Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In the Roll of the Book It Is Written of Him

"Behold, I have come to do Your Will, O God."  And by this Will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

So, I've been trying to approach recent discussions and rethink them in terms of Christ and His fulfilling of the Law for us; and then to consider what that looks like, and what that means for us, as Christ now lives in us and we in Him.

I resonate with those who make distinctions between the "old man" and the "new man" in us; and with all those extrapolations, which apply the Law to the "old man," the Gospel to the new.  I'm simplifying here, for the sake of brevity (and so as to humor my colleagues), but I get it, I've said it and taught it myself, and I still find it an attractive way of thinking.

Yet, for all that, I've been challenged, not only by such quotes as Fr. Curtis and Fr. Braaten have recently shared, and by my own careful reading of the Apology (especially Article IV on Justification, of all things), but also by the preaching and catechesis of my Lord in the Gospels, and by His holy Apostles in their Epistles.  St. Paul, in particular, the great champion of Justification by grace, never flinches from preaching and teaching the Law, and exhorting the people to whom he writes with admonitions to live righteously.

I don't believe that the Gospel is lacking in anything.  I don't believe that the Law can enable us to become better, or to do good works.  I don't believe that our righteousness before God is found in our keeping of the Law.  And, while I am convinced by the Scriptures and the Confessions that God does promise temporal and eternal rewards to those who keep His commandments, I also believe that such rewards are in, with, and under the Cross; that the righteous suffer many things; and that, in any case, I am deserving of nothing of punishment.  Whatever hidden good there is in me, I have received by grace through Jesus Christ, my Lord; and it is only by His mercy and forgiveness that all that is lacking in me is filled up and completed by Him.

But as to this dividing of the Law and the Gospel between the "old man" and the "new man," much as I like it, I don't believe that distinction satisfies the consideration of the way in which the good and acceptable Will of God is revealed to us and worked in us by the Spirit of Christ, our Savior.  The "new man" delights in the Law of God, precisely because it is His good and holy Word, and because it faithfully reveals His Will, which has been fulfilled by Christ for us.  It conveys not only information, but establishes the good and determines what the life of righteousness is: faith toward God, and fervent love toward one another.

Returning, then, to my initial thought, and my point for consideration and discussion:

When Jesus "went down with [His earthly parents, Joseph and Mary], and came to Nazareth; and He continued in subjection to them," was that His "old man" (sic) or His "new man" that was heeding the Fourth Commandment?

When Christ Jesus relied upon the Holy Scriptures to resist and refute the devil's temptations in the wilderness, citing the commands of God, such as "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve," and "You shall not tempt the Lord your God," was that His "old man" (sic) or His "new man" that was laying hold of the Law and submitting to it?

When the Lord Jesus Christ "loved His own who were in the world, and He loved them to the end," and He knelt down to wash their feet in humble obedience to the Father who sent Him, and He commanded them to "love one another, as I have loved you," was that His "old man" (sic) or His "new man" who was living and loving in fulfillment of the Law of God?

And, in turn, as St. Peter writes that "Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously," was that His "old man" (sic) heeding the Law and subjecting Himself to the Will of God? Or, was that not the very "New Man" whose fulfilling of the Law is here set forth as "an example" for us to follow?

The necessary caveats: I'm posing these questions for the sake of my own thinking out loud about them, and because I welcome the comment, correction, and clarification of my brothers.  I have no "opponent" in mind, real or imagined.  This isn't offered as an accusation or critique.  It's probably not even provocative enough to prompt a response, but, hey, I gotta be me.  No kingdom building here; just trying to start a conversation.  (I also recognize and understand that the "old man" never keeps the Law.  I do realize that, and, if I were speaking more precisely and thoroughly, I would have noted that throughout.  My question has to do with the way in which the Law is used, and the way in which it functions, in the life of Christ; on the assumption that His use of the Law will inform an understanding of the Christian's use of the Law in Him.)

