Saturday, May 27, 2006

Is Baptism a ticket?

To this question, Walther says this - from Thesis XXI of his book God's No and God's Yes.
Rom 3:28: If I am justified, if I obtain grace by my act of submitting to baptizing or by my act of going to Communion, I am justified by works, and at that altogether paltry works, scarcely worth mentioning. For that is what Baptism and Holy Communion are when viewed as works that we perform. It is a horrible doctrine, wholly contradicting the Bible, that divine grace is obtained if a person at least makes external use of the sacraments. The truth is that Baptism and Holy Communion place any person under condemnation who does not approach them with faith in his heart. They are means of grace only for the reason that a divine promise has been attached to an external symbol. Having water poured on me is of no benefit to me. Nor am I benefited by actually receiving the body and blood of the Lord. It is of paramount importance that I BELIEVE, that I regard, not the water in Baptism, but the promise which Christ has attached to the water. It is this promise that requires the water; for only to it has the promise been attached
(the emphasis is mine).

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Not an issue? But it still is.

I used to think that justification by faith is clear and not an issue in the circles I used to roam in (evangelias/charismanias) but it seems that it still is. What do I mean? I mean there is confusion surrounding this slogan as understood by modern evangelicals today. Though sola fide as a slogan is something they affirm, they, as I most of the time observe, make faith as something that man must throw into the mix so that God might justify- to them this is the Gospel. Unwittingly, faith becomes a form of works that one must exercise, otherwise God will not be moved.It is believed that it can be produced by the unbeliever, so the Gospel is understood as a proposition not a declaration, or a promise. A sort of, you scratch God's back and He will scratch yours. It is true though that faith is a condition of justification, but that demand of God is not something produced on our own but also supplied by God through the Gospel promise.

This topic is quite tricky...

A quick test question can be used to illustrate this point. Ask the question "why are you saved"? If the answer is "because I believed",
sola fide has been misunderstood as well as the Gospel. However, if the answer is "because Jesus died for me, a sinner", that is the Gospel and that is sola fide.

The issue is this - the reason salvation is through faith is because it is first by grace! Meaning, the gift has been given first- Jesus - his work, perfect life and person, his atonement - is finished. My point is this sola gratia is the reason why it is sola fide.

In the Apology of Augsburg, Article IV,54-56 we have this
54] Scripture frequently implores mercy; and the holy Fathers often say that we 55] are saved by mercy. As often, therefore, as mention is made of mercy, we must keep in mind that faith is there required, which receives the promise of mercy. And, again, as often as we speak of faith, we wish an object to be understood, namely, the promised mercy. 56] For faith justifies and saves, not on the ground that it is a work in itself worthy, but only because it receives the promised mercy

The result of putting the accent on one's faith is pride and self-righteousness, when grace is the accent - there is no room for boasting even if you have faith, because salvation is by grace first on account of Christ's work alone. Your faith contributes nothing.

I hope this information is not new to you but if it is, I hope you find security in the fact that God did all that is necessary for our salvation without any of our contribution needed.

PS. My blogging has been sparse due to the pressure of thesis writing, I could use your prayers.