Sunday, August 29, 2010

Luther on Works

Paul Althaus is considered to be the authoritative Luther scholar around. I got the following Luther quotes from his book The Theology of Martin Luther. Listen to what Luther says about the role of works...

True faith is not idle. We can therefore, ascertain and recognize those who have true faith from the effect or from what follows. WA 39I, 114; LW 34, 183

Works are a certain sign, like a seal on a letter, which makes me certain that my faith is genuine. As a result if I examine my heart and find that my works are done in love, then I am certain that my faith is genuine. WA 10III,225.

Love is evidence of faith and gives us firm and certain confidence in the mercy of God; thus we are commended to make our calling certain by good works (II Peter 1:10). WA 39II,248.

Works assure us and bear witness before men and the brethren and even before our own selves that we truly believe and that we are sons of God in hope and heirs of eternal life. WA 39I, 293.

I went to Althaus' book after I listened to some pastor being interviewed. Clearly, according to Althaus, Luther considered the certainty of salvation as partially dependent on this new obedience. It is sad when Lutheranism is portrayed by its own adherents as if it was antinomian. Luther, the name from which the denomination got its name, was none of that.


Gregory L. Jackson said...

I have to confess to never reading Althouse. I have owned one or two of his books but never got going on them. Some Lutherans do get confused on this, so I will reflect Luther's sermons rather than your book. Luther often spoke about good works being the fruit of faith and salvation. He suggested that we examine our repentance if we are lacking in good works. He urged them upon his congregation. In one of the Christmas sermons he scolded people for saying they would have changed the diapers of baby Jesus, yet they would not help their neighbors. There he reflected perfectly the Last Judgment parable of Jesus.

LPC said...

Pr. Greg,

Althaus footnoted Luther in the book as I quoted his quotes of Luther from WA.

My point is that Luther believed in 2 Peter 1:10, or as Brett often quotes - 2 Corinthians 13:5, which some pastors do not even like to us to do.

Somehow there must be some qualitative change in the believer, for example, from lack of faith to presence of faith, from not warring with sin, to now being in fight against it.


Gregory L. Jackson said...

That is so true, LP. UOJ sees the Christian life as all forgiven, so there is a constant stream of self-absolution, no change.

The efficacy of the Word means that the Gospel permeates our entire lives, just as good leaven fills the dough (Matthew 13). Luther wrote about this in his Large Catechism, that we become more generous, more patient, more forgiving.

The false absolution from false teachers has encouraged a string of scandals that are beginning to erupt. I believe we can conclude that someone who engages in grotesque sins has already become an apostate. Those who cover for them are apostates-in-fellowship.

When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith?

LPC said...

Pr. Greg,

I believe we can conclude that someone who engages in grotesque sins has already become an apostate. Those who cover for them are apostates-in-fellowship

I so believe this too! Sin is trivialized. Does this not lead to a seared conscience?

What I often wonder is that UOJ pastors do not seem to take seriously that Luther believed that there are hypocrites in the Church, that is, people who believe they are saved by their works and deny JBFA. The UOJ pastor does not care about this because - who cares if the fellow believe in works salvation, he is forgiven anyway, no? The minister treats everyone a Christian and a child of God even though the fellow may not have been baptized or believe.

LPC said...

Also sincere pastors who have not weighed in the issues (does not even bother to read Ichabod) are left under the thumb of the devil, the devil just wrecks havoc in church, runs rings around the pastor for after all, does not theology lead to practice?


Gregory L. Jackson said...

The UOJ pastors are Pietists who imagine they are Lutherans. Nominal membership does not make them Lutheran in doctrine. Their judgment is conditioned by who is elite and who must be shunned. This inevitably corrupts their organizations, because the elite are absolved for the most heinous crimes while the Untouchables are sent empty away for daring to question those evils.

LPC said...

Pr Greg,

It is a good thing that you left the organization then you can be true to your calling and be prophetic in your speech. I do think your insights are quite prophetic - i.e. calling people to repentance.

Just my observation, those who shun Ichabod, are generally people who are politicians. Neither do they have capacity for discernment.


WELS church lady said...

Hello LP! Long time, no talk. Too many Paul T McCain comments. Also, a few new confesssional blogs have been taking up my time.

I remember some months back that we talked about Althaus. In the one book(forgive me, I lost my notes as My computer as moved downstairs) Althaus was very faithful to Luthers Works and kept the purity of the Scriptures. Do you recall me discussing another book written by Althaus? Unfortunately the said book contained UOJ teaching. In the one book Luther's Works were his guide. In the other Althaus side-steps into his own thoughts. You can view the pages of both books(he wrote some other things, yet these two are the most known) on line.

