Sunday, February 21, 2010

Christian Life

Take Up the Cross and Follow Him

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

--- Jesus

Jesus did not say, follow me when your life is calm and in order and all the knots have been sorted out.

I wish I have more to say but this says it all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Not your grandpa's church

You must have heard the saying: "this is not your grandfather's church".

This comment made me laugh...

...and guess what, your grandfather's church wasn't really a true Lutheran church either! It had more than a nod toward Pietistic doctrine.

---Bruce Church (no joke, I believe that is the real surname of Bruce).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Imputations, one more time

The other day, I was wondering why, when I was exchanging responses with folk who claim to be Confessional, they got amazed when I spoke about two imputations. They do not believe the Scripture speaks of two imputations.

First the imputation of our sins to Christ (2 Cor 5:21), then the imputation of His righteousness to us (Rom 3:24-24; 4:21-25) . The two are not the same and they are not simultaneous nor are they equivalent. The first happened outside my space-time. The other happens in my space-time. Then I got to read this post from Brett Meyer which quotes the BoC, it was so on target and spot on. This was taken from the Solid Declarations III.

10] These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves. 11] This faith is a gift of God, by which we truly learn to know Christ, our Redeemer, in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him, that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by God the father, and are eternally saved. 12] Therefore it is considered and understood to be the same thing when Paul says that we are justified by faith, Rom. 3, 28, or that faith is counted to us for righteousness, Rom. 4, 5, and when he says that we are made righteous by the obedience of One, Rom. 5, 19, or that by the righteousness of One justification of faith came to all men, Rom. 5, 18. 13] For faith justifies, not for this cause and reason that it is so good a work and so fair a virtue, but because it lays hold of and accepts the merit of Christ in the promise of the holy Gospel; for this must be applied and appropriated to us by faith, if we are to be justified thereby. 14] Therefore the righteousness which is imputed to faith or to the believer out of pure grace is the obedience, suffering, and resurrection of Christ, since He has made satisfaction for us to the Law, and paid for [expiated] our sins. 15]

For since Christ is not man alone, but God and man in one undivided person, He was as little subject to the Law, because He is the Lord of the Law, as He had to suffer and die as far as His person is concerned. For this reason, then, His obedience, not only in suffering and dying, but also in this, that He in our stead was voluntarily made under the Law, and fulfilled it by this obedience, is imputed to us for righteousness, so that, on account of this complete obedience, which He rendered His heavenly Father for us, by doing and suffering, in living and dying, God forgives our sins, regards us as godly and righteous, and eternally saves us. 16] This righteousness is offered us by the Holy Ghost through the Gospel and in the Sacraments, and is applied, appropriated, and received through faith, whence believers have reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins, the grace of God sonship, and heirship of eternal life.

17] Accordingly, the word justify here means to declare righteous and free from sins, and to absolve one from eternal punishment for the sake of Christ's righteousness, which is imputed by God to faith, Phil. 3, 9. For this use and understanding of this word is common in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament. Prov. 17, 15: He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord. Is. 5, 23: Woe unto them which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Rom. 8, 33: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, that is, absolves from sins and acquits
I highlighted some words for reflection specially the ones in red are a way of proving my point. I am at a loss as to why the Confessional guys I interchanged with in my blog a while ago found it rather odd of me speaking of these imputations. We might ask - the Word of the Gospel, how is this understood?
From the BoC, AP IV, 291-2
The Gospel shows another way. It compels us to use Christ in our justification. It teaches that through him we have access to God through faith and that we should set him, the mediator and propitiator, against the wrath of God. It teaches that by faith in Christ we received the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, and victory over the terrors of sin and death.
Faith alone accepts the forgiveness of sins, justifies, and regenerates...As we have already stated, we teach a man is justified when, with his conscience terrified by the preaching of penitence, he takes heart and believes that he has a gracious God for Christ's sake. This faith is accounted for righteousness before God (Rom 4:3-5)
Now look at what Walther said...found or quoted here.

C.F.W. Walther wrote in 1868: "…you often hear pastors preach, 'You are saved if you believe.' What they should be saying is, 'You are saved so that you might believe."
I thought Walther was Confessional? Huh? What is the point of faith if you are already saved? Walther seems to be saying all are saved, they just have not believed it yet. That manner of speaking is as universalistic sounding to me as anything. The Scripture speaks of all being paid for by Christ's propiation, but not all are justified/saved because not all have faith, not all are using Christ as a shield against the wrath of God, this is obvious. So I repeat what the Apology said... use our Saviour, set him against the wrath of God, against the wrath of the Law, because the wrath of the Law is still there for those who reject Christ. Outside of Christ, there is still wrath, the Scripture is not kidding. The good news is that God has provided for us his Son as the one who answers the Law for us sinners - John 3:16. So we run for safety and cover, this is the Lord Jesus.

