name and deeds. And of course they benefit hearing those very words that they say – words testifying to the One True God who alone is light, love and life.

    Are they always paying attention? No. Might they doubt the sincerity of those around them? Sure – but less so those they know better. When they are paying attention, they will be convicted according to their old man, and encouraged according to their new man.

    When I said this, someone else added the following wisdom:

    “Notice the first person plural nature of the Lord’s Prayer. We do works in love for God and love for the neighbor but I don’t think we can ever separate the two and say that anything is done purely out of love for God without regard to the neighbor.”

    Or vice versa, I would add. In sum, faith is busy in good works the world does not necessarily see as such, and while we cannot use them to secure our justification, they often place us exactly where we need to be.

  • Tom Hering

    Nathan, well, now you’ve narrowed your argument from benefiting our neighbor to benefiting our fellow believers.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Tom,

    Are you suggesting that what unbelievers ultimately need is different from what believers need? Perhaps you could explain that more.

    +Nathan

  • dust

    Does a little word from the Bible fit into this discussion?

    Matthew 5:16
    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    And there’s more if you need ‘em :)

    cheers!

  • larry

    Abby,

    I think you are missing a critical point. This why most Lutherans today cannot reach the average despairing arminian or Calvinist. First, they don’t as I’ve spelled out above understand a critical aspect that Luther points out about doctrine, that is in fact a whole and that if you alter a point you ruin the whole. Point blank, for example, believers baptism, you deny the gospel is the end product. Second, Luther points this out in his opening to his commentary on Romans that the words must regain their true definitions otherwise the Scriptures are a closed book to anyone. Third, that doctrine is present, true or false, even if the normal words are used alternatively or not.

    Thus, for example Lutherans that think total depravity and BOW are the same thing are ripe for this trap, and they cannot see clearly enough to help out those starving for the gospel in say Calvinist circles because they don’t see clearly enough why this is so. Oh, they can pick up on an armininian a mile a way, but Calvinist can slip right in because its ever oooohhh so close. Rick Warren and Joel Ostean, which a fool can detect are fingered while we rub the necks of say Al Mohler and John Piper, I suppose because they are outwardly more erudite. None the less their poison is deadlier. Sasse makes this point more elegantly.

    Luther was able, because he grasped the doctrine in its naked essence so well, to even turn Rome’s words against them. A good example of this is his response in his HD where he turns Rome’s mortal Vs. venal sin against them in such a fashion that it over threw their false teaching most effectively. The same thing with the “Weak On Sanctification Ts”. That’s aimed at gunning against the damnable Wesleyan/Calvinist sanctification ala crypto works salvation. We see this with Luther a lot heeding Paul’s warning in Galatians where Luther stunningly says that if Judas, the devil Pilate preach the true Gospel, I am to listen to them, and Paul, John and Peter preach another gospel I am not to listen to them. Not many pastors today have the grasp of the Gospel strongly enough to say that and mean it. E.g. the endless debate on the book of James. As if James can over throw Christ. It doesn’t but if it did per se, I wonder how many would fall for it today. A LOT I’m afraid. Same thing with sanctification, etc…

    You see for those who have walked in the hell of those other doctrines they get this because they’ve lived it. They know what it is like for a solid Lutheran Gospel proclaimer to say, “You are forgiven even if you don’t believe it, you don’t get better…”. Because they know the biblical, historical and religious language has had SO MANY glosses attached to them under their doctrinal systems that they have word the Gospel in a way that it BLAST through all that so they can actually hear Christ again. They didn’t loose Christ to the atheist or secular philosophical forces, they lost Christ via “christian” labeled doctrinal confessions, the Baptist, the Methodist, the Calvinist, Rome, etc… You gotta be bold enough to actually SAY that so they’ll hear you and be saved from the hell they are in. If your not bold enough to say that, then you really wasting your time. You gotta take your training wheels off of the Gospel and go ride boldly eventually for those folks sake. But if you are so scared about good works getting done and you are keeping your toe on the training wheels, well then you’ll just be yourself wobbling and shaking and no help to another at all. Those that soooo scared that sanctification and mortification won’t get done if Christ is preached too boldly and feel they need to invert it now and then, really don’t trust the Word of God at all. They feel they’ve got to bring in Aristotle or other fables to help out.