Do not forget the bad news....he was a Hitler supporter. Never the less, the "Christ's Work"(proper translated title?) is a fine book and ranks high in its confessional stance and Althaus is commended for such faith. God only knows if he later confessed that Hitler was WRONG. Maybe there is some documentaion on this issue.

In Christ,
from WELS church lady

LPC said...

Hi Church Lady,

Yes I do remember your writing about Althaus. At least he was faithful to let Luther speak for himself.

In the quotes I provided, I copied it from his footnotes where he would quote Luther's words.

I think why he is considered a Luther expert is because he was fair in letting Luther speak for himself.

In the Theology of Martin Luther which he wrote, I went to Luthers' section The Righteousness of Faith. I found no hint nor suggestion of any UOJ. You would think that such a thing would be so obvious but I found none of that.

God bless,


Steve said...

I do not look at my works as evidence of my faith. I care what Luther said about it. I love Luther, but I do not care for everything he said.(I don't know anyone that does).

The scriptures tell me that all my "righteous deeds are filthy rags". Our motives are tainted. I never met a pure motive yet. And the Turk or the Hindu is capable of "good works" as well.

I rather trust in what He has done for me. When I need evidence, I return to my baptism and I eat and drink His body and blood and I listen to His promises.

Of course good works will follow faith. But none of us can (with certainty) point to them, outside of confessing Christ.

Thanks much!

LPC said...


I rather trust in what He has done for me. When I need evidence, I return to my baptism and I eat and drink His body and blood and I listen to His promises

This is true and I also do the same. Luther is not our Pope.

However, it just shows how many Lutherans are unconscious of what Luther believed and how they really differed with Luther in the practicalities of Christianity.

Luther used many things to detect faith both external which is the Word - visible and invisible and internal - meaning the works that followed faith.

As Althaus said, Luther did use works as a partial detection for faith.

Steve, if by this post you realized how much you are different from Luther in your practice of the faith, then the post has served its purpose.

Jesus did say, by their fruits you shall know them.

In so far as Luther gets the Bible right on issues crucial to salvation, I have to respect his wisdom for clearly in the quotes I gave he was basing his practice from Scripture. 2Peter 1:10.


Steve said... are you doing?

Are you sure you are doing enough...and for the right reasons?

Can anyone be sure?

No. This is why we do not trust in our works as the yardstick of our faith, or worse yet...look at others and start to measure them that way too, which is a natural outcome of that way of thinking.

Just a question... do you agree with everything that Luther said?

LPC said...


Firstly Luther is not saying that we are saved by works. What he is saying is that a person who is saved has his works follow him.

I do not agree with everything that Luther has said, but in the case of this issue on ascertaining salvation he does agree with The Epistle of James., that is distinguishing true saving faith vs the faith of the devil.

For example, did you ever think of loving your enemies before you believe? Are you now considering this? Hence, there is a qualitative change. As I said, Luther looks at this 'partially'. It is not the entire story of certainty. It is only partial, but to say that this is not even a factor at all is not fully Scriptural.

The position you are espousing denies the point of Luther, correct? I mean you believe Luther was wrong here right?

The question is not that our works should be perfect but the question is if our works follow. Hence there is works no matter how imperfect.

On this issue Luther has a point because even Jesus himself says by their fruits you shall *know* them.

The BoC speaks of our works being imperfect, however it also says that there are works that come from faith.

Do you believe there are hypocrites in the church? Do you believe there are false professors in the church?

Steve I think you are interpreting the word 'works' wrongly. When works are mentioned, your immediate interjection is 'are you working enough', this misses the point of Luther.

The believer's faith is working, and yes it is not working enough! But it is working nevertheless.

Jesus parable of the Master returning commends his slaves' faithfulness not if they have worked a lot.

As I said, if you are converted you will have a qualitative change in your life, I did not say you will have a quantitative change.

For indeed everyone does some work, the issue is the source of those works. For the CHristian, the source of his works is faith in Christ, for faith in Christ is justification.

I think before we kick out Luther's insights we should first devote time studying what they are. I am pretty sure his Lutheranism is not the same as ours.


Steve said...

The wrong focus.

Yes, there will be works, as surely as the sun rises in the East.

Can anyone name them (Christian works)? No.

Works talk begets legalism.

That is why Luther called the Epistle of James "the epistle of straw".

"What is it to do the works of the Father" they asked Jesus. "Believe in the one whom He has sent."

That always ought be the emphasis.

LPC said...


Can you un-equivocally answer my question, do you believe that Luther was absolutely wrong in this case?

