Sunday, May 15, 2011

Faith Receives

I was reading my Bible last night and I so happened to be at Acts 10:

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they[e] killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.

I was arrested by these words as I recalled how the BoC spoke of how faith receives as well. For example in AC, XX
28] It is only by faith that forgiveness of sins is apprehended, and that, for nothing. 29] And because through faith the Holy Ghost is received, hearts are renewed and endowed with new affections, so as to be able to bring forth good works

So I started to meditate on this for a bit - faith receives, faith receives, faith receives.

Hmm, the object of faith is Christ but what is received is the forgiveness of sins.

My mind went back home and I reminded my self of how in my home culture, whenever there is a wedding, it is customary for the bride and groom to give their guests a small souvenir, a small giveaway so to speak as a token of appreciation of their coming. The above picture is a sample of that.

So how do the guests receive the souvenir? They simply turn up at the wedding - go through and witness the ceremony and eat with the bride and groom. The receiving of the souvenir is the effect of being in the wedding.

I should not stress too far the analogy but in the wedding scenario, the guests focus their attention on the wedding - on the bride and groom but that results in getting a gift. I thought the analogy somehow was appropriate and useful.


LutherRocks said...

'Receives' is the only word in the English language that works. And that is so important. Many translations use the word 'accepts'. This is tragic since it infers some kind of action on the part of the receiver.

Nice post, Lito.


LPC said...


Thanks bro. I actually did not expect any comments for this post.

It is a marvelous thing about JBFA. God works faith in us in the atonement of Christ and that faith receives the forgiveness of sins. The object of faith is Christ's work but what that faith gets is justification.

"accept" does not render it well, I whole heartily agree.

Reading that passage clicked for me why the BoC speaks the same way as Scripture, that faith receives the benefit of atonement.

Old Lutheran father Quenstedt did say that justification is the effect of Jesus' office.

God bless,


Gregory L. Jackson said...

Joe is right. In America, at least, "accept" is associated with making a decision, an act of will. The Greek verb lambano means to receive. The rite of membership in the Disciples of Christ Church (in one parish) of saying, "I accept Christ as my personal Savior." (Nothing was said about impersonal Saviors. The jury is still out on that one, I guess.) One of the famous feminist gasbags of literature was famous for saying, "O world, I accept thee." One wit said, "She better."

So receive is the best English word to translate the Biblical concept. If we examine some of the synodical conference language, it varies from semi-Pelagianism (making a decision, JP Meyer) to demi-semi-Pelagianism (faith is a withered hand that grasps the Gospel - still an act of the will).

I do go on sometimes. I am thankful that the UOJ have exposed their flank by railing against faith, which is a good thing in the Bible. The more we look at justification by faith as taught by Luther, the Concordists, and the post-Concordists like Calov, the worser the UOJ fanatics appear.

LPC said...

Pr Greg,

When I wrote this post I knew those who think I went off the rails because I railed against UOJ would be quiet. They do not see the subtle difference in the object of faith between JBFA and UOJ.

Receive has a passive sense in the above context. My mind goes back to our wedding practice, the couple goes around the table where the guests are seated and hand over the giveaways, thanking them personally for being there. They do not make the guests walk up to them and get the gift. The gift is handed around or distributed.

Accept focuses the attention on the recipient but receive focuses attention on the giver.

One of my former readers now a critic said to me they have forgiven me already but asked me to repent. But I said, if I have been forgiven already before I repent, what is the point of repenting? It is messy.


LutherRocks said...

It is not so subtle for the discerning...Justification and the work of Christ is displaced from Christ onto the whole unbelieving world. And then the mess ensues...

My pastor said in a sermon that my sins were forgiven long before I was born...I said 'then what good was my Baptism? What good is Lord's Supper?'

It has been a mess since...

LPC said...


Now that my ears are more sensitive, I can say I get the same, honestly. Often I hear statements of forgiveness without reference to the status of the hearer and these statements can be interpreted universally, which messes one around.

The importance of baptism got hammered on me again a few days ago when I reflect the nature of Israel. For example, take a person from Jewish parents, now is that a person Jew even if that person is not circumcised?

Did not God want to kill Moses' children because they were not circumcised before they entered the promised land?

So Luther was correct to point to his baptism to know if he was a Christian. He pointed something outside himself.


Gregory L. Jackson said...

Lito, you pointed out the Calvinistic origin of merging the atonement with justification. Experience makes a difference. Synodical cheerleaders do all their discerning with a UOJ cookie cutter. Show them this or that passage in the Book of Concord or the Bible and it comes out UOJ.

Eduard Preuss is hailed as a great justification teacher, but they do not mention he joined the Roman Catholic Church as one of their converted theologians - converted by a brilliant red sunset (Fuerbringer's LCMS history).

Preuss is the one who said we are justified before we are born.

LPC said...

Hi Pr Greg,

This looking at anything as UOJ is what makes their position so much like myth making. Maier approached it exegetically and it has been found wanting.

RC Vatican II has a streak of universalism in it so UOJers will be at home in RC, she is big and all encompassing, she will let you be what you want to be, so long as you do not buck the pope.

One of my synod's theologian just became RC recently, from what I understand he believed in universal justification too.


Gregory L. Jackson said...

You did not expect many comments, Lito? We will decide that.

You are right about Roman Catholicism. The modernists are smitten with Rahner, who advocated universalism with his "anonymous Christian." Every cool theologian loves Rahner.