    So there are very few modern Lutherans who can do this well. Why? I don’t know I suppose the answers vary from a weak grasp of the Gospel to a failure of being bold with it, to being scared of being falsely labeled an antinomian (as was Luther and a lot of others). Martin Loyd Jones, not a Lutheran, once got this well and said, “if you have not been accused of being an antinomian, then you’ve likely NEVER proclaimed the Gospel”. He’s right.

    When it comes to good works its like Luther said in the face of similar accusation against himself that he was not trying to stop good works, but rather show you the ONLY place from which they can come.

    Those who think they are growing (sanctification) in good works are the same one’s that are like those in business who are only stepping on the heads and shoulders of those to whom they thrust their “good works” down your throat too to get to the top. Even atheist pick up on that from the religious working their way to the top. And they only show up for the most holy and good kind of works, the reportable ones…they are never around on the day to day mundane times because those don’t make the sanctification news papers. They are always busy and working, but never really doing what they’ve been put in place to do. They like the news worthy works or at least the ones they can indirectly brag about “humbly”.

    The reality is this that most lay Christians are DOING good works if they could just the ethicist off of their backs who think they’ve observed a problem when they read statistic or two about the broader society. Most Christians I know personally, across denominational stripes, are VERY sweet people and hard workers. Most of them are working hard every day at their jobs, feeding and clothing their kids, some sacrificing to home school them, others doing the best they can in their particular situation, most of them helping they brother out when they need it, most of them helping their neighbors.

    You know what the biggest shock for me was coming out of atheism into Christianity? It was probably naïve of me but again I was atheist so I had no point of reference or knowledge of how it was, but that BIGGEST shock was realizing that when all is said and done denying Christ and Him crucified would not be from the secular world but from the “church” world.

  • Abby

    Larry @ 59 ” They know what it is like for a solid Lutheran Gospel proclaimer to say, “You are forgiven even if you don’t believe it, you don’t get better…” I (think) I agree with you, if I’m understanding that correctly.

    When you said I was missing a point? — which did you mean? In this quotation of the 3rd article of the Apostles Creed, I was meaning that sanctification all comes from the Holy Spirit. (I think) that we have really nothing to do with it? It is given, it is ours, we are in it — whether we know it or not. The reference to the t-shirts was meant to say that since sanctification all comes from the Holy Spirit there can be no “weakness” about it! Like I heard a pastor on an Issues etc. program say: “Do you have perfect faith? (People don’t think they do.) Well, you do because faith is given by God and cannot be flawed or partial in any way. It is perfect faith!” So sanctification can’t be “weak” either since it is given by the Holy Spirit.

    Was that they point you were questioning? I hope I helped the understanding of what I meant to say. I don’t always says things right the first time. :)

  • larry

    Abby,

    No you got the point on sanctification perfectly. The T-shirts are not speaking against that, rather the evangelicals VERSION of sanctification. That was the point I was afraid you missed on those T shirts. That’s point of them, to grab the evangelicals (and I suppose pietism in Lutheranism – is it any shock that rebaptizers come basically from Lutheranism!) ear that’s been taught a crypto-works righteousness via sanctification. I.e. if sanctification was understood correctly, then shirts would be null and void. This why some Lutherans miss, especially in Calvinism, Calvin’s and the later Reformed’s hidden works righteousness. It’s not as crass as say John Wesley, but very, very, very craftily hidden under the post conversion sanctification proofs that “I’m (in fact) elected in particular”.

    That’s what I was afraid you missed, but I may have misunderstood. Thanks for clarifying.

  • larry

    A few more points Luther points out, “You must realize that if the Law has to come to you to tell you what to do, you’ve already fallen into mortal sin”.

    The Gospel which is Christ and Him crucified which is the glory and revelation of God the Father is not lost in our day and age due to a lack good works. You need to get away from your key board every a little into the real world and talk to some real people, get out there where sweat and blood really is and away from our electronic gnosis and ask the unbelievers (atheist, secularist, other). They won’t bite, and just ask them what the Christian faith is and 9 times out of 10 they will give you an ethic or moral improvement system answer, ergo X, Y and Z religions can work too. And they didn’t get that from themselves but what they hear more broadly being spoken of those within that which prances around as “Christian”. The so called Christian right and left both are all about morality. No Christ and Him crucified is hidden because of this and because very few actually speak the Gospel anymore, or at least they throw in the small moral print to cover it up.