So which part of Luther's theology you agree with? Can you give also an example?

The focus is to believe, but that begs also the question, how do you know you believe? This I think was what Luther was getting at. He was asking the question how one's faith can be genuine.

You say that works follow but we are not to look at it, which then effectively says, you may or may not have works - but no matter, you are ok anyway.

Rather, if I am bothered that I may have no works, it indeed will drive me back to faith which then will produce the work.

I do not believe it is a bad thing to be agitated that I may not be a believer. There are people who are not agitated but will wind up in hell.

What I am doing in this post is to grant Luther the point. When I read the quotes, I say - fair enough.

Also my intent is to show how Luther is quite different in his theology than many Lutheran out there.


David Cochrane said...

First, In my years of attending Lutheran churches I have never heard it proclaimed "you are saved live anyway you want"

Second, Merely footnoting any teacher or preacher you can end up with any misunderstanding of his teaching. This done to Jesus all the time.

Finally I would suggest one refer to Luther's Heidelberg Disputation to see what he also said of the works of the righteous.

This is the problem with removing the objective nature of the work of Jesus. It drives us back into ourselves to determine whether we are saved. So instead of Extra Nos we have incurvatus en se the seat of all sin.

pax doimi. †

Steve said...

The problem here is that no one need goad the faithful into good works, especially when you tell them that it is evidence of their faith. Now, you have just made good works into another law.

Does not the Holy Spirit inspire us to good works, apart from the law?

When you place into people's heads that they need to be doing X,Y, or Z, for evidence that they are Christians, then you have just returned to Rome, or become a Baptist/Calvinist.

Can you honestly say that if an observer followed you around 24 hrs a day for a few days or a week, that they would conclude that you are a Christian, based on the good works and selflessness that they've seen in you? If they follwed me around, they would probably say that I am definitely NOT a Christian (if works were the test).

Yes the believer does good works, that is a given...but no one can name a "Christian good work". There are muslims and hindus and atheists that are much better at it than many Christians. So what?

What we need to do is to deliver the Promises of God in Christ Jesus and His Sacraments, and leave the fruit inspecting to the heretics.

Steve said...

"This is the problem with removing the objective nature of the work of Jesus. It drives us back into ourselves to determine whether we are saved. So instead of Extra Nos we have incurvatus en se the seat of all sin."

Very well said, David.

LPC said...


Firstly Althaus' treatment is there for you to read in his book. That is the problem, there is the evidence and no one wants to look at it. Althaus placed the footnotes for the reader to see for himself, if he (Althaus) was representing Luther accurately and he did.

Luther distinguished works for salvation which he denied (Heidelberg Disputation), but he affirmed works as fruit of salvation he affirmed so Luther was not being inconsistent.

The truth is that Lutheran who claim that for their name is at odds with Luther! That is my point and the evidence I have are the comments here.

No thinking teacher, will say "you are saved live anyway you want", of course not. Are we naive. Does a false teacher announce himself and say - you all beware now, I am a false teacher! Does the thief announce his coming?

But where could this be taught? In other areas of teaching, it is in the consequences of what is taught.

David, I am merely reporting what he believed. The reason why I picked on Althaus is that scholarship today considers him to be an expert when it comes to Luther's theology.

That is why when I read him, I said to myself, fair enough. I get his point and he is taking overall teaching of Scripture. Read the quote yourself, was Althaus wrong in intepreting Luther's teaching on this?

Was Luther wrong?

So now you have 3 people you have to say who are wrong, Luther, Althaus and me.

But that is fair, if you have Scripture to back.

Gregory L. Jackson said...

All the issues are covered here:

Steve said...


Be honest (with yourself). Are you doing enough good works, and with the proper motivation (no self interest)to know that you really are a Christian?

Steve said...

Until we get your answer on if you are doing enough as evidence of your belief...I thought a couple more quotes from Luther are appropos:

"All the genuine sacred books agree on this, that all of them preach Christ and deal with Hinl. That is the true test by which to judge all books, when we see whether they deal with Christ or not, since all the Scriptures show us Christ (Ronl ~1) and St. 1)au1 will know nothing but Christ (1 Cor 2). What does not teach Christ is not apostolic, even though St. Peter or St. Paul taught it" (/..l W~)5::·~96).

And this one, "If they use the Scriptures against Christ, we will use Christ against the Scriptures."

That also applies to any other documents, as well.

LPC said...


If you are asking if there was a change in me, I would say so. I am not saying I am a victorious Christian, but that is not the point, I am not using my works to buy my salvation.

Steve, you are not categorically answering my question, was Luther wrong in what he said?

