Lutheran In Brasil

The Lutheran 3rd Use of the Law (The Official Teaching, Formula of Concord)

Posted in Uncategorized by william1580 on 06/01/2010

The Lutheran Formula of Concord VI. “The Third Use of the Law.”

The reader will please note the following:

The problem with translating German document from 500 years ago, is not only that the words and sentences do not speak English in a literal translation. The problem is also that the order in which things are presented do not always follow an order that a modern English speaker would find coherent. Rather than discuss one category within a presentation and moving on to the next, Germans from the period tend to bounce back and forth between categories to make a contrast. The way this is done however, makes the presentation disorienting to a modern English speaker and can easily obscure or misdirect the point they are trying to make.

To overcome this problem, I have done the following:

I have 1) combined the Epitome (a sort of “executive summary” contained in the Formula of Concord) with the Solid Declaration (the longer form of the article). I have marked the parts from the Epitomy as (E) and the parts taken from the Solid Declaration as (SD).

2) I have rearranged the article to group together all the sentences speaking to the same thing. Ie, sentences about the New Man/Regeneration are together, and sentences about Old Adam are grouped together. The reader can check what I have done against the online Bente edition of the Formula of Concord, because I have carefully preserved the section numbering used there (“#]“).

3) I have also included the full text of scripture passages where the confessors have usually only included the passage reference. The result, I hope, is a reading of this important article that allows for a much better and easier understanding of what the Confessors are confessing and will make more obvious the structure of their presentation

Because I have carefully preserved the section numbers, the reader can easily go back to the original Bente translation here:

http://www.bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#VI. The Third Use of the Law.

and see how the original reads and flows. Judge for yourself then which presentation is more clear, and whether or not my arrangement preserves faithfully the understanding and intent of the original in it´s every detail.

Important terms: I think it will be obvious to the reader of this article that there are several key terms here. The heart of this article is a Law/Gospel distinction made within the Believe. The confessors point out that whenever we talk about the Believer, we must be clear which nature of the Believer we are referring to. Are we referring at any one point to New Man? Or Old Adam? “Believer” is distinguished according to his “Regenerated New Man” versus his “Old Adam. There is also an important distinction made between the “New Obedience” of the New Man that is worked from the Holy Gospel versus the “Good Works” of the Law worked out of the Old Adam by the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, care is taken by the confessors to make the point that “Law” and “Good Works” are terms that are to be understood and applied identically whether referring to Believers or Unbelievers. It will be seen that this point is felt so critical by the confessors in that they underscore this point by referring to the “Eternal Will of God” to indicate that the fact that Believers have the Revealed or Written Law and unbelievers have only the “natural law”(ie conscience) does not mean that a special Law exists that is a special and christian “3rd use of the Law” ala John Calvin”. The reader will note that this is the intended purpose of interjecting that term “Eternal Will of God”.

The Controvery dealt with in this Article

1](E) The Law was given to men,1](SD) and is useful (E)for three reasons:

(E)First, that thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men [and that wild and intractable men might be restrained, as though by certain bars]; (SD)1. to the end that external discipline and decency are maintained by it against wild, disobedient men

(E)Secondly, that men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins; (SD)2. that through the Law men are brought to a knowledge of their sins;

(E)Thirdly, believers still have the Old Adam clinging to them. For this reason only, the regenerate might need a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life. (SD)3. but also that, when they have been born anew by the Spirit of God, converted to the Lord, and thus the veil of Moses has been lifted from them, they live and walk in the law,

(E) There is a disagreement over whether the third use of the Law is to be urged or not upon Christians. (SD)A dissension has occurred between some few theologians concerning this third and last use of the Law.

(SD)2] For the one side taught and maintained that the Regenerate[,Sanctified, Born Again] do not learn the New Obedience, or in what Good Works they ought to walk, from the Law, and that this teaching is not to be urged [from The Law], because Believers have been made free by the Son of God, have become the temples of His Spirit, and therefore do freely of themselves what God requires of them, by the prompting and impulse of the Holy Ghost, just as the sun of itself, without any [foreign] impulse, completes its ordinary course.

(SD)3] Over against this the other side taught: Although the truly Believing are verily moved by God’s Spirit, and thus, according to the Inner Man, do God’s Will from a free spirit, yet it is just the Holy Ghost who uses the Written Law for instruction with Believers, by which the Truly Believing also learn to serve God, not according to the Believer´s own thoughts, but according to His written Law and Word, which is a sure rule and standard of a godly life and walk, how to order it in accordance with The Eternal and Immutable Will of God.

Affirmative Theses. The True Christian Doctrine concerning This Controversy.

[The Believer as New Man needs no Law and is free from all threat and condemnation of The Law.]

(E)2a] 1. Men truly believing in Christ and truly converted to God have been freed and exempted from the curse and coercion of the Law 4a] 3. And that they are regenerate[sanctified, born again] and renewed in the spirit of their mind. (SD)7] Their sin is covered by the perfect obedience of Christ, so that it is not imputed to believers for condemnation, and also the mortification of the old Adam and the renewal in the spirit of their mind is begun through the Holy Ghost

(E)6] 5. The Spirit of God who dwells in Believers works Fruits of the Spirit… through the regenerate. These Fruits are done by believers, so far as they are regenerate spontaneously and freely, as though they knew of no command, threat, or reward; for in this manner the children of God live in the Law and walk according to the Law of God, which [mode of living] St. Paul in his epistles calls the Law of Christ and the Law of the mind

Rom. 7:25 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Rom.8:2 & 8:7: 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [1] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you [2] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, [3] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Gal. 6:2: 1 Brothers, [1] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.