    I’ve had not too few fairly licentious type persons talking with me become SUDDEN lawyers and legalist when they hear a stark naked Gospel. Proving the old Adam’s real fallen bent is not licentiousness or antinomianism as it has largely been understood in our day and age, but rather quite stark legalist and moralist…eventually, you just have to give them full pure Christ and Him crucified and they lawyer up on you all of a sudden – the heretofore antinomian. At the end of the day the Pharisee and licentious person is ALWAYS trying to JUSTIFY, legally, themselves.

    One can do summary of discussions on boards like this and find very easily that the larger portion of language is always about morals and not Christ and Him crucified. Every body is scared to death the morals won’t get done, few are scared that Christ may fail to get proclaimed. Yet it is the later that happens and not the former. In fact the weight of the discussion is always on morals and all the “pull quotes” are always the good works one’s, out of context and in the use of emphasizes the never ending cheer leading of the old Adam and Eve “come on guys we can do better”.

    E.g. “You are the light of the world…In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” The light is Christ and Him crucified for you, that’s why you are light and not darkness, not because of your deed but because of Christ. Your light is shining, Christ crucified for you, and thus your good deeds are revealed and show “that person is believing something I’m not, what is that, what frees them so much”. E.g. In this way, Luther was asked what he would do if Christ was coming tomorrow…he said plant a tree. You see, he would do the very mundane good deed and THAT peace that allows him to do it as Christ returns is a head scratcher to unbelief that is looking front page headlines good works. “What in the WORLD do you mean ‘plant a tree’ Luther, did you NOT hear what I said, Christ is coming tomorrow!”, screams the enthusiast.

    You see if a man is running out of a building for dear life but says to me, “Nothing’s wrong in the building, go on in”, and he keeps running. I’m not going to believe that at all. The same way with good works, you can say “Christ alone, and justification by faith alone, and not works…”, all day long. But if I pick up on you that by your doing stuff all the time to “please God” and you shun sinners all the time and you all speak of is this and that good thing you do, and church yard works and those evil sinner over there are not doing them; I’m not going to believe you that you REALLY and TRULY believe that Gospel is real at all. Because your actions are speaking louder than your words.

    It’s like Reformed pastor once said back in the 1800s when the tee totaling Methodist came to town, “I hate the taste of whisky, but to protect Gospel, now I’m going to have to drink some.” That was a Luther/Paul moment.

  • Abby

    Larry @62 “I’ve had not too few fairly licentious type persons talking with me become SUDDEN lawyers and legalist when they hear a stark naked Gospel. Proving the old Adam’s real fallen bent is not licentiousness or antinomianism as it has largely been understood in our day and age, but rather quite stark legalist and moralist…eventually, you just have to give them full pure Christ and Him crucified and they lawyer up on you all of a sudden – the heretofore antinomian. At the end of the day the Pharisee and licentious person is ALWAYS trying to JUSTIFY, legally, themselves.”

    “LEGALISM is the DEFAULT MODE of the human heart.” Martin Luther

    I think we are talking on the same page! But you are right, I think I did miss the evangelical version —

    But I have to say — this sanctification business is very confusing. So many different things are said by so many people. I can’t find a place where it is cohesively described.

  • FWS

    Abby @ 63

    Read the Formula of Concord art II , solid declaration, on free will. You should see the following points in this order:

    1) we cannot , in any way, cooperate with the HS in our conversion, enlightenment, sanctification or preservation.
    2) it is, alone, practicing the habit of hearing the Word of God that works ALL of those things.
    3) Natural man, with is free will, with no need for the HS, is fully able to show up in Church and hear a sermon, where , alone, the HS will use Gods Word to work all those things. So we are sanctified by our regularly showing up to receive Word and Sacrament. That is how we increase in Sanctification!
    4) We CAN cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our “daily life of repentence”.
    5) what is repentence?
    6) it is a) mortification of the flesh and b) showing up to hear God´s Word that, alone, raises us in newness of Life in Christ.
    you can read more about repentence in the Large Catechism on Baptism. There you will be told that Repentance and a Daily Life of Repentance is nothing other than Holy Baptism!

    We are saying “sanctification” where we really should be saying “mortification of the flesh”.

    Why?