Listen to what Luther said Thus faith is a divine work in us, that changes us and regenerates us of God, and puts to death the old Adam, makes us entirely different men in heart, spirit, mind, and all powers, and brings with it [confers] the Holy Ghost. Oh, it is a living, busy, active, powerful thing that we have in faith, so that it is impossible for it not to do good without ceasing. 11] Nor does it ask whether good works are to be done; but before the question is asked, it has wrought them, and is always engaged in doing them. But he who does not do such works is void of faith, and gropes and looks about after faith and good works, and knows neither what faith nor what good works are, yet babbles and prates with many words concerning faith and good works. 12] [Justifying] faith is a living, bold [firm] trust in God's grace, so certain that a man would die a thousand times for it [rather than suffer this trust to be wrested from him]. And this trust and knowledge of divine grace renders joyful, fearless, and cheerful towards God and all creatures, which [joy and cheerfulness] the Holy Ghost works through faith; and on account of this, man becomes ready and cheerful, without coercion, to do good to every one, to serve every one, and to suffer everything for love and praise to God, who has conferred this grace on him, so that it is impossible to separate works from faith, yea, just as impossible as it is for heat and light to be separated from fire.

Here is what I notice with Lutheran people over there, first I observe, they are allergic to the word "faith". Now I see they are allergic to another word - "works".

I do not only look at my works, as it is partial, there are other things I look for, the Word and the Sacraments. However, my problem is that you won't even grant Luther the point. Instead you object to him on this issue, I find this stance quite un-Lutheran and frankly Steve, I find such a position arrogant. Why don't we agree that he said these words and why don't we agree that you disapprove of it while I do.

You talk about Scripture here they are...
Mt 7:15 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.


LPC said...


I would be a Baptist/Calvinist if my works is the only one that I look at for my evidence of faith, but I do not do that, learning from Luther, overall he looked at both internal and external evidences.

My problem is that you applaud the Word and Sacraments and yet you deny or do not discern its effects. If not that, you effectively make it irrelevant as it is unknown.

Here is another Scripture 2 Cor 13 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

I am asking you and David this question, has Luther removed the objective nature of the work of Jesus?

If you believe Luther was wrong, why not say so un-equivocally? You already admitted that in other places but not admitted and accuse him of falsehood on this issue.

That is what I am asking. I understand your explanation and they are good, now I want your direct accusation or even condemnation of Luther on this point.



Steve said...

I am answering your question by asking you the question about your good works and how much assurance you place in them.

Yes, I'll say it. Luther was wrong to the extent that he emphasized looking at the self and our works as a measure of our being a Christian or not.

A lot of Muslims lives changed also (for the better) when they began to follow allah.

You speak of arrogance. Look in the mirror, LP. Frankly, my friend, you are starting to sound like the Pharisee in the temple.

That is another parable that might make you take a second look at this.

LPC said...


Thanks for being frank about Luther.

I now answer your question, you asked have my good works done enough? No my good works is not enough.

I agree with you Muslims and Mormons can point to a changed life too. Cults can point to changed life too. I think you are saying we cannot look at changed life because cults are doing that. Hence, a changed life is obsolete.

If cults can point to a change life, the Christian should have it no less because he has the truth.

Did your life not change when you abandoned Catholicism? When you found faith in the Gospel? Your blogging and articulating the gospel, is that not a good work? If you say it is not a good work then you should repent and renounce what you have written in your posts.

Even Jesus said that the world will know you are my disciples by the way you love your brother.

What I read in Luther is that there are internal and external evidences of faith. I hear you as espousing a false dichotomy in saying that if you look at one you cannot look at the other, but Luther's approach is both.


David Cochrane said...

To save you a trip on the net here is the Heidelberg Disputation of Martin Luther 7-11

The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God. [7]

By so much more are the works of man mortal sins when they are done without fear and in unadulterated, evil self-security. [8]

To say that works without Christ are dead, but not mortal, appears to constitute a perilous surrender of the fear of God. [9]

Indeed, it is very difficult to see how a work can be dead and at the same time not a harmful and mortal sin. [10]

Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work. [11]

So are you saying Luther, as footnoted by Althaus, wrong or was he wrong in the Diputation? Both or neither. Could Althaus and you be wrong in this instance? Could I be wrong in this and every instance? Yes.

Now you say a false teacher will not speak his false teaching. Well how on earth do we know his falseness if he never teaches it? Can we examine the heart and mind of the teacher?

And you are, brother Lito, sounding a lot like the baptocalvinism of my youth and later prebyterianism. Always pointing at works and changed lives for evidence of salvation. This is necessary when one limits the work of Jesus from for everyone to a few.