(SD)6] And, indeed, if the believing and elect children of God were completely renewed in this life by the indwelling Spirit, so that in their nature and all its powers they were entirely free from sin, they would need no law, and hence no one to drive them either, but they would do of themselves, and altogether voluntarily, without any instruction, admonition, urging or driving of the Law, what they are in duty bound to do according to God’s will; just as the sun, the moon, and all the constellations of heaven have their regular course of themselves, unobstructed, without admonition, urging, driving, force, or compulsion, according to the order of God which God once appointed for them, yea, just as the holy angels render an entirely voluntary obedience.

(SD)4]The truly believing and truly converted to God and justified Christians are liberated and made free from the curse of the Law. 5]The meaning of St. Paul in I Tim 1:9 is that the Law cannot burden with its curse those who have been reconciled to God through Christ; nor must it vex the regenerate with its coercion, because they have pleasure in God’s Law after the inner man.

I tim 1:9 8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, [2] liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound [3] doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

[The Believer as Old Adam]

(E)4b] Yet in the present life this regeneration and renewal is not complete, but only begun. The Old Adam still cleaves to us unto death. (SD)7] Believers are not renewed in this life perfectly or completely, completive vel consummative [as the ancients say];

(E) Believers are, by the spirit of their mind, as New Men, in a constant struggle against the Old Adam. 4]The flesh, and it´s corrupt nature and disposition…still permeates the understanding, will, and all the powers of man.,(SD)7] nevertheless the old Adam clings to them still in their nature and all its internal and external powers. 8] Of this the apostle has written

Rom. 7:18ff.: 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Gal. 5:1716 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, [4] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

[Why Believers as Old Adam Still Need the Law]

(E) 4]The Law of the Lord [needs to] always shine before believers [only then because of this Old Adam that still clings to them.

(E) in order that they may not from human devotion institute wanton and self-elected cults [that they may frame nothing in a matter of religion from the desire of private devotion, and may not choose divine services not instituted by God’s Word]; (SD) 20] This doctrine of the Law is needful for Believers, in order that their Old Adam may not hit upon a holiness and devotion of it´s own, and under the pretext of the Spirit of God set up a self-chosen worship, without God’s Word and command, as it is written

Deut. 12:8,28,32: “Ye shall not do … every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes, etc., but observe and hear all these words which I command thee. Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish therefrom.”

(SD) 21] So, too, the doctrine of the Law, in and with [the exercise of] the good works of Believers, is necessary for the reason that otherwise man can easily imagine that his work and life are entirely pure and perfect. But the Law of God prescribes to Believers good works in this way, that it shows and indicates at the same time, as in a mirror, that in this life they are still imperfect and impure in us, so that we must say with the beloved Paul,

1 Cor. 4:4: 1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Thus Paul, when exhorting the regenerate to good works, presents to them expressly the Ten Commandments,

Rom. 13:9 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.

; and that his good works are imperfect and impure he recognizes from the Law,

Rom 7:7ff: 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

and David declares

(

Ps. 119:32: Viam mandatorum tuorum cucurri, I will run the way of Thy commandments when you enlarge my heart; Ps. 143:2…but enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified,.

E) 4]This is also so that Old Adam may be subdued against his will, not only by the admonition and threatening of the Law, but also by punishments and blows, so that he may not employ his own will, but instead follow and surrender himself captive to the Spirit,

1 Cor. 9:27: 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, [2] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Rom. 6:12: 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace

.

Gal. 6:14: 11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which [2] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

Ps. 119:1ff : 1 [1] Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
4 You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules. [2]
8 I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!

Heb. 13:21: 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us [1] that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

(Heb. 12:1): 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

. (SD) 19] But as far as the Old Adam is concerned, which still clings to the Believer, The Old Adam must be driven not only with the Law, but also with punishments; nevertheless he does everything against his will and under coercion, no less than the godless are driven and held in obedience by the threats of the Law,

1 Cor. 9:27 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, [2] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Rom. 7:18. 19. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

(SD) 9] Because of these lusts of the flesh [and the Old Adam which still clings to them] the truly believing, elect, and regenerate children of God need in this life not only the daily instruction and admonition, warning, and threatening of the Law, but also frequently punishments, that they may be roused [the Old Adam is driven out of them] and follow the Spirit of God, as it is written

Ps. 119:71: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes.”
And again,

1 Cor. 9:27: “I keep under my body and bring it into subjection, lest that, by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

And again,

Heb. 12:8: “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.”

as Dr. Luther has fully explained this at greater length in the Summer Part of the Church Postil, on the Epistle for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity. [This is Luther´s semi-confessional and wonderful “Sermon on The Two Kingdoms and About Two Kinds of Righteousness” delivered at Marburg in 1528].

[The Gospel and Law Within The Believer: the New Obedience versus the Good Works of Believers]

(SD) 10] Now we must also explain distinctively what the Gospel does, produces, and works towards the new obedience of believers, and what is the office of the Law in this matter, as regards the good works of believers.

[The difference between the “Fruits of the Spirit” and the“Works of the Law” is in the heart of the doer, there is no difference in what is done]:

(E) 6] 5. Fruits of the Spirit…are the works which the Spirit of God who dwells in believers works through the regenerate, and which are done by believers so far as they are regenerate [spontaneously and freely], as though they knew of no command, threat, or reward; for in this manner the children of God live in the Law and walk according to the Law of God, which [mode of living] St. Paul in his epistles calls the Law of Christ and the Law of the mind

Rom. 7:25 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Rom 8:2, 8:7: 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [1] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you [2] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, [3] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Gal. 6:2. 1 Brothers, [1] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.

(SD) 11] For the Law says indeed that it is God’s will and command that we should walk in a new life, but it does not give the power and ability to begin and do it; but the Holy Ghost, who is given and received, not through the Law, but through the preaching of the Gospel…

Gal. 3:14 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” [4] 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit [5] through faith.