56 comments:

  1. I didn't think Christ had an "old man."

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    1. Right: As I have attempted to acknowledge throughout, Paul. That is part of my point. If the role and function of the Law is only for the "old man," then how are we to think of our Lord's use of the Law in His own life for us? Is this not informative of the way that we also now live in Him, and He in us? Especially as He is set forth as an example for us, and as He commands us to love one another, as He has loved us? If Christ does not have an "old man" (and I don't believe that He does, except that He makes our sin His own, and He comes not only as true Man, but in the likeness of fallen flesh), then His use of the Law suggests a way of thinking about our "new man's" use of the Law.

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    2. That was exactly the point that jumped out at me as I read your posting. "There it is!" I thought. Brilliant observation,

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  2. I like this a lot, Rick. I wonder how much of the problem arises over our short-hands. "The Law" is never the enemy. It EXPOSES the enemy. It cannot save us. It was never given us for such a purpose. It was given us to make us see our native state from the fall: condemned and damnable. But it is NOT the enemy, and St. Paul is explicit on this. It is simply the will of God for the human life and the fact that that will does not show up in our lives by nature makes our experience of the law as condemnatory (and apart from Christ's perfect fulfillment of it on our behalf, it will always remain condemnatory). But when by grace we are in Christ's perfect fulfillment of the law, then the law itself may be picked up without its stinger safely drawn. It is simply the expression of God's will for the human life that we live in His communion of love. What it commands but cannot deliver, that the Gospel delivers and so delivered we delight in the command itself.

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    1. Thank you for yor response, Bill, and for these helpful comments. I'm always grasping at these things, and struggling to know how best to think about them and express them. But you have articulated nicely what I perceive and understand to be true. Thanks for that!

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    2. I would say that the law is our enemy because we ourselves are enemies, namely of God, whose law it is. That is why we do not obey it; and to the extent that we do obey it, we consider our obedience righteousness - thus disobeying the first and foremost commandment of the law, namely that we honour God alone as God and Giver of all good.

      As the law thus brings us under condemnation with God with its demand that "the soul that sins must die", it (as the "curse of the law" or the "threat of the law") becomes our very real enemy, and that from which we must be redeemed - as we are in Christ.

      Redeemed in Christ we are set in a different position with regards to God and His law in that the threat of the law is no longer our real enemy (except that all kinds of misunderstandings of the law and its relation to the Gospel might be very real enemies in our hearts and minds).

      But the law remains an enemy to that in us which remains an enemy of God. And that is why, in my experience, the law remains my enemy. It demands that I do what part of me does not want to do. And it shows me that which part of me does not want to see. It shows me my faults and flaws and failures. And it shows me that I am wrong when it comes to what is good and right. And it shows me that I am not God, and Someone else is.

      And that part of me which is hostile to the law as well as to its Author, and to which the law is hostile, is actually and really me - every bit as much as that in me which rejoices in the law of God.

      In that sense the law is and remains my enemy, as good as it is in itself.

      Merely a petite exercise in rhetoric, perhaps. Or perhaps there is something substantial to it. I am not sure.

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    3. I believe this is well stated, Jais. Thank you for your insights and comments. I don't think it is merely an exercise in rhetoric, but our rehearsing of the Word, our confessing it, our rolling it around and off our lips and in our writing, belongs to the way in which the Word of the Lord shapes and fashions us in the Image of Christ.

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  3. With its stinger safely drawn. Typo.

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  4. Fantastic, Fr. Stuckwisch. Thank you.

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  5. Fr. Stuckwisch, thank you. I think you have articulated nicely what is true. I suspect that I am not the only one who has been tempted, who has struggled, and who has failed (both in sermons as well as in individual pastoral care), to get these distinctions right.

    What I mean is this: There is a difference between saying that "Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes," and, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4). The word "righteousness" is key, I think, to understanding that the law does not go away in Christ. Jesus Himself says that He did not come to "destroy the Law or the Prophets...but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17). There is a very real and concrete (not abstract) difference between "destroy" and "fulfill." Your post brings out the importance of this fulfillment, and our life in Christ who fulfills this. I was thinking of the same question that Pr. Beisel asked, and I appreciate your response, namely (if I understand you correctly), that in Christ Jesus there is no "old man." Maybe this is another reason why He has made all things new?