Again, the fruit of this work is received thru faith. One does not trust Jesus one is condemned and under the wrath of God. Jn 3:18,36 It need be no more confusing than that.

pax domini. †

After I am done reading some works by Chemnitz ill check out Althaus. Thank you for the suggestion.

LPC said...


What is happening is you are putting against my Luther quote your Luther quotes.

If you are correct and I am wrong, the best we can conclude is that Luther was inconsistent. I do not think so for in the HD, he was discussing works for Salvation and not works as fruit of Salvation.

Pr. Greg is quite right on the BoC, I recommend you read his blog for balanced reporting...

So I quote to you the BoC itself that supports what Luther said in this regard...

In SD.IV. 38] However, it by no means follows thence that we are to say simpliciter and flatly: Good works are injurious to believers for or as regards their salvation; for in believers good works are indications of salvation when they are done propter veras causas et ad veros fines (from true causes and for true ends), that is, in the sense in which God requires them of the regenerate, Phil. 1:20; for it is God's will and express command that believers should do good works, which the Holy Ghost works in believers, and with which God is pleased for Christ's sake, and to which He promises a glorious reward in this life and the life to come.

Please read the bolded words, specially when it says good works are indicators of salvation!

Open up your eyes.

David, I am not being BaptiCalvinist, I was once one. However, antinomianism is an equally dangerous mind set that should equally be avoided of which those BaptiCalvinist refugees to Lutheranism are led to believe, since they have been burned by the Law preaching in BaptiCalvinist circles, they throw the baby with the bath water.

What good is that, you avoided BaptiCalvinism but you wind up in Universalism and Antinomianism? That is like jumping from the frying pan and into the fire.

Steve was man enough and fair enough to call Luther in error in saying those quotes. Can I hear an amen from you in this regard?

I disagree with Luther in other quotes, but this is not one of them.

By all means, please be fair and honest enough to disagree with the quotes I gave, just do it without equivocation.


LPC said...



Try not to be emotional on this one bro, it gets in the way of the truth.

You said...Now you say a false teacher will not speak his false teaching. Well how on earth do we know his falseness if he never teaches it? Can we examine the heart and mind of the teacher?

Did you read what I said, or did you react knee jerk?

I said no thinking false teacher will announce he is a false teacher! I did not say he does not teach. Far from it.

He does not go around admitting and warning people about him - he does not say "hey people, now you all be warned, I am a false teacher"! I did not say he does not teach! He does teach and the way to see a false teacher is looking at the teaching against Scripture and the fruit of his teachings!


Steve said...

I did some good woks today (moved my brother-in-law). But I did them right alongside non-believers.

I find no assurance of my faith in those works. None.

I love Luther. But to the extent that ANYONE plants that seed in the brain and heart of man, that they can know they are really saved, because of what "they DO"...I wish them a case of amensia (that they even know Christ) until they reconsider the Word and Sacraments and realize that "He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion.

Place the emphasis on faith (trust) and not on works (that are there anyway)...and then I'm with you all the way.

LPC said...


Did yo see my quotation of the BoC on Good Works? Did you see that in Solid Declaration works are said to be indicators of faith? Please see above my comment to David.

I take it you will disagree with the BoC on this, correct? I think I read in someplace you do not subscribe to it in total.

However, I do admire you for being honest, frank and bold to disagree with the BoC and with Luther!

Now I am just wondering if David has the same guts ;-)

All I can say is that you and David have some Lutheranism but it is not Orthodox BoC Lutheranism, it is something else. I think it is Waltherian.

I think you will readily concede that right, since I think your local church is not LC-MS, correct?

Steve said...

The BoC was (is) great. But it could have been better.

The BoC didn't fall from Heaven with a bow wrapped around it, either.

We preach Christ crucified for sinners.

No, we are not LC-MS and we don't have very much to do with ELCA either. A pocks on both their houses. One falls off the horse on one side and the other falls off on the other. We try and stay centered on Christ, and what He has done, is doing, and will yet do for us.

Check out our re-vamped website, with a couple of provocative articles.

Thanks, LPC!

- Steve

LPC said...


Though I disagree with you on the BoC, I absolutely admire your candor and honesty.

In some way, you are not another sausage ;-). I disagree with you but your attitude is a breath of fresh air.

Historically the composition of our Synod came from a couple of big factions, but mostly there were individual local independent Lutheran churches too.

Historically my church found

was an independent Lutheran church. My pastor suggested I may not exactly be at home with my synod and that it might be God's will for me to be independent also (should I start a church).


Steve said...

Thanks LPC!