…(SD) renews the heart. 12] Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the Law so as to teach the regenerate from it, and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is the [good and] acceptable will of God…

Rom. 12:2 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, [1] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] 2 Do not be conformed to this world, [3] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [4]

…(SD) in what good works God hath before ordained that they should walk…

Eph. 2:10: 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body [1] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But [2] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

(E) 5]4. Works of the Law are works which are done according to the Law are and are called Works of the Law as long as they are only extorted from man by urging the punishment and threatening of God’s wrath. (SD) So then the Holy Spirit also exhorts Believers, according to their Old Adam, to works of the Law. When Believers are idle, negligent, and rebellious in this matter because of the Old Adam, the Holy Spirit reproves them because of that Old Adam through the Law.

(SD) So the Holy Spirit carries on both offices together: He slays and makes alive; He leads into hell and brings up again.
For the office of the Holy Spirit is not only to comfort, but also to reprove, as it is written: When the Holy Ghost is come, He will reprove the world (which includes also the old Adam) of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. 13] But sin is everything that is contrary to God’s Law. 14] And St. Paul says: All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, etc., and to reprove is the peculiar office of the Law. Therefore, as often as believers stumble, they are reproved by the Holy Spirit from the Law, and by the same Spirit are raised up and comforted again with the preaching of the Holy Gospel.

(E) 7] 6. For both believers and unbelievers then the Law is and remains one [and the same] Law, namely, the immutable will of God. [For both believer and unbeliever, righteous works are the same.]

(SD) 15] In order that, as far as possible, all misunderstanding may be prevented, and the distinction between the works of the Law and those of the Spirit be properly taught and preserved it is to be noted with especial diligence that when we speak of good works which are in accordance with God’s Law (for otherwise they are not good works), then the word Law has only one sense, namely, the immutable will of God, according to which men are to conduct themselves in their lives.

(E) 7]6.The difference, in obedience, is alone in man. (SD)16] The difference, however, is in the works, because of the difference in the men who strive to live according to this Law and will of God.:

(E) Men who are not yet regenerate do the Law out of constraint and unwillingly (just like the regenerate also do according to the Old Adam). (SD) 16] For as long as man is not regenerate, and [therefore] conducts himself according to the Law and does the works because they are commanded thus, from fear of punishment or desire for reward, he is still under the Law, and his works are called by St. Paul properly works of the Law, for they are extorted by the Law, as those of slaves; and these are saints after the order of Cain [that is, hypocrites].

(E) [In contrast] the believer, so far as he is regenerate, sanctified and the New Man, is obedient without constraint and with a willing spirit that no threatenings [however severe] of the Law could ever extort from him. (SD) 17] When man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says,

Rom. 8:2: 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [1] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you [2] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, [3] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

[Rom. 7:23]: 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

[1 Cor. 9:21 ]: 19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

(E) 2b] Because of the Old Adam which still clings to them therefore, believers are not without Law, but have been redeemed by the Son of God in order that they should exercise themselves in it day and night [that they should meditate upon God’s Law day and night, and constantly exercise themselves in its observance,

[Ps. 1:2 ]: 1 Blessed is the man [1]
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law [2] of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

Ps. 119: 1 [1] Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
4 You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules. [2]
8 I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!…..

For even our first parents before the Fall did not live without Law, who had the Law of God written also into their hearts, because they were created in the image of God,

Gen. 1:26ff: 26 Then God said, “Let us make man [8] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Gen 2:16ff: 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat [4] of it you shall surely die.”

Gen 3:3: 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

(SD) 4] Therefore Believers should [mortify their Old Adam and] daily exercise [mortify] themselves in the Law of the Lord [to do Good Works], as it is written,

Ps. 1:2;119:1: Blessed is the man whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law doth he meditate day and night.

For the Law is a mirror in which the will of God, and what pleases Him, are exactly portrayed, and which should [therefore] be constantly held up to the believers and be diligently urged upon them without ceasing.

(SD) 22] But how and why the Good Works of Believers, although in this life they are imperfect and impure because of sin in the flesh, are nevertheless acceptable and well-pleasing to God, is not taught by the Law, which requires an altogether perfect, pure New Obedience if it is to please God. But the Gospel teaches that our spiritual offerings, [our Good Works], are acceptable to God through faith for Christ’s sake,

1 Pet. 2:5: 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Heb. 11:4ff. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

(SD) 23] In this way Christians are not under the Law, but under grace, because by faith in Christ the persons are freed from the curse and condemnation of the Law; and because their Good Works, although they are still imperfect and impure, are acceptable to God through Christ;

(SD) 23] Moreover, because in so far as Believers have been born anew according to the inner man, Believers do what is pleasing to God, [they have a New Obedience], not by coercion of the Law, but by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, voluntarily and spontaneously from their hearts; however, those same Believers maintain nevertheless a constant struggle against the old Adam [in order to do Good Works].

(E) 3] 2. Therefore the preaching of the Law is to be urged with diligence, not only upon the unbelieving and impenitent, but also upon true believers, who are truly converted, regenerate, and justified by faith. (SD) 24] For the old Adam, as an intractable, refractory ass, is still a part of the Believer, which must be coerced to the obedience of Christ, [that is to do Good Works and put on Christ-as-example, or Christ-as-Law], not only by the teaching, admonition, force and threatening of the Law, but also oftentimes by the club of punishments and troubles.(SD) 24] This preaching of the Law is to be urged with diligence upon the Believer [on account of his Old Adam], until the body of sin is entirely put off, and man is perfectly renewed in the resurrection, when he will need neither the preaching of the Law nor its threatenings and punishments, as also the Gospel any longer; for these belong to this [mortal and] imperfect life. 25] But as they will behold God face to face, so they will, through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, do the will of God [the heavenly Father] with unmingled joy, voluntarily, unconstrained, without any hindrance, with entire purity and perfection, and will rejoice in it eternally.