Tillich and Barth on the Protestant apostate side are the equivalent. Fiorenza, earlier at Notre Dame, now at Harvard, loved all three: Barth, Tillich, and Rahner.

LPC said...

Pr. Greg,

Yes I have read some LC-MS pastors laud some RC theologians commending their work then they say a lot of caveats before doing so.

There is value in reading for information and even that I doubt but I would not recommend to read it for learning. It is like sending your sheep to a pit of snakes.

Universalism leads to boredom. If one's theology has trivialized faith, then what else is there? Then what is the problem?

So the minister goes to church and change, goes for the smells and bells, goes for fads - he does this because he tries to make life interesting since the game is already over.


Gregory L. Jackson said...

Yes, Lito. UOJ quickly leads to ennui, which creates the itch. In contrast, there is nothing like the Book of Concord during a doctrinal crisis. The Confessions are harmonious, Scriptural, enlightening, exciting, comforting, challenging, and yet plainly worded.

K. F. Peters said...

This is worth a look.

Quote, "... even though Jesus has died to make up for the sins of the whole world, this does not mean, as some claim, that all are thereby forgiven."

LPC said...


Thanks for your contribution to this discussion.

Many influenced by Walther think of this differently, they claim that one is already forgiven, the person simply trusts that fact that they are already. For they claim, this happened at the Cross/Resurrection of Christ.

In fact even that boy just recently born have been forgiven already even before he gets baptized.


Gregory L. Jackson said...

You are right, Lito. The substance of UOJ is this - the entire world is born forgiven and guilt-free. In fact, as DP Jon Buchholz wrote in a WELS convention essay, the entire world is already saved. I will let others sort out how they can make sense of this hash. That is what Missouri, WELS, and the ELS teach.

The ELCA, similarly, interprets the Gospel as everyone is forgiven. The added statement today for ELCA is "except those who are leaving ELCA. They will never be forgiven."

LutherRocks said...

Since UOJ has always been in the Bible, the next time you are in a discussion ask how UOJ works with the believers of the OT. Paul jumps over the Resurrection to Abraham in Romans 4 to show how believers of all time are the same and Abraham is the father of that faith. I had a discussion recently with a pastor and he said he believed in the SJ of Abraham. He further explained that the objective promise of God was true whether he believed it or not. I thought we were making progress until he said that there are differences between OT and NT believers. I said but Job said 'I know that my Redeemer liveth'.

LPC said...

Pr. GJ/JK.

KFP's research validates my suspicion that UOJ is not yet the default view in LCAus. I asked a layman of LCAust whom I consider brought up in the synod if he was ever taught that all have been forgiven by virtue of the Cross, he said if the person does not repent and believe, he is not forgiven.

However, the conservatives in LCAus most likely find their affinity with the Waltherians and the LC-MS. Most of these guys might have been former Evangelicals gone Lutheran.

Walther and Pieper wrote valid critiques of Calvinism and I notice the one who gets tenacious about UOJ are former Calvinists like me. They get that way because they got burned by the legalism and lack of certainty.

Let's be honest, universalism is the ultimate good news and ultimate assurance.

Note that according to Waltherians that lay man I spoke too must be a Calvinist.

I can only LOL.


That pastor you spoke too has become a Dispensationalist, another heretical idea. Isn't it remarkable how one keeps getting off the edge because of one error? It just multiplies doesn't it?

It is a mess.


K. F. Peters said...

I like John Kleinig's take on Lutheran church.
One of his former students posted the lectures from his class on spirituality on-line.

I would particularly recommend the lectures 3b and 4a. He talks about experience and gives objective and subjective justification a proper definition. He also talks about the orthodox/pietist split.

LPC said...


He talks about experience and gives objective and subjective justification a proper definition

If he wants to retain those terms then he is wrong. There is no such thing as objective justification in Scripture, if there is anything objective, it is the atonement, but it is not the same as justification. The declaration of righteousness on the believer is of course very real per Scripture - it is not legal fiction because what ever God says is true, he can not lie so objective. But I wont join the words objective and justification together because it produces a mess. It should be abandoned.

Notice that the paper you referenced were written not solely by Kleinig but a committee.


K. F. Peters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
K. F. Peters said...

Kleinig refers to objective justification in regard to how we experience salvation. You know like the name of your blog, outside us, objectively.
And we don't rely on our feelings to know we are saved.

I don't know if he is even aware of how the term is used by LCMS and WELS.

LPC said...


I have listened to the 3b you mentioned, Kleinig does not use the term objective justification in the same sentence. In the fact that something comes outside of us, that is a different category as is used in LC-MS or WELS.


K. F. Peters said...

Lecture 4a about 13:00 minutes into the lecture.

K. F. Peters said...

On an unrelated subject...

If our knowledge of God is limited by his hiddenness, are there other limits to our knowing?

Unknowable numbers. Numbers that are real but are unable to be calculated, not because of their irrationality but because of their randomness. Say the number of times Led Zeppelin's Stair Way to Heaven has been played or performed.

Gregory Chaitin has a more in depth explanation that doesn't use tired pop songs.

LPC said...



His use of it is wrong and inappropriate. He confuses the atonement with justification. Notice he used Romans 4:25. I spoken about this passage often in this blog.


LPC said...

On knowing.

Yes there are very many things we cannot know, there are undecidable questions - hence, I am skeptical about the idea of AI Singularity. It is a pipe dream.

Godel proved that such is the case even for arithmetic.