You are a good egg, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Heck, I don't even agree with my pastor on everything about the faith.

I'm probably wrong. But what else is new?

Keep up the good work, my friend.

- Steve

Steve said...

That is a great little church!

I'm sure there is much more happening there in all the mega-barns in So. Cal.

"Where 2 or 3 are gathered..."

Thanks for sharing!

David Cochrane said...


Do you no longer trust that one is a full child of God in baptism? How many good works will a baby need to trust in so he or she is part of the family of God? When we were raising our children how many good works did they need to trust in to know they were part of our family? If we say they needed no good works to trust they are part of our family are we more gracious parent than our Father in heaven? God forbid.

pax domini. †

LPC said...


Very sad, you are missing the point on this one. Steve was bold enough, he got the point and he puts his bets against Luther's insights.

I admire him for that.

Read again what I wrote in these comments, Luther looked at fruit of salvation as well as the means of grace.

I presented to you that even the BoC agrees with Luther, that works are also indicators of salvation, not the cause of course, but the effect.

Walterianism should be exorcised from BaptiCalvists refugees to Lutheranism. Because what they get is half baked and not orthodox BoC Lutheranism.

That is my point.


David Cochrane said...


This teaching you have learned is ending up in the very same place I feared it would. You can no longer trust in the strong promises associated with word and Sacrament. That is the result when one limits the work of Jesus one has to look to self in some way.

Works are incidental to faith but in no way are to be viewed as assurance. Luther in his Heidelberg Disputation states they are to be viewed as sin. Why sin? For viewing them in any other way will produce pride and takes our eyes off Jesus the pioneer and finisher of our faith.

Indeed to refuse to do what God requires and to remain impenitent shows one is straying from faith. This is firmly proclaimed from the pulpits in our churches. Each one? Sadly no. That is no indication that the LCMS is anywhere near Theologically Bankrupt as some say.

Perhaps the good deed of obeying the 8th command and trying to put the best construction on things would be a good move. Do this rather than to assume and say the very worse possible thing is more along the commandment's requirement.

And I am the furthest possible distance away from an antinomian. I love God's law and it is my meditation all the day. I will match my Christian walk and civic duty doing against anyone if that is proper. However, I still fall far far short of the glory of Jesus. One of the glories of living for eternity with Jesus will be the total absence of sin.

pax domini. †

LPC said...


I am frustrated at these comments.
1.) I showed you what Luther said
2.) I showed you what the BoC said

Then you keep on arguing around the quotes I gave in this discussion. This does not impress me and only affirms my observation, that what you guys are in, is not BoC Lutheranism but a skewed one.

Look at what you said You can no longer trust in the strong promises associated with word and Sacrament. That is the result when one limits the work of Jesus one has to look to self in some way

As I said, Luther looked at the means of grace and looked at the fruits of faith. You have a false dichotomy here. Luther as per Althaus also said that he considered works a partial indicator, but an indicator never the less. Luther looked at his baptism! Yet he said these words too!

Here is what you guys had just like I had - BaptiCalvinist being burned by the Law found solace in universal objective justification UOJ, which is sophistic universalism mixing justification by faith declaring and believing that everyone is already forgiven at the cross though the world has not believed in the Atonement.

What I am at is going back to what Luther and the BoC said about fruits of salvation.

This is why in this case David, I got more mileage with Steve, he said - he disagreed with Luther and the BoC. He was unequivocal, however you are.

Just tell me plainly if you agree or disagree with Luther and the BoC in these quotes. Your explanations are not categorical statements I can bank on.

We are not talking if your works are far short because they are yet the BoC says that your works since it is coming from faith is acceptable to God though they are imperfect and impure.


steve said...

This is a short post (and a new one) that pertains to this discussion:

steve said...

I said I disagreed with Luther and the BoC in this matter, insofar as anyone would start to look at their works as assurance that they are truly Christians.

Luther was great, but still a sinful man. The BoC is great, but not Holy Scripture, put together by sinful men at a time of great compromise with the power in the world at that time (the RC Church).

Insofar as ANYONE or ANYTHING has us look to ourselves as evidence of our salvation, I'll stand with David, and many other Lutherans against that heresy.

LPC said...


I admire your calling Luther and the BoC heretical on this issue.

Unfortunately I think David claims to be a "confessional" Lutheran, of which I ask what is he confessing?He he confesses like you that the BoC was wrong and so was Luther on this issue.

So, I hope he does not use the label "confessing" Lutheran as a referent to himself on this.

I am just after candor and clarity of position.


David Cochrane said...