(E) 8] Accordingly, we reject the teaching that the Law in the above-mentioned way and degree is not to be urged upon Christians and true Believers, but only upon unbelievers, non-Christians, and the impenitent. This teaching and error is injurious to, and conflicting with, Christian discipline and true godliness

[To the contrary, we teach that The same identical Law is to be urged in the same identical way upon Christians and true Believers, as it is upon unbelievers and the impenitent. This is to be done in exactly the same above mentioned way and degree.]

(SD) 26] We reject and condemn as an error pernicious and detrimental to Christian discipline, as also to true godliness, the teaching that the Law, in the above-mentioned way and degree, should not be urged upon Christians and the true believers, but only upon the unbelieving, unchristians, and impenitent.

[To the contrary, we believe, teach and confess that both Christians and Pagans alike should be urged with the SAME Law, in the SAME above mentioned way and and in the SAME above mentioned degree].

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Luther on Two Kinds of Righteousness

Posted in Uncategorized by william1580 on 05/31/2010

A sermon By Martin Luther on Two Kinds of Righteousness or the Two Kingdoms of Visible Works and Invisible Faith.

Matthew 9:1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing [1] their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. 9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

Luther delivered this sermon on Oct. 3d, 1529, while the Marburg Coloquium was in session. It appeared in print the following year under the title: “A sermon on Christian righteousness, or the forgiveness of sins, Preached at Marburg in Hesse, 1529, Martin Luther, Wittenberg, 1530.” On the last page are the words: “Printed at Wittenberg by Hans Weissen, 1530.” Erl. 14, 206; W. 11, 2301; St. L. 11, 1724.

The theme of this Gospel reading is a great and important article of faith. This article is called “The Forgiveness of Sins”.
Undestanding this one article correctly is the art that alone makes one a Christian. It is his most difficult, important and all consuming lifelong task. He will never have time to find something new, higher or better to learn. It will make a Christian honest and give him eternal life.

It is necessary then, to teach this article diligently and relentlessly in the Christian church, so we can learn to understand this article clearly, and distinguish it clearly from what it is not.

But to understand this article that alone makes one a Christian, and not lose it, we must know something else as well. We must know that there are two kinds of true or God pleasing righteousness or two powers. We must also then learn how to skillfully tell the difference between the two.

[So what are these two kinds of righteousness or powers that are so very important to know about and tell the difference between?]

There is a righteousness that is here on earth. This righteousness is willed and ordered by God and is included in the second table of the ten commandments. This is called “man´s righteousness” or “the world´s righteousness”. The only purpose of this righteousness is to help us live together and enjoy the gifts God gives us.

It is God´s desire that our present life be kept under restraint, and lived in peace, tranquility and harmony. God here wants each person to attend to his own affairs and not interfere with the business, property or person of anyone else. Because God really wants this, He has even added a blessing in Leviticus 18:5: “Which if a man do, he shall live in them” which means that whoever men see is honest, will enjoy a good and long life.

Now on the other hand, if men are not willing to voluntarily practice being righteous, God sends dictatorships, armed police and brute force to restrain and check those who refuse to be righteous. Where even this is not enough and government can no longer restrain anyone, then God sends famine, war and other terrible things, to subvert the government and destroy evil men. This has happened to the Jews, Greeks and Romans.

From all this, we can learn God´s Will: earthly righteousness is to be practiced and maintained. We can also know that God will provide what is necessary to make this happen. If it does not happen, God will take it away and instead destroy everything. What this all should tell us is that God is very serious about earthly righteousness!

This is the entire short sum and substance of this righteousness on earth.

So it is necessary to encourage and urge everyone to voluntarily be diligent and even zealous in the exercise of this earthly and outward righteousness rather than having him be driven to it by force and punishment.

This encouragement looks like setting out what is nicely summarized in the second table of the 10 commandments and then applying it in the context of the all the various relationships one finds himself in in his life. This includes every earthly responsibility, duty, role, profession, trade, career, occupation, job, vocation, work, or task, in the context of family, friends, work, and larger society, however great or seemingly trivial. We can be confident that God himself has ordered and appointed these things.

What we do with these relationships, our vocations, are to be respected and highly honored. We should find pleasure in them and be happy to do what is required on the different spheres of life. For example when we are told to honor our mother and father, every child, employee, employer, citizen and whoever should feel joy in this and have no greater treasure on earth. It should feel like heaven to do this.

This should be taught in this way for the one purpose of assuring everyone without any doubt at all: “now I know that such a work life or position is right and proper and should have full assurance that God is really and truly pleased with it. If I am Christian, I further have his word and command as a sure witness, which never deceives of fails me.

But when your conscience rests on this decision that you know your works please God, don´t let this in any way become an earthly “gospel”. We owe this assurance alone to Jesus who alone is the Gospel. We should delight in this [other Righteousness] and reverence it. We do this even if it is useless to us except that it quiets our conscience and in what relationship we stand to God.

In the past many of us allowed ourselves to be led in the name of the devil by the whims of every lying preacher. There was not even a spark of such teachings. We were blind in error. We tried all sorts of works like tithing and prayer methods, and bought books and tapes. We expended and wasted time and money and energy. We started skateboard ministries and tried target marketing and modern business methods to make our churches grow. We got really busy doing the God-thing and make others feel guilty if they didn´t follow our example, and we neglected important relationships and duties to do all this. We all groped around in darkness to find THE way to serve God, to know what our purpose or ministry or God´s will was in our life and for our life. Yet no one found it. We found burnout instead.
In all of this worthless, unproductive insanity, there was no God who might say: THIS is pleasing to me and is what I have actually commanded, etc.