    What we describe as “sanctification” looks identical to what Aristotle describes as the process of becoming a virtuous person: We practice the self-virtues (self-denial, self-restraint, self-sacrifice, self-reliance) until those virtues become a “habit” or “second nature” . This really is the hard work st paul calls “mortification” (latinate for deathing). It is a) something we must DO, and b) it is something that even pagans all must and can do.

  • Abby

    FWS @64 I have to be Spock here and say, that sounds logical! It also seems to line up with how I thought I have experienced this (sanctification). And so that does make it separate from the deathing/mortification which is what we do cooperate with. (Is that the struggle we are in against the world, the flesh, and the devil?) That makes sense. And is much less confusing. It’s like taking apart two things that got together in a tangled mess. (Separating “works” from “sanctification.”) And I would not have known to look for this answer under free will! And it does say (to me) that to put the word “weak” along with “sanctification” — is ludicrous! It is impossible!

    “Repentance and a Daily Life of Repentance is nothing other than Holy Baptism!” . . . So, how do we *do* this? — “We CAN cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our “daily life of repentence”. Or is even repentance taken off our shoulders since it too is a gift of the Holy Spirit?

    Larry @62 “One can do summary of discussions on boards like this and find very easily that the larger portion of language is always about morals and not Christ and Him crucified. Everybody is scared to death the morals won’t get done, few are scared that Christ may fail to get proclaimed.” And yet, that is what Paul said he was only going to be about! “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ESV)

    (To read these — free will and Baptism –I have to wait until I get to CPH to pick up my Book of Concord. I’ve been wanting one for quite a while.) Thank you!

    It really is good to be Lutheran. We have far less to “worry” about. We should be handing out our “freedom in Christ” testimonies like candy! Instead of walking around like Pilgrim with huge burdens on our backs. (“Pilgrim’s Progress”) Law and Gospel separate. Don’t mingle them. Much easier!

  • Abby

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/04/sanctification-and-vocation/#comment-262072

    Love that quote! Pastors . . .? Can we hear this more often instead of legalism/morality (even from Bible stories) and “do more, try harder?” I think the results will be better. Maybe not “measurable” in your eyes — but better. But maybe “measurable” will show up too!

  • FWS

    abby:

    you are right that many confuse sanctification with the fruit of sanctification, which are good works.

    you might also note that the fruits of sanctification AND the fruits of the Law are … absolutely identical according to FC art VI “Third Use”. Paraphrase: “The difference is not in the works themselves, but is rather in the heart of the one doing the works. Good Works are done out of the Old Adam extorted out of him by the Law. The SAME Good Works happen spontaneously “as light from sun” out of the new man.

    a loaf of bread given to a starving man is a good work and not just a “good work”. and it is the SAME good work irregardless of the motive of the giver of that bread. The difference is that the good works of a christian are all hidden in the Works of Another. The works of a pagan are not. And ALL good works are the moral equivalent of a used tampon according to Isaiah. Isaiah is describing the good works of believers there!

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    “The works of a pagan are not.”

    You keep conflating false Christians and pagans. Its really an unusual use of language, isn’t it? While technically, all unbelievers could be called pagans, usually, when we say this, we are referring to people who do not confess Jesus Christ as Lord or worship Him (before our – not God’s – eyes)

    “And ALL good works are the moral equivalent of a used tampon according to Isaiah.”

    But so long as these good works conform to God’s law, they are pleasing to God on account of Christ’s work. Further, we can grow in our sanctification, and the corrupted old man can lose power in this life, although we will not be totally pure until we reach heaven. As God makes us more aware of our sin, we can consistently repent of it, seek forgiveness, and our new man can incorporate spiritual exercises (things like not only receiving word and sacrament but the ten commandments in our vocations, prayer, fasting, and alms) in order to keep old Adam in check (and yes, old Adam can make those very same spiritual practices exercises in self-justification).

    More here: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/we-sin-in-all-our-good-works-so-what/

    +Nathan

  • fws

    Nathan #68

    it seems that you disagree with my post 67 but I am not really sure which points you disagree on.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    “You keep conflating false Christians and pagans.” That’s the main thing I guess. Glad to hear you don’t think what I say is objectionable. : )

    +Nathan

  • fws

    70 Nathan.

    don’t assume I agree with you Nathan just because I don’t respond.
    reread my previous posts to know what I think of your ideas,dear brother.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    fws,

    Previous posts here? Have you directly addressed my ideas here? I can’t find anything.