I do not know about how it is in Australia. Here in the usa we have plenty of unbelievers who are well behaved and take great comfort at it. Perhaps also in the time of Luther and the BOC there were stark contrasts between the behaviour of unbelievers and believers. But here we are still living on the memory of a more gentle age in civic behaviour. When you see a good worker, family man, civic minded individual who also feeds the poor you dont know if you have a Christian or a moral Atheist.

Yes a changed life for a person saved out of debauchery, drunkeness and cruelty will be early signs of faith. However, for those of us who were raised in the faith we may not see that change. What we see is rather covetousness, anger, envy and strife internally and this seldom improves with age. Also years into the Christians life little improvement shows up after the gross outward acts cease or even the desire to do them is absent. To what do we look at? All those items are indeed partial detection of faith but not items in which to trust. The strong promises of baptism not baptism plus other things are we to trust to know we are adopted into the family of God.

pax domini. †

LPC said...


That is not the issue for human beings are the same all over the place.

The issue I ask you is this... do you agree with the Luther quote I gave?

Do you agree with the BoC quote I gave.

Steve found the Luther and BoC quote heretical.

Do you agree with Steve?

All over the place the BoC affirms that there is a qualitative thing that happens on the converted.

I do not know why people there insists they are Confessional when they a.) not aware of what the BoC says, and then b.) when a quote is given from the BoC is presented, they turn around and attack it.

It is just lip service, if I may say.

My thesis to you is that many BaptiCalvino converts to Lutheranism a.) do not go to the BoC first, b.) they go to the writings of Walther and Pieper trusting that their insights represent orthodox Lutheranism.

I fell into this trap myself. Now I am holding off my horses and wrestle to what plainly the BoC says as it explains Scripture.

Hence when the BOC quote is given to them or a Luther quote that matches it, they really are at odds to what the BoC states.

So a person examining Lutheranism who listens to these Waltherians then look at the BoC get confused and wonder where Lutheranism is.


Steven Goodrich said...

Hey Lito,

This may surprise you, but I agree with you. Here's a quote from a sermon by Luther:

2. Thus we err on both sides in saying, a person must only believe, then he will neglect to do good works and bring forth good fruits. Again, if you preach works, the people immediately comfort themselves and trust in works. Therefore we must walk upon the common path. Faith alone must make us good and save us. But to know whether faith is right and true, you must show it by your works. God cannot endure your dissembling, for this reason he has appointed you a sermon which praises works, which are only witnesses that you believe, and must be performed not thereby to merit anything, but they should be done freely and gratuitously toward our neighbor.

Here's a link to the sermon:

LPC said...


At last a UOJer who agrees with my post!

All I am after is being brutal with the truth and wrestling with what the Scripture says and what the BoC expounds!

Absolutely, Luther looks at both, and he can also say "I am baptized" when doubts assailed him!

OK I am going to be plain on our UOJ differences, but we can discuss this some other time.

The faith that believes that Jesus died for your sins, paying for them, this faith in the Atonement, the BoC and Luther calls justification!

Justification is NOT faith in the fact that you are already Justified.

Justification is faith in the fact that you have been Atoned for as Scripture says! In this faith that believes in the Atonement of Jesus - Scripture says, God counts/imputes the righteousness of Christ.

We can do this to death next time, but I am encouraged that somehow you get my point on the BoC and Luther quotes.


steve said...

Like I said before. You can find plenty in Luther.

Yes the Christian does good works (a given).

Yes, no one can name them (for sure) since no one knows the heart or the motivation).

So why even bring this up? Yo have 'works' be on the brain of some poor soul who needs comfort and assurance?

I say let the poor soul return again and again to the Word and Sacraments for his assurance and comfort.

Steven Goodrich said...

Lito, first you are just simply wrong in your assessment that kind of teaching comes from Walther.

From a sermon from Walther:


They are:

1. When our Faith is Founded upon God's Word Alone;
2. When it is Joined to a Living Experience of the Heart; and
3. When it is Manifested by a New Holy Mind and Life.
Here is a link to the sermon:

I do think that it is important to note that when we are in despair b/c our works or lack there of testify against us, we don't try to do some good works to prove that we actually have faith or deny that we have lost the faith. We repent of our sin and return to the promises of God in Christ Jesus by confessing our sin and receiving absolution. Absolution is nothing else then present application of the promises of God in Christ that we received in baptism.

LPC said...


I could be wrong but I normally suspect Waltherism because
a.) In his fight against revivalism, he swung too far
b.) I think he is responsible for the fragmentation in Lutheranism in USA.

I grant you the point when you quote Walther to me.

However, his UOJ promotion is still wrong as far as I am concerned, he taught the automatic absolution of the world. See my quote of Ambrosiaster.