Yes. Now we see the problem. Our blind guides did nothing less than lose sight of God´s word. They separated it from good works. Instead they set up all these other works to take over and invade every part of our life. In addition they discarded and despised the very positions in life where alone we can do God´s Will. They treated those as mundane, trivial “unspiritual” things, as if God didn´t know what he was doing or even as well as we do, how to manage is affairs here on earth.

It is really important then today to teach and impress on Christians by frequent repetition and admonitions this Word of God. This does not burden us with any special, great or difficult works. It instead sends us to the position in which we find ourselves. It tells us to look for nothing else more “spiritual”, but to look for our contentment and happiness there and with a cheerful heart we should be satisfied and not look for something more. This Word tells us that we can be certain that for God, this truly pleases him and is greater than any religious thing we could ever do for Him, or better than any moral or religious betterment program we could establish. We should be certain that this is true for even the most humble domestic chore, even though that job is to clean toilets or change diapers.

Before we were deceived to our shame into thinking that being part of a growing successful church or a dynamic spiritual movement, being in something we saw as “alive with the spirit” rather than be about doing the simple things that needed doing, or making our life be all about church, to the neglect of all else, was what pleased God.

Our foolishness was in placing importance on doing things that felt like were making some grand difference or being a part of something important. When something did not stand out as extraordinary we decided they were worthless in pleasing God. In doing this we discarded what God is pleased with because it does something that betters the life of someone, and instead busied ourselves with things that bettered the earthly life of no one,. Especially not even ourselves, and for this very reason, they did not please God.

We failed to see that God himself has attached and bound His most precious treasure, his Word, to such common and mundane works as taking care of our parents in their old age, menial domestic chores, work, friendships and being a good neighbor or citizen. He has arranged these things and commanded them, and he wants us to accept them as though he himself had personally appeared to you and asked you to do them for your neighbor.

What would you do if Christ himself with all the angels showed up at your front door and commanded you to sweep your house and wash your dishes? You would feel so happy and would not know how to act with all that joy. And it would not be because of the task you were doing. It would be that you knew you were serving Him. He who is greater than all of heaven and earth combined.

If we would only think this way, and by the power of faith in the Word of God look beyond us, and think that it is not man, but God in heaven who wishes and commands these things, we would run full speed and in a most faithful and diligent manner to do these common and insignificant works, as they are regarded by the world, and chose these works over any other. There is no other reason why this is not done than that the works are separated from the Word. God´s command is not respected or regarded, and we move along in a blind and drowsy manner, and think that going through the motions is more than enough. Because we regard these works as insufficient, we stare and look around for other works. We become rude and fretful, and we do nothing in love, faithfulness and obedience unless it strokes our ego somehow. We have no scruples regarding this negligence. We are faithless to our fellow-men, we injure or vex them, and this is how we heap upon ourselves all kinds of misery, wrath, and misfortune.

This then concludes the first part of our discourse. We are saying here that this external righteousness is to be urged both in admonitions and threats as something that is urgently important.. This is precisely because whoever despises this kind of righteousness, despises God and His Word.

For this reason, let every man look to his own self as to what he various relationships are and what his responsibilities and duties are in each one of them. This could be to command, rule and order, or on the contrary to obey, serve and labor. Let him attend to all these duties of his various positions in life or vocations for the same of God. Let him be fully assured that God has more respect for such seemingly mundane faithfulness than for all the work and piety of the religious, who have never yet attained to this true, that is, god-pleasing outward righteousness, nor are the religious able to extol all their works and do them as heartily as a child or maid performing their duties according to God´s command.

Wouldn´t this be a great world if people believed this and everybody remained at his post, always focused on what is really and truly God´s will and command? Heaven would then shower all sorts of blessings and gifts instead of the irritations and heartaches that we have, we really seek, and so deserve.

This outward visible earthly righteousness is only visible works. This means it excludes faith and Christ. This present life demands this kind of righteousness between done between men, whether our superiors, inferiors, neighbors or our family. It has rewards here on earth. It also ends with this life. Whoever doesn´t do this will have a shorter life.
That human visible earthly righteousness will shield us from punishment and let us enjoy life, but it still can´t win God´s grace or the forgiveness of our sins. Therefore even though we have this visible righteousness we must still have a much higher invisible Righteousness. The one that only matters to God, frees us from sin and bad conscience, and leads from death into eternal life

Far above this outward earthly visible righteousness, there is another [inner invisible unearthly Righteousness], that does not belong to this temporary life on earth, but which is makes a difference only to God and which leads us to the life beyond and keeps us in it.

In contrast to that earthly outward righteousness this inner Righteousness that only matters to God, soars far above anything that is upon earth. It has nothing to do with anything we do as either Christian or pagan.
For how can it be about works and what we do, since ALL that this body can perform and that is called “works” is already fully, and completely included in that outer earthly righteousness that is only about all things visible. [the invisible

Furthermore, we become and are called Christians only by believing this article. This is the only thing that separates us and divorces us from all the other good and righteous people on earth. This is because they have a different foundation and nature for their goodness and righteousness, rigorous lives, and particular disciplines and rituals. Believing this article is also exactly what separates us from the works of those who hold positions and offices approved by the Word of God like pastors and missionaries and religious positions. These positions constitute a holy calling and the ones who do them are called holy and deserve the praise of men because they do their duty. But again this makes no one a Christian.
Receiving this one article of faith is what ALONE makes one a Christian and assures him he is in the kingdom of Heaven, in which Christ protects him and daily forgives his sins. Whoever looks for something additional here, or want to deal with God on a different basis must know that he is no Christian, but is instead rejected and condemned by God.