Now have a look at what Abraham Calov said, Apodixis Articulorum Fidei ( R. Preus' Justification and Rome)?

Although Christ has acquired for us the remission of sins, justification, and sonship, God just the same does not justify us prior to our faith. Nor do we become God's children in Christ in such a way that justification in the mind of God takes place before we believe.

How is that different from Walther. Between Walther and Calov, I would go with Calov.

I thoroughly enjoyed SC III, I was salivating as I was reading it. Hope it has been a blessing.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Don't sing Sinatra's My Way...

...if you are in Manila and you still want to see tomorrow.

The national sport of Filipinos used to be baseball, then it became basketball. Now it is karaoke.

This song can literally get you killed. I was telling my pastor a long time ago that I have heard no less than 2 guys who died after singing this song in a karaoke bar. They got shot.

My pastor led me to the news here featured at The Age. It has been going on now for some time.

No one knows if these people got killed for singing My Way, their way, or horribly off tune. Another theory is that the song evokes arrogance, and that is something Manilanios love to hate.

So there you go. Skip My Way if you decide to sing karaoke.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The treasure - confessional or synodical?

I have been thinking of the means of grace again - Word and Sacrament. I have been thinking about it in relation to the common question - what about those people whom the Gospel has not reached? I thought about this relationship for only when the Gospel is proclaimed in the Word and Sacrament and the faith which Word/Sacrament latches on to what the Word/Sacrament declares, only then is the benefit of the Atonement enjoyed, forgiveness of sins and justification.

Hence, it is important to believe what the Pastor says in the absolution, in the sermon of Law and Gospel, in the giving of the Supper, that at those points, since they connect us to the Atonement, our sins are forgiven to us through faith in the promises they bring. Romans 1:16-17.

I got these Luther quotes and BoC quote from Ichabod's Thy Strong Word:
From Thy Strong Word:
"It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through Him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies yet in one pile; it is not yet distributed nor invested. Consequently, if we are to possess it, the Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe and say: I, too, am one of those who are to have this treasure. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given the treasure to us, everything goes well, and it cannot be otherwise than that man's heart rejoices in God and lifts itself up, saying: Dear Father, if it is Thy will to show toward me such great love and faithfulness, which I cannot fully fathom, then will I also love Thee with all my heart and be joyful, and cheerfully do what pleases Thee. Thus, the heart does not now look at God with evil eyes, does not imagine He will cast us into hell, as it did before the Holy Spirit came...." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 279. Pentecost Sunday. John 14:23-31.

"Faith is that my whole heart takes to itself this treasure. It is not my doing, not my presenting or giving, not my work or preparation, but that a heart comforts itself, and is perfectly confident with respect to this, namely, that God makes a present and gift to us, and not we to Him, that He sheds upon us every treasure of grace in Christ." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #48. Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 135. Heiser, p. 36.
In a nutshell, no one gets saved without Word or Sacrament.

When I was an Arminian, I heard Pentecostal preachers making faith a form of works such that it can be used to condemn you when results do not happen. For example, you lacked faith if you are not healed etc. The problem is that they corrupted the idea of faith. Rather than something that is produced by God's Word, it is something you work up, so they preached.

However, now that I am Lutheran, I hear so called "confessional" Lutherans ( in the Internet and around ) do not even want you to mention faith at all, in fact, it is somewhat spoken of in a condemnatory fashion. I suspect this is a Waltherian inspired attitude. How come? St Paul was not shy to answer the Philippian jailer when he was asked, what he should do to be saved - "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved and your household".

Whereas faith may not be necessary to be mentioned in a Law and Gospel sermon, it is also not wrong to mention it either, for the Apostles used the word and Jesus is even called the author and perfecter of our faith, correct?

Do not get me wrong, I think C. F. Walther's book - Law and Gospel book is quite helpful in some respects. I have also read some of his essays that I hmmm about. In my early walk, I did hear of a pastor or two ( I cannot remember may be they were from my synod) expressing concerns about Walther. What they said did not register with me at that time. I now have an idea why.

Honestly I have even read of folk declaring Walther to be their hero. I am now sceptical of declaring this dead guy or that, to be my hero. I now hold no sacred cows. But here is what I observe, seems to me for some "confessional" people, it is okay to disagree with Luther but you'd better not disagree with Walther or Pieper, or you are going to get it.

Huh? No offense, I do not think these guys have insights at par with Luther, or with Chemnitz etc. So today when I hear folk claiming they are "confessional", I stop and think, now does that mean they are faithful to the BoC? Or, do they mean they are faithful to the teaching of their "synodical fathers"? For frankly , "confessional" does not mean what it used to mean, it could mean, the guy is "synodical" (following the heritage of their synodical fathers).

Just thinking out loud.

God bless.