    Also, as St. Paul says..."and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith..." (Philippians 3:9). You also brought this out well, by saying that our righteousness before God is not from the law. At the same time, the law is not destroyed because of this.

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    1. I appreciate your comments, Mike, both here and in the previous thread, as well. You have pointed to some of the same passages that I have found at times challenging, and yet compelling, over the years.

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  6. Yes, very well written, brother. I am tempted to extol it further, but I think I’d just be rambling as I try to get my head around it all.

    I know the discussions I have read are dealing with how best to handle this mystery of God’s Law and Gospel, a never ending struggle for us all, and both sides have legitimate concerns, I think. Perhaps the tension will simply be necessary to maintain until we leave this vale of tears.

    For myself, I tend to try to run things through Christ whenever I can, and knowing that He delights to do His Father’s will is helpful to me. The fulfilling of the Law is given us by grace, but we also have Christ Himself arising and emerging to live in and through us, so that it is no longer merely we who live, as St. Paul said, but Christ living in us. I find it therefore important to grapple with how best to preach and teach that there is a delighting in the Law for the Christian

    Luther wrote, “solus decalogus est aeternus”; the Law – that perfect expression in time of what is fulfilled only by God’s own Love – remains forever. In the resurrection, it holds no threat, since the Old Man won’t go with us. Now? It crushes and kills him, to be sure, but Christ living and at work within us delights in what pleases His Father. How else do branches produce fruit, but that Christ always delights in His Father’s will, even in and through the members of His Body?

    Anyway, thanks for the post, and to all who are now wrestling through this topic. That Christ does nothing but delight entirely in His Father’s will, both to love God and love His neighbor, even in and through those whom He calls His own, seems helpful to me.

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    1. Thank you, Brother Rick. You are exactly right in suggesting that our struggle to preach and teach these things will be an ongoing challenge in this poor life of labor. But the way in which Christ delights in the Law and fulfills it for us is instructive, not only for understanding Christ, but for learning to know the Law of God in its own goodness and righteousness.

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    2. Yes, I agree. So, as New Creations in Christ, we look upon the will of His Father and ours with delight, as we will in all eternity. Here, we feebly struggle with that, since sin still hangs around our neck and infects us sorely, but the New Man is glad for whatever troubling the Law does to said infection. He delights in whatever amputating the Vine Dresser must do; whatever killing is needed. With the Mind of Christ comes all that is His, including His joy at saying: "Thy will be done." I hope I'm tracking with you in all of this. If not, just let me know.

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  7. If I may attempt to build on this most helpful meditation:

    Jesus, unlike fallen man, enjoys perfect freedom. He regards the Father with perfect love. Jesus submits himself to the law out of a pure desire to please the Father, this is what the First Commandment is all about. Jesus (obviously) does not hate the law but meditates upon it day and night as the Father's self-revelation of the Father's will and expectation of what human behavior should be.

    From a slightly different angle; the law describes for men what the Messiah will be and do. Any true Israelite who understands the law (and are precious few) recognizes the Promised One as the only righteous man who has walked the Earth.

    So to connect back to the concept of freedom: mankind craves freedom but is enslaved to sin. The law points the way to real human freedom and describes what it looks like and utterly frustrates any human attempts to achieve freedom on its own terms. Christ comes not just to demonstrate what real human freedom looks like, but to actually break the curse, pay the price, and bring men along with him into perfect freedom, peace with the Father, and everlasting bliss.

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    1. I believe this is well put and helpful, Matt. Thank you for your comments.

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  8. I am inclined to add even the Circumcision and Presentation of Our Lord, although it was His parents who carried out the Law of the Lord in each case, according to what was written in the Scriptures. Even here, our Lord keeps and fulfills the commandments of God; not because He has any sins of His own, but in order to redeem us from the curse and burden of our sin and death. He goes about saving us by hearing and heeding, keeping and fulfilling the Law of God, "as it is written."