For this very reason, the greatest skill and intelligence is needed to grasp and understand this invisible and unearthly Righteousness. We must both in our hearts and in dealing with God correctly distinguish it from outward visible righteousness. This alone is the art and wisdom of being Christian. It is so important that even the Apostles were consumed with talk of it, and yet now it suffers the misfortune that no art is mastered sooner than this one.
There is no greater theme for a preacher than the grace of God and the forgiveness of sins, yet we are so wicked people as Lutherans, that once we think we have it down, we are immediately masters and doctors and itch for something greater as though we need to make up new stuff.

I have been teaching and studying this subject with a lot of diligence for many years (more than any one of those who imagine that they know it all) in preaching, writing and reading. Yet I still cannot boast that I have mastered this one subject that alone makes one a Christian by believing it. I am still so very glad that I remain a pupil with those who are just beginning to learn. For this reason I feel the need to admonish and warn all such as want to be Christians, both teachers and pupils, that they guard themselves against such shameful delusions and ego and understand that this one subject is the most difficult and greatest art that can be found upon the earth. This is exactly why even Saint Paul had to confess and say (2 cor 9:15) that it is an unspeakable gift,that is , one that cannot be described among men with words so that they might regard it as highly and dearly as it really is in and of itself.

The reason this restlessness happens is that human understanding just can´t get past this visible righteousness of works. At the same time it cannot comprehend the invisible Righteousness of faith. So doctoral studies usually means being confined to works and resting upon them. It is impossible for anyone in times of temptation and distress feeling the sting of a guilty conscience to stop groping around for works to stand and rest upon. We then try to list the things we want to do, or did. We find nothing to put on that list and the heart feels only doubt and despair. This weakness is glued to our nature so tightly that even those who have faith and know the forgiveness of sins can not overcome it. Even consuming themselves with effort and exertion remains a daily and constant struggle.

Point: All human knowledge, understanding, ability and power is useless to get past this earthly visible righteousness, and instead transfer oneself to this article of faith ALONE. Even though we hear a lot about it and are conversant in it, there continues that old delusion and inborn corruption which wants to present something tangible and visible of it´s own to God and make those things the foundation of salvation. This is the case for those who are Christians and fight against this visible righteousness. Others are completely lost.

For all these reasons therefore, this single doctrine, that our righteousness and goodness consists entirely in the forgiveness of sins must be rightly comprehended and then firmly maintained and distinguished from that other visible truly God-pleasing righteousness that will perish with the earth. We must therefore get beyond ourselves and what our bodies are capable of visibly doing. We must ascend higher than our reason, which keeps us in conflict with ourselves and reminds us both of sin and good works. And we must soar so high as to see neither sin nor good works but be rooted and grounded in this one article and see and know nothing but it alone.

Let grace or forgiveness be pitted against not only sin, but also against good works, and let all visible righteousness, all human righteousness and holiness be completely and utterly excluded here.

We can think that within each man there are two conflicting powers or kingdoms. Externally, in this life, man is to be pious and righteous and do good works and the like. But if he aims beyond this life and wishes to deal with God, he must then know that in that kingdom, neither his sin nor his piety matters. Here is why this is important to know: Even though that man might feel his sins , which disturb his conscience, and even though the law demands good works, he will not listen to those voices or give them attention, but will boldly reply: “Yes I am a sinner, and Christ has forgiven that sin! In fact, I am seated on the throne in a kingdom into which sin cannot reach.

This is the way we are to regard the kingdom of Christ as this large and beautiful arch or vault, like the vast canopy of stars at night that is everywhere over us, and covers and protects us against the just anger and wrath of God. In fact we should regard this as a great extended body that pure grace and forgiveness illuminates and permeates and fills the entire world and all things we can see and not see. All sins will hardly appear as a spark in comparison with this great extended sea of light, and although sin may oppress it, it cannot injure anything, but it must disappear and vanish before grace. Those who understand this and have truly internalized this doctrine can then be called “masters” of the doctrine, but the price for this title is that we will all still have to humble ourselves and not be ashamed to keep on learning this lesson for as long as we live.

The reason that we have to resign ourselves to the fact that this is our sole lifelong task as a Christian is the fact that wherever our nature succeeds in finding sin, it tries to make an unbearable burden of it. Satan fans the spark and blows up a great fire which fills heaven and earth. Here we must firmly turn the leaf over and must firmly conclude that if the sin were ever so great or burdensome, then this article of faith is even higher, wider and greater. This opinion is established not by man´s wisdom, but by Him Who has comprehended and filled heaven and earth and holds them all in the hollow of his hand as Isaiah 40:42 tells us. My sin and righteousness must remain here on earth as far as they concern my life and conduct. In heaven above it is a different story. I have another treasure greater than either of these there. This is because my dear Jesus is seated and holds me in his gentle arms, he covers me with his wings, and overshadows me with his grace.

So ok, you say, this seems unlikely and unbelievable since I daily feel sin and my conscience condemns me and threatens me with God´s wrath. So how can this be? I answer that in this way: For this reason, I say, one must understand that the righteousness of a Christian is nothing that can be named or imagined but the forgiveness of sin, that is, it is an invisible kingdom of power which deals only and solely with sin and does this with such abundant grace that it must take away all wrath. This kingdom is useless in the earthly kingdom sense of works and sin. It is only useful to God and to anyone who suffers from the stricken conscience.

This kingdom is known by the name “the forgiveness of sins” for the reason that we are truly all sinners before God. Yes absolutely everything in us is sin, even though we may indeed and in fact have every ounce of human righteousness. This fact exists because where God speaks of sin, there must be real and great sin. But then from precisely knowing that fact, we then also know that forgiveness is no jest or trivial thing. It is the most serious thing we can know. Sin takes away all your holiness, no matter how good a person you are on earth. But again, then we know that forgiveness takes all sin and wrath away. Therefore sin is not what sends people to hell and goodness is not what elevates people into heaven.