    I know we have had our disagreements in the past, but I don’t know if you said anything here specifically that I thought was “off” – and necessarily contradicted me – other than what I pointed out.

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    fws, all,

    I invite you to check out this report I did on a most insightful paper from a recent conference up in MN. about legalism and antinomianism:

    http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/the-saint-sinner-christian-life-driving-out-the-sin-that-remains/

    I think to some degree, it certainly tracks with much of what Frank has been saying. Let me know what you think, either here or there!

    +Nathan

  • fws

    Nathan @73

    “in sum the Christian life is to look something like this”

    the chart is wrong. Fc art IV tells us that there is no difference in the list of virtues and good works worked by the law and old Adam vs those worked by the gospel on the new man.

    the difference is that the same goodness is forced out of old Adam and happens spontaneously out of new man.
    the difference is only that.

    the Romans 8 diff between flesh vs spirit is not the movement then from vice to,virtue. It is the movement from true virtue, to alone, faith, alone, in the virtue of Another that hides our own virtue from the wrath of God.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Hmmm…. I’d say its a movement from false virtue to grace alone.

    “Fc art IV tells us that there is no difference in the list of virtues and good works worked by the law and old Adam vs those worked by the gospel on the new man.”

    If we are focused on what good works look like, this makes sense.

    +Nathan

  • FWS

    nathan @ 75
    Good. you are homing in now on exactly the point of contention.
    It is the ENTIRE believer that is declared holy.
    Why and how? The ENTIRE believer is hidden inside the Good Works of Another.

    The believer REMAINS, 100% so, exactly how FC art I describes him. This does not change, not even slightly, after the new birth Nathan.

    The New Man is , precisely, a NEW man. Not a reformed Old Man. And the Old man remains, 100% as old man, until our physical death.

    Good Works in the Believer are ALL done , by the new man, THROUGH the Old Man. They are all done in the flesh. and so they all are wrought by mortification of the Old Adam. No good works happen apart from the Old Adam. they are all done through him. and therefore ALL good works are fleshly and carnal righteousness.
    They will all perish with the flesh . that IS the point of the contrast between flesh and spirit in romans 8.

    We are 100% sanctified in our New Man. New Man needs no instruction or reminders of the Law. it is as if the Law does not even exist for new man. So whenever we are instructed in the Law, that Law instructs new man to KILL Old Adam. The Law only and always kills and accuses. there is NO Life in any preachment or instruction of the Law. The most potent and deadly form of the Law is when the Gospel is used to illustrate the Law. That is why the preaching of Christ Crucified is the most horrifying Law that exists, as is also the Holy Supper. those two preachments become Gospel, alone, when the HS plants heart trust in the two words “for you”. Faith is not something we can do. Not even as new man is faith something we can do. Not even powered by the HS is faith something we are able to do. FC art I still applies to us in our entirety, body, will, mind, soul, thought, word and deed. EVERYTHING.

  • http://od FWS

    nathan:

    some lutherans have said that pagans only do “good works” and not good works.
    and they define a good work as this:
    a work that conforms to scripture + motive.

    This puts the difference in the work itself. The motive intrinsically changes the work in God´s eyes.
    so then there are “good works ” and really, truly, GOOD works.
    whats the difference? motive. an “attitude of gratitude”, a “gospel response” that “infuses” the work with goodness.
    The difference between pagan and christian then, is in the works done.

    This is false and wrong.
    It is the ENTIRE believer that is seen as blameless in God´s eyes. and ALL our works , apart from our being hidden in the Works of Another are , all, the moral equivalent of a used tampon according to St Isaiah.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    Have you read Luther’s antinomian disputations? (linked to in the post).

    They address your arguments, which are nothing new. You are confusing justification and sanctification.

    “The New Man is , precisely, a NEW man. Not a reformed Old Man. And the Old man remains, 100% as old man, until our physical death. ”

    Right. When it comes to the message we declare to the terrified sinner, this is always it. We don’t cease having sin in us until death (and a little bit affects the whole batch). But that doesn’t carry over into how Luther, or historically, Lutherans, understood sanctification.

    +Nathan

  • FWS

    You are accusing me of confusing justification with sanctification.
    Show me where I have done that Nathan.