    So, too, He "kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men," not because He was in need of repentance and reformation, but because He lived as the true Man (not "old man" or "new man," but the Man, the true Adam who is the Image of God in the flesh). He doesn't "make it up as He goes along," but He learns from the Scriptures, and relies upon them, prays and confesses them, and so keeps and fulfills them on our behalf and in our stead. Is this not His active obedience for us? That He might be our faithful and merciful High Priest in all things pertaining to God. That He, for our sake, although He was ever and always the Son, might learn obedience through the things that He suffered "in the likeness of fallen men."

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    1. Yes! Luther preached that Christ was not obligated to keep the Law of Circumcision any more than He was obligated - of necessity, I mean; as a sinner in need of being redeemed - to be baptized by John. Yet He did these things FOR us, freely! He was not dragged to them kicking and screaming, or in order to secure for Himself any favor from his Father, though His Father delighted in His Son at doing them.

      I think of the way we adults keep the "law" set in place while children are young. Today, I called out to my son-in-law, who works at our school, saying: "Mr. Holder . . ." I did that for the sake of the children, who are learning to be respectful to their elders.

      When children, we are told, "Wash your hands," but as adults, we need no such instructions, though OSHA keeps telling me to wait for some employee to wash my hands before I leave the restaurant bathroom! I don't NEED to be told to wash my hands, but I'm not offended to see it written on the wall. After all, having grown past the need for such a schoolteacher, I still agree that washing my hands before returning to my table is meet, right and sanitary!

      Christ came as THE New Man, as you say above; as the TRUE Adam, walking in the Garden defoliated by man's sin, as the Only Fully Human since Adam fell to completely delight in God's Will. He delights in it, not because He must, but because it is HIS Law; the expression of HIS love for the Father AND for His neighbor, sinful though we be.

      Now, in Him, we are set back in Paradise to be fully enjoyed in the resurrection, and until then, Paradise bears fruit in us, who even now partake of the Tree of Life, namely, Christ's cross and all its benefits. We eat and drink and have eternal life in us, and in that, the New Man walks through Eden restored and yet to be fully realized, freely living, moving, breathing and having his being in Christ, and so bearing His image and likeness, we delight in what God says - OF us and also TO us, for our well-being and that of others.

      OK, I'm probably off in my own little corner of the Garden thinking odd thoughts, so draw me back if needs be! ;-)

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  9. Read Pastor Weedon's sermon delivered at CPH and see how he handles parenesis in the sermon.

    I want to preach like Weedon when I grow up.

    http://cyberbrethren.com/2013/12/04/donkey-business-a-sermon-for-the-first-sunday-in-advent/

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  10. Thanks for the great meditation. I have been recently challenged in my thinking about catechesis by rediscovering that WELL OVER HALF of the large catechism is devoted to the 10 Commandments and instruction in holy living.