This is how this will be helpful to you in your daily life: when the devil disturbs your conscience, and tries to bring despair to your heart by saying “don´t you realize that one must be good and pious and righteous?”. You will respond by boldly talking back to the devil and saying “yes you are right! I am a sinner, I already know that because this article I believe in called the forgiveness of sins has taught me this is true for a long time now. I am to be good and pious and do what I can before the world but before God I am willing to be only a sinner, and to be called nothing else. That is so that this article of forgiveness can remain true about me personally, because otherwise there would not be forgiveness or grace for me but then it would need to be called a crown of righteousness and of my own personal worthiness and merit. So ok, even though I admit that I feel nothing but my many and great sins, yet I am going to surrender myself to the belief that they are no longer sins, for I have for them a very precious panacea and drug which takes away the power and poison of sin and wholly destroys. It is this word “forgiveness”. Before this word, sin disappears and melts away like stubble before a fire. Without this forgiveness, no effort, suffering or heroic deeds avail against even my smallest of sins. For without forgiveness sin is and remains pure sin and even the smallest speck condemns me.

So only confess this article [of the forgiveness of sins] loudly: Before the world I may be righteous and do everything God requires. But before God it is only sin according to this article. Therefore I am a sinner, but better I am a sinner who now has forgiveness, and who sits at the throne where grace rules supreme as I am told in psalm 116. If this were not so I would be a sinner like Judas who saw only his sin, but no forgiveness. But Christians , no matter how much sin they feel in themselves, only in that word forgiveness in Christ they see much more abundant grace presented to them, and poured out over them.

Learn to magnify this article in exactly this way and spread it as far as your Christ reaches and rules. Learn and practice to elevate it far above everything in heaven and on earth. For as the Word soars over all this, so must also faith, which alone can comprehend this Word, and keep hearts steadfast in it, overcome sin, conscience, death and the devil forever.
Consider now after all that we have talked about just what kind of person a Christian is. He is one who lords it over death and the devil, and before whom all sin is like a withered leaf. This is the point in our discussion that I want you to examine yourself and see just how far you have learned this lesson, and whether it is such and easy and insignificant matter as some inexperienced souls think it is. So if you have learned this and truly internalized it, then all misfortune , death and the devil will be as nothing. But since you are still vexed with sin, and since you are still frightened and in despair on account of death, hell, and God´s judgment and what is wrong with you and everyone else, then I suggest that it is better to simply humble yourself, give honor to this Word of God and confess that you have never yet fully understood this matter. Worry is the liturgy of idolatry. What you worry about reveals who and what your idols are and will inform you how far you are from knowing this doctrine of forgiveness.

In short let everyone examine his own heart and he will find a false Christian there who imagines that he knows all about this subject before he has learned the first principles of it. We hear the words, read and repeated. To carry out the principle in practice and character, to internalized it, and our conscience is founded on it alone and rests on it alone is not in man to do. He is artless here.

This is why I am constantly all over everyone who wants to be a Christian to think about this constantly, assimilate it, practice it, and chastise themselves with it. We can at least this way have a taste of it and so as James 1:18 says, be a sort of first fruits of his creatures. The Apostles were full of Spirit and faith and they couldn´t master this. It is clear that we will never really master this.

Ok. So far I have explained what earthly god pleasing righteousness is, and what Christian righteousness is and what they each consist of.

If you ask further, where this forgiveness comes from, and how it has been brought about or gained, I answer simply: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come from heaven and has been made man, and has suffered and died for our sins. This is the cause the means and the treasure, through which we obtain the forgiveness of sins and for the sake of which the grace of God is bestowed upon us, for such a treasure does not come to us without means or merit, but since all of us are born in sin and are all the enemies of God, we have deserved only eternal wrath and punishment. All that we are and have is condemned. There is no help or way out of this fact. Sin is so grievous that no creature can quench it, the wrath is so great that no man can in any way or by any means appease or conciliate it. Therefore another man must take our place, namely Jesus Christ., God and man, and through his suffering and death make satisfaction for our sins and pay for them. This is the price that has been set. This price has been expended for us. For you. This is exactly how sin has been quenched and the wrath of God has been appeased, the Father has been reconciled and now has been made our friend.

Christians alone know this and also more importantly believe it, and are in this respect alone different from those of every other faith and worship on earth. The Jews , the Muslims, the false Christians, and those who would try to be righteous by what they do also boast that god is merciful. There is no man on earth who does not know something of the grace and goodness of God. What all these have in common is that they all fail to find the grace of God. In other words they do not have the treasure in which forgiveness lies and from which it flows. They continue in their blindness and imagine that they can acquire it with their efforts and works, rigid life, and their own holiness, This only makes the wrath and displeasure of God more serious.

So from this we can see that it is necessary that we rightly learn to know this treasure, and seek forgiveness where we it can be found. In other words we need to thoroughly learn to know, comprehend and keep the Lord Jesus Christ. That is because no one can come into God´s presence , find grace or obtain forgiveness of the least sin except through Christ. Because you are a sinner, and will always remain one, your conscience is always going to be present condemning you and threatening you with God´s wrath and punishment so that you cannot ever really see the grace of God, you can only believe that it is so.

With reference to the forgiveness of sins, let me say that you will not find anything at all in your heart with which you can pay this debt of sin off. And you won´t be able to raise any funds for which God might recognize you and cancel the debt in the ledger.