    You should consider hesitating to accuse another Lutheran of such a thing until you are really, really certain that that is so….. ;) It does tend to end dialog very abruptly

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    Its not meant to be an accusation. That’s simply the case. As Kolb and Arand point out (K&A, 22), the doctrine of justification was formulated as it was for pastoral reasons. As Luther said, “…Christians do not adequately understand it or grasp it in the midst of their temptations. Therefore it must always be taught and continually exercised.” This is the point of “separating” the two kinds of righteousness!

    When it comes to our standing before God – when it comes to the either/or question of truly being his child or not –we must only look at Christ, grace, and faith (which also is a gift he provides). In the Large Catechism, Luther even states that we are already forgiven prior to receiving it in faith. All of this is in order to safeguard justification for those with a terrified conscience before God, who justifies the wicked via the external righteousness of Jesus Christ given in his Word. Though those God declares righteous (by faith alone) he makes righteous (faith + love), justification and sanctification are rightly kept distinct in our theology. We do not, for example, say [subjective] justification = sanctification. Rather, we say we are reckoned righteous by faith in Christ, grasped in the external word – and not even because of the perfect righteousness of Christ that begins to dwell in our hearts when justified.

    I hope this helps Frank!

    In Christ,
    Nathan

  • fws

    Nathan

    nope. You are not showing what it is I said that confuses justification with sanctification.
    because you can’t.

    until you do that, this conversation is over.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    I do apologize for not giving you a clear example. You say “We are 100% sanctified in our New Man” and to that I would say that belongs to passive sanctification, which is equivalent to justification (that said, we still strictly distinguish when it comes to pastoral practice with terrified sinners, not bringing sanctification into it at all). There is also an active sanctification, which, as Luther tells us, is incomplete. This is the righteousness that grows within a Christian, which I have no interest in pointing to other than the fact that it exists. : ) (because some deny it).

    I apologize for speaking too quickly. Perhaps you would agree with me here on this – I must have been responding to you with the greater context in mind – in your saying the diagram was wrong. I’d be interested in knowing why you think it is wrong.

    +Nathan

  • FWS

    Nathan @ 82

    NATHAN: You say “We are 100% sanctified in our New Man” and to that I would say that belongs to passive sanctification,

    THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS: 42] These testimonies [in paragraphs 29-41 from the Augustana, Apology, Smalcald, and Catechisms!] state that by our own powers, but only by the Holy Spirit… [are we] sanctified … and kept with [Christ]; and no mention is made either of our will or cooperation. http://bookofconcord.org/sd-freewill.php#para42 FC,SD “Free Will”

    NATHAN: which is equivalent to justification (that said, we still strictly distinguish when it comes to pastoral practice with terrified sinners, not bringing sanctification into it at all).

    Show me ONE place, just one, in the Confessions, Pieper, Walter, Luther or Scriptures where Justification ever equals Sanctification in any sense. You won´t find it.

    NATHAN: There is also an active sanctification, which, as Luther tells us, is incomplete. This is the righteousness that grows within a Christian, which I have no interest in pointing to other than the fact that it exists. : ) (because some deny it).

    Show me where “active sanctification” is taught in the Lutheran Confessions or Scripture.
    We do cooperate in our Mortification. I can find many, many references for that.

    NATHAN: I apologize for speaking too quickly.

    Apology accepted.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    “Show me ONE place, just one, in the Confessions, Pieper, Walter, Luther or Scriptures where Justification ever equals Sanctification in any sense. You won´t find it.”

    Fair enough. Nevertheless, here we have the distinction between objective and subjective justification. The believer is the one who is justified by faith. And we do not allow the Roman Catholics to run wild with the “snow covering the pile of dung” analogy. We simply say that of course the person who is truly justified in God’s eyes is sanctified, for they have Christ (I Cor. 1:30). No one will be saved who is also not sanctified in this sense. That said, in pastoral practice, the minster certainly does separate justification from sanctification – because what truly matters in the encounter of the terrified sinner with God is that the *external* and life-giving word of absolution be spoken, without regard for any love for God that Rome says must exist in the penitent.

    Frank – I’m having deja vu here (we talked about this at BJS, as I recall), you can find the references in this discussion/debate I had here: http://stand-firm.blogspot.com/2012/11/are-lutherans-weak-on-sanctification.html

    Here is just one clip: “And now, post-fall, there is a righteousness that grows in the Christian – you can clearly see it in SD II: 65 and 66 (the new powers *in* us), 68 (one is weak, another strong in the Spirit), and 71, 72 (these gifts – including virtues – are strengthened), for example.”