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  11. Thank you, Rev. Stuckwisch, for providing us with the wonderful consolation of the Gospel. For me to say whether I agree or not would be presumptuous. But I know I am consoled, and that is what the Gospel does.
    In the previous posts I wanted to raise a question about the Law, but all of the heavyweights were going at it hot and heavy, so, as a layman, I did not feel like intruding any more than I already had. Here is my point:
    The Epitome of the FC, in the section, “Law and Gospel”, STATUS CONTROVERSIAE. The Principal Question In This Controversy, gives the following brief definition of the “the Law”: “3] 2. We believe, teach, and confess that the Law is properly a divine doctrine, which teaches what is right and pleasing to God, and reproves everything that is sin and contrary to God's will.” The problem is that in Hebrew there are about 8 words that, in various versions of the English Bible, have been translated as “the Law”. None of them fit the definition in the FC. That does not mean the FC is wrong, because we do not find the “solos” or the “simul” in the Bible either, yet they are definitely Biblical principles. But it does raise a problem when we quote Scripture in defense of a particular view of the Law. The best known Hebrew word for “Law” among Christians is no doubt “Torah”, even though it is not the most frequently used word that is translated as “Law”. But even in its narrowest meaning; i.e. the Pentateuch, it contains both Law and Gospel, which the FC specifically wants to avoid. Therefore, when the Psalmist writes, Psalm 1:2, “but their delight is in the Law (Torah) of the Lord, and on His Law (Torah) they meditate day and night”, he is meditating on both Law and Gospel, if the Pentateuch is intended here, or on the “mind of God” in the widest meaning of the word. When God says, Jeremiah 31:33, “I will put my Law (Torah) within them, and write it on their hearts …” He is most likely referring to the widest meaning of the word, which includes both Law and Gospel, which St. Paul probably has in mind when he writes, 1 Corinthians 2:16, “But we have the mind of Christ.” The Greek exacerbates the problem, because for all practical purposes it uses one word, nomos, for Law. When our Lord says, Luke 16:16, “The Law and the Prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the Kingdom of God is proclaimed …,” He means the Pentateuch, which contains both Law and Gospel.
    The problem is so beautifully illustrated by Rev. Rick Sawyer, when he wrote, “Luther wrote, “solus decalogus est aeternus”; the Law – that perfect expression in time of what is fulfilled only by God’s own Love – remains forever.” Because in Hebrew, “decalogus” is never referred to by the words translated as “the Law” but by the Hebrew equivalent of “the words” or “the ten words.” So the “Decalogue” is law, but it is not “the Law.”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

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    1. I think you are making an important point.
      Clearly not all references to "law" in Holy Scripture are references to the law AS OPPOSED to the Gospel.
      Out of the top of my head:
      The "law of the Spirit of life" in Romans 8:2 is clearly the Gospel, as is also the "perfect law of freedom" in James 1:25 (is one allowed to cite James on this site?).
      And clearly enough, the way the Psalms often talk about the law, particularly Psalm 119, they are really talking about the Gospel - the law as the order of things God has established in His mercy.

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    2. It is also instructive, it seems to me, that Luther can view the Decalogue as both “law” and not “law.” He says that here it accuses (on account of sin), but in the coming life, it will not, since we will have no sin.

      “The Decalogue, however, is greater [than circumcision] because it is written in the hearts and minds of all and will remain with us even in the coming life. Yet not so circumcision, as baptism also will not remain, but only the Decalogue is eternal – as such, that is, *not as law* - because in the coming life things will be like what the Decalogue has been demanding here. Finally, the Decalogue is also nobler for that reason that it brought Christ from heaven. For if there had not been the Decalogue that accused and condemned us, for what, I ask, would Christ have descended?” Luther, Solus Decalogus Est Aeternus, Thirty-Fourth Argument

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    3. Jais Tinglund:
      I do not make the rules for this blog, but I suspect that on this Lutheran blog you may quote anyone who does not explicitly forbid the drinking of beer.
      George A. Marquart

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    4. Dear Rev. Sawyer: I consider Luther’s discovery of the meaning of the Gospel one of the greatest miracles wrought by God – comparable to the conversion of Saul. But I am sure that there were things from his life before the “Tower Experience” that stuck to him throughout his life. In our time, we have seen the collapse of the Soviet and Nazi regimes. Both had some adherents who genuinely believed in their ideology without any thought of gain for themselves. When these regimes disappeared, not all of these people were able to abandon their old ideology completely; in fact, some were not able to do so at all. I am sure that something like that happened to Luther, because before he ever heard of the Gospel, he had a lifetime devotion to the Law, and specifically to the Decalogue. The church of his time encouraged this, because it was easier to retain power with fear rather than with freedom. I have not read the work you refer to so whatever I write about it is based on the brief excerpt you offered.
      Is the Decalogue “written in the hearts and minds of all”? In all likelihood Luther did not include non-believers in the “all”. But where does this come from? From Jeremiah 31? The word used there is “Torah”, which includes the Decalogue, but is not limited to it.
      I really don’t know what Luther means in writing that the “Decalogue will remain with us even in the coming life.” I do know that when our Lord was asked which was the greatest commandment, He responded with two, neither one of which is in the Decalogue.
      Peace and Joy!
      George A. Marquart

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    6. I wonder if the idea of the Decalogue remaining with us even in the coming life has to do with the Decalogue reflecting the good nature of God - which, of course, endures forever.