But I can promise you that if you seize Christ as the one who has become your substitute, who has taken your sin upon himself to the extent of having become actually and truly sin, and has given himself with all his merit and worthiness fully to you, no sin can make anything stick against you. If I am a sinner, he is holy, and is Lord over sin, death, satan, and hell so that no sin can harm you because he has been wholly given to you as both your righteousness and salvation.
Therefore we have, indeed, pure grace and forgiveness of all sins in no other place but in and through Christ. Alone. In him only this forgiveness must be sought and obtained. Whoever will come before God with any kind of work thinking that God shall recognize and regard this work as meritorious for obtaining grace and a friendly God will be disappointed and un-deceived. Instead of grace he will find wrath heaped upon himself. So you need to see that all other ways and means to God and to get into the heavenly kingdom are condemned as the doctrines of devils. The doctrine of devils is the one by which men are led and directed to their own efforts and work or to the holiness and merits of others such as saints or pastors, who have led ascetic lives and followed the rules of their order, and have suffered and give up and sacrificed a great deal. Or worse those who have comforted people in the throes of death and have admonished them to suffer death willingly, to pay for their sins. Whoever else dares to offer anything else for sin or to atone for it himself does nothing else than deny the Lord Jesus Christ. They disgrace and slander him. They do this as if the blood of Christ were of no more consequence than our repentance or good actions, or our capacity to forgive and love, or as if his blood were not sufficient to take away the sins of the entire world.

So now it is very simple: If you would be free from your sins, drop dead to seeking works and efforts and to bring them before God. Instead simply creep under the wings and into the bosom of your Christ as the One who has taken away YOUR sins, and has laid each and every one of them personally upon himself. So what this means is that you can stop chastising yourself with your sins and you can stop having anything to do with them in fact! Jesus is the Lamb of God says John 1:29 that takes away the sins of the entire world. That word world certainly is big enough and inclusive enough that it must include you! Saint Peter says in acts 4:12 “there is none other name under heaven , given among men, whereby we must be saved.” THE reason we are Christians is alone because we have Christ with all his merits and worthiness. We are not in any way Christians because of our efforts, works or right behavior or noble deeds. These things indeed make for a good st Francis, or Augustinian monk, or good Buddhist or Muslim or pious atheist, and obedient servant or an extremist or jihad martyr. Such works can never make one into a Christian.

So now we have talked about how the forgiveness of sins comes and has been won. There is still something missing!
We need to talk about how and by what means we personally might appropriate and take advantage of such righteousness, so that we may personally receive the treasure acquired by Christ. Here is a place where we need to take special care that we take the right path, and not make the mistake, which a lot of heretics have made in times past, and many erroneous minds still insist on, who think that God out to do something special with them. This type things that God will deal separately with each one by some special internal light and mysterious and private revelation, and give that one the Holy Spirit. This imagines that there is no need for the written Word or the external sermon. So we next need to know that God has ordained that no one will come to the knowledge of Christ or obtain the forgiveness he won, nor receive the Holy Spirit without the use of external and public and non secret means. Instead God has embraced this treasure in the oral word or public ministry.

What this means really is that God will not perform his work secretively or mysteriously in the heart. God instead will have his word heralded and distributed openly and transparently among the people just as Christ commands in Mark 16:15 “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, etc.”

There is a good reason for why he does this: he wants us to be certain in knowing how and where to seek and expect his grace. He does this so that in all Christendom there might be the same custom and order and not every man follow his own mind and act according to his own notions and so deceive himself and others. This would certainly happen. Because we cannot look into the heart of any many, each one might boast that he has the holy spirit and set about to spread his own thoughts as divine revelation which God had inspired and taught him alone in a special manner, and as a result, no one would know what to know or believe.

Therefore this part too, the external word or preaching, belongs to Christianity as a channel or means through which we can get the forgiveness of sins or the righteousness of Christ, with which Christ reveals and offers us his grace or lays it in our bosom, and without which no one would ever come to knowledge of this treasure. If this was not all publicly announce and preached, how would anyone know or receive in his heart the faith that Christ, the Son of God, came from heaven for our sake, died for us, and rose from the dead, acquired the forgiveness of sins and eternal life for us. And more importantly that he offers all this to you. It is for you.

Even if Christ had done everything to win this treasure for us through his suffering and death, no one could appropriate it or receive it if Christ did not have it also offered, presented and applied to us personally. Then all that he had done would be to no purpose, but would be like some great and precious treasure buried beneath the earth which no one could ever find or make use of.

I have always taught for this reason, that the oral word must precede everything else, it must be comprehended with the ears if the Holy Spirit is to enter the heart, Who through this Word enlightens the heart and works faith in it.
Faith does not come except through the hearing and oral preaching of the Holy Gospel, in which alone, faith has its beginning, growth, strength and continuance.

For this reason the Word must not be despised , but held in honor. We must familiarize and acquaint ourselves with it, and constantly practice it, so that it never ceases to bear fruit, for it can never be understood and learned too well.
Everyone should beware of the shameless people who haven no more respect for the Word as though it were unnecessary in order for faith to exist or those who think they know it all, become tired of the Word, eventually fall from it, and retain nothing then of faith or of Christ.

So now you have all that belongs to this article of the Righteousness of Christ. It consists in the forgiveness of sins, offered to us through Christ, and received by faith in and through the Word. This happens purely and simply without any works or effort on our part. I do not mean by this that Christians should not and must not do good works. The must do them. And that must exists because our neighbor needs them, not because God needs them or wants them to be presented to him in some form. I do mean that this god pleasing visible righteousness of works should not be mingled and intertwined with the doctrine of invisible faith. Visible earthly righteousness, even though it pleases God, should not be adorned and decorated with the shameless delusion that they avail before God as righteousness., If this is taught, then both the doctrine of works and of faith are besmirched and destroyed.

Everything possible must be done to keep the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins pure, unadulterated and separate from anything at all we do.

But after we have this righteousness of faith, works are to follow and continue here on earth, so that there may be righteousness in civil society and that both be maintained, each in its proper place.

The will remain utterly separate in their nature and what they accomplish.

The righteousness of the heavenly kingdom alone in invisible faith, over and above all works, and the earthly kingdom full of works done in love to our neighbor as we said and have always taught.

Hello world!

Posted in Uncategorized by william1580 on 05/25/2010

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