    +Nathan

  • FWS

    nathan @ 84
    you are totally quoting fc, sd II out of context in your last quote.
    And in doing so, you are overthrowing the entire point of sd art II.

    The entire point is contained in the quote I gave you, which is this:
    We can in NO way cooperate in our sanctification or preservation.

    and this:
    we must cooperate with the HS in our mortification (our daily life of repentence).

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    Again, I think you are turning Luther on his head. And the Lutheran Confessions.

    See Jordan Cooper’s recent posts on sanctification in the Lutheran Confessions. A couple from these:

    “Meanwhile, because holiness has begun and is growing daily, we await the time when our flesh will be put to death, will be buried with all its uncleanness, and will come forth gloriously and arise to complete and perfect holiness in a new, eternal life.” LC Second Part, 57

    “But the Creed brings pure grace and makes us righteous and acceptable to God. Through this knowledge we come to love and delight in all the commandments of God because we see here in the Creed how God gives himself completely to us, with all his gifts and power, to help us keep the Ten Commandments: the Father gives us all creation, Christ all his works, the Holy Spirit all his gifts.” LC Second Part, 69

    The quote you are referring to (42 [& 43] in SD II is clearly talking about initial conversion to Christ, i..e justification, i.e. the passive righteousness of faith). Also from the conversation I referred you to note what I said there:

    “I would say that SD III, 65-68 and 88 are a good counter-balance to SD III, 34-43, which, if taken by themselves might give the impression that there is no synergism, or cooperation, in sanctification.

    See also SD III: 25 (http://bookofconcord.org/sd-righteousness.php) : “For not everything that belongs to conversion belongs likewise to the article of justification, in and to which belong and are necessary only the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and faith, which receives this in the promise of the Gospel, whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, whence we receive and have forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, sonship, and heirship of eternal life.” (therefore, we speak of ongoing conversion, which would belong to sanctification. “Only the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and faith” are involved in justification. This implies that there is something more that is involved in sanctification, does it not?)

    Note in FC SD VI, we live and walk *in* the Law by the power of the Spirit (i.e, faith). The Law does work death in the one who lives *by* it as power (i.e. not by faith). Also: “…free from the curse of the Law, yet they should daily exercise themselves *in* the Law of the Lord” (http://bookofconcord.org/sd-thirduse.php#para18 )

    Formula: “Through preaching and meditation on His Word God kindles faith and other godly virtues in us. They are the Holy Spirit’s gifts and works *alone*.”

    Absolutely. What do we have that we have not received? I am talking about the new man cooperating, not the old man. The Holy Spirit creates the new man – the new nature, in us. We do not have this new man apart from justifying faith in Him, which means in communion with Him. ”

    In any case Frank, perhaps I should ask you to lay out as best you can the main differences you see between sanctification and mortification. I see the continued mortification of the old man, or flesh, as a part of the growth in sanctification.

    +Nathan

  • fws

    Nathan @ 86

    I would suggest that you sit down and actually try to outline the argumentative chain found in fc I and II solid declaration. The two articles must be read as an inseparable couplet.
    Your questions will all be answered in that way.

    if you like. I would be happy to review your outline with you.

    treat fc I and II as one continuous argument. For now set aside the “we reject” articles at the end. Just for now.

    Nathan: you and I are just not that clever. Lets practice,the theological mortification of restricting our mauinga to the 4 corners of a text. Note that apology art 18 would also be useful to outline in this context.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    Thank you for the offer but I am going to need to decline. I don’t think I am being clever, just reading the BOC in light of what had been said by men like Luther, Flacius, and Chemnitz about these issues.

    Blessings,
    Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Frank,

    Thanks be to God other people have time on their hands for this: http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/2013/04/on-renovation.html

    I hope this article is a blessing to you.

    In Christ,
    Nathan

  • FWS

    nathan @ 88

    our conversation is over Nathan. Best of Luck!

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    All,

    Frank may be done with our conversation, but for the benefit of others paying attention here, I give you a gift from a very fine pastor and scholar, Dr. Holger Sonntag:

    http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/silent-no-more-luther-lays-down-the-law-on-how-to-preach-the-law-200-proof-version/

    Its time we let Luther speak.

    +Nathan

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