      The thought has grown ever stronger with me in recent years, although I am sure that some would brand this a highly unLutheran commingling of law and Gospel, that the Ten Commandments in their actual content actually express the Gospel, only in the imperative form.
      The First Commandment, obviously, points to God as the only Saviour, and prohibits us from trying to be our own. Now, that is Gospel.
      The Second Commandment is a call to call upon the name of the Lord and thus be saved.
      The Third Commandment is a call to receive His salvation, as it is given to us in Christian Gospel and Sacrament worship.
      The Fourth Commandment points out that the God of our salvation, Father of Christ, after whom all fatherhood is named, whose kingship is our salvation, is the final and ultimate Authority - and as His throne stands forever, so does our salvation.
      The Fifth Commandment points out that He who died for us is the God of life.
      The Sixth Commandment points to His steadfast and sacrificial love for His Church, expressed in that He binds to us by His promise in a covenant that is sacred, as marriage is sacred (I still do not quite get that "testament rather than covenant" thing - which may very well be something ethnic on my part) rather than by our fleeting feelings, as in a passing fling .
      The Seventh Commandment points to God as all Giver of all things good, and Provider of all that we (really) need.
      The Eighth Commandment points to God as the God of truth. We can trust His promises. And Christ our heavenly High Priest speaks well of us and puts the best construction on everything that has anything to do with us by pointing out to the heavenly Father that our sin is dealt with and done away with by what He Himself has done for us.
      And the Ninth and the Tenth Commandment point to the complete purity and perfection that is in God, and thus also in the righteousness given to us in Christ - and the perfect peace (shalom) that is His heavenly Kingdom.

      Again, just some thoughts.

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  12. St. Paul called the law, "the ministry of death"…and "a tutor UNTIL Christ came" (emphasis mine).

    We see how when it was necessary, Jesus just stepped around the law and acted in faith and love.

    When we get frightened of our Christian freedom and turn back into the law for the answers, or as a guide…we no longer are living by faith, but by sight.

    Sure, the law has it's purposes, but this is sure, "Christ is the end of the law for all those who have faith."

    Thanks.

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  13. Once again, please quote the whole: "Christ is the end of the law FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS to all who believe." Ponder that omitted part!

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  14. Yeah…what else did you think I had in mind?

    _

    The law doesn't make us better…as St. Paul said, it makes us worse.

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  15. The law is written upon our hearts, Pastor.

    We know what to do.

    We just flat out refuse to do it. And if we do do it…well…I never met a pure motive yet.

    Maybe that's why the Scriptures tell us that" all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags."

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    1. Steve,

      No one who confesses the third use of the Law is saying that this is another, new Law (sometimes I think folks get that impression). It's the one eternal law, written on our hearts, but as received by the new man, regenerated by the Holy Spirit. What you say is true of us as sinners: we refuse the Law and never have pure motives. In that the Gospel has made us a new creation already now, the saint receives the Law with joy--not for salvation but out of love for God and neighbor.

      Sometimes I think of the third use as the Christian's attitude toward the Law. Only the Christian can rejoice and love the Law in this way because he has already been redeemed and taken out from under its condemnation by the Gospel alone. We don't proceed through the uses 1...2..3, but all three happen to us all the time. Does that help?

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    2. Rev. Hayes,

      Those things do happen to us, as we do not use the law the Spirit does. My probe;em with "3rd use" is that it is superfluous as the so-called guide for Christians is already in uses 1 and 2. And it can open the door to legalism. It's like letting the fox back into the henhouse.