LPC said...


You said .So why even bring this up? Yo have 'works' be on the brain of some poor soul who needs comfort and assurance?

Only those who are repentant need assurance. I as a Lutheran will not assure the wicked, i.e., the unbeliever. That would be anti-nomian.

It is being brought up because a.) The BoC brings it up, and b.) Luther brought it up.

Steve, at least you can say for yourself that you are not-a-BoC Lutheran, right?


steve said...


That would be like saying that I am not a Bible believing Lutheran because because I don't emphasize certain law passages in the bible.

The Reformation was all about geting people off the religious ladder. The way you are reading Luther (here) puts people back on the ladder. That is the last thing Luther would want.

It's all a matter of emphasis.

We do not emhasize looking at our works as proof of our faith. That is law. The Holy Spirit uses law to show us our need of a Savior...not to make us Holy.

What ought be emphasized is not our works, but His. That is Lutheranism.

LPC said...


Your arrogance is so much Theology of Glory. Read the quote, sorry to say but that speaks way off of what Luther also believed.

Lutheranism looks at the truth and agrees with it, you seem to duck at what Luther or what the BoC says.

You admitted you disagreed with the BoC and so, it is safe to say you are no BoC Lutheran. In fact you suggested the quote to be heretical. Look at your comments.

Why would I admire your candor? And also the arrogance? If not that?

Emphasis? BoC says both, and so did Luther, that is a sad truth and it does not complies with your understanding, but let the record stand.


steve said...

My arrogance???

That's funny!

I'm to preserve the free gift of the gospel...and you are trying to advocate a 'Christ +' (+ our works).

That, my friend, is not the gospel...but another gospel.

If that makes me arrogant, then yes, I am arrogant.

LPC said...


You know that I used to say the same things that you say today. We were on this together!!!

However, your position will confuse the Bapti-Calvinist/Evangelical looking at Lutheranism who happens to examine the BoC. Looking at your position which skirts through works which are evidences of genuine faith, and looking at the BoC, they will scratch their heads and say - here is a Lutheran who does not even respect nor believes in what the BoC says!

It is quite arrogant of you to suggest that the BoC is wrong on this issue. That is my point.

Because that means you have not weighed heavily the doctrines found in the BoC which 8000 Lutheran pastors of 1580 signed their names onto and were persecuted for it!

I used to say what you are saying.

But we must be fair with the evidence, examining the BoC and what it says, the BoC agrees with Luther, that works do not merit salvation, but they are indeed indicators of true faith in the Gospel!!!!

Now your saying .and you are trying to advocate a 'Christ +' (+ our works). is not good. You are misrepresenting me.

I have not discussed the necessity of good works, at this stage I have quoted Luther and the BoC but that they follow from salvation, follows from faith, qualitatively.

Further the BoC states... However, since Christians should not be deterred from good works, but should be admonished and urged thereto most diligently, ...

Steve, a denial that works indicates salvation as the BoC says makes you guilty of Epicureanism, which the BoC condemns. In effect, an anti-nomian.

Are you aware of that? Maybe not since, you have not read it nor have given it some respect.

Your disappointed friend,


steve said...

I'll quote Luther again, "If they use the Scriptures against Christ, we will use Christ against the Scriptures."

That goes for the BoC, the Bible, Luther, St. Paul, my own pastor, or myself.

I think I've said about all I know how to say on this one, L.P..

We are starting to chase our tail here.


Steven Goodrich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gregory L. Jackson said...

Lenski uses a good term, which clarifies the discussion - works of faith. Luther urges both sound doctrine and works of faith. To illustrate by contrast, some use the Gospel and their "orthodox" membership to justify all kinds of evil, even covering up murder and adultery. Works of faith follow sincere trust in the Gospel, while false Christians pay lip service and demonstrate contempt for their neighbors. I tend to use fruits of the Spirit, but I like "works of faith.

Works of faith should not be confused with works of righteousness. They do not earn salvation but come from the effect of forgiveness and salvation. "When we see Thee naked, and clothe Thee?"

LPC said...

Pr. Greg,

I also like the term "works of faith" which is an explanation of the fruit of the Spirit. Faith in the Gospel has the fruit of the Spirit coming out of it.

Jesus came to Zachaeus' home, a tax collector shunned by people, in gratitude Zachaeus returns the money he took.

Faith in the Gospel is a miraculous faith that is why it produces the fruits of its author - the Holy Spirit.

UOJers are allergic to faith, charging it is a work if you speak about it, they are also allergic to works, charging that you are being a Pharissee or trusting it for salvation if you mention it.


LPC said...


I recommend this post...