      Thanks.

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    3. Steve,

      I think it would be superfluous if "3rd use" referred to the content of the Law (wouldn't distinguishing between 1 and 2 be superfluous too, then?). But that's not what we mean (see above).

      Can it be abused for legalism? Yes. But that is abuse and must be rejected.

      The Law of God is not a fox; it is not evil or bad. It is good and holy (as I'm sure you would readily acknowledge, obviously). Moreover, (to engage your metaphor) the law would only be "let back into the henhouse" if it were given some role in our justification. The third use as taught in the Formula specifically denies this in the strongest possible terms.

      I hope that helps some. Be careful of Forde. He has a lot of great stuff, but he also denies the vicarious atonement of Christ, which is a most grievous sin.

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  16. Thank you Pr. Weedon. It is vital to remember that Christ is not the end of the law to all who believe...otherwise that would mean the end of the law, but the law isn't ended.

    "For righteousness," yes. But that is all.

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  17. Steve, I'm curious. Who would you point to as being the most influential pastors and/or professors who have shaped your opinions about the third use of the Law?

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    1. My own pastor, Mark Anderson, who is an ardent Fordeian.

      Also, of course, Dr. Luther himself in his Heidelberg Disputation.

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    2. I LOVE Forde.

      He realized that it is ALL …or nothing.

      Something that other Lutherans would do well to learn.

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    3. You guys' "3rd use" stuff and your biblicism keeps you chained to that peg. You might have a longer chain than others…(some semblance of freedom)…but you are still burdened.

      Try freedom some day. It's great! There's no going back once you have tasted it.

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    4. We've all seen how well that Forde inspired "freedom" has worked itself out in the ELCA.

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    5. I'd have to disagree with Brother Paul. Forde's teaching did not lead to liberalism in the ELCA. Forde was rather conservative. However, he was conservative similar to how Immanuel Kant was, by today's standards, conservative. And therein lies his problem.

      In fact, if you look closely at Forde's teachings, there are remarkable similarities with his view of the Law and Kant's philosophical views of it. One sees this especially in Forde's discussion of sexuality, where it almost appears that Forde has Kant's Lectures on Ethics and Philosophy of Law open in front of him as he writes.

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    6. Forde's drumbeat for "freedom from the Law" and his denial of the third use of the Law played directly into the rhetoric and beliefs used to prop up the ELCA's rejection of the notion that any sin can, or does, separate us from God, etc. etc.

      His rejection of the third use along with the anti-third use crowd that came into the ELCA from Seminex planted the seeds that bore their poisonous fruit in recent years.

      That's what I'm referring to.

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    7. Christian freedom is not what led to the problems in the ELCA, Rev. McCain.

      They have thrown God's Word overboard for more generous words.

      We take God's law seriously. So seriously that we know that we are not up top the task of making use of it (the law). But it exposes us…and drives us to Christ.

      "Christ is the end of the law…"

      But, go ahead, try and preach this 3rd use at people. You'll either make them proud…or lead them to despair.

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    8. Steve, I'll continue to preach in such a manner that is faithful to the command, example and promise of preaching that is replete throughout Holy Scripture, that is clearly articulated and confessed in the Book of Concord and that is modelled by all faithful orthodox Lutheran preachers both past and present.

      We'll leave the denial of a proper place for Christian parenesis, a denial of Scripture on these points and a denial of our Lutheran Confessions to those who think they know better than these sources, Gerhard Forde and his disciples included, of course.

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  18. I think this sermon (by my pastor) nails it:

    http://theoldadam.com/2013/12/03/the-freedom-of-the-christian/

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  19. What we have here is Law/Gospel reductionism, pure and simple.

    Whereas Paul, Augustine, Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard, et al. recognized that the Bible itself speaks of the Law in different ways (say, negatively when Paul juxtaposes it against the Gospel, or positively in other passages of Scripture), the Erlangenists, neo-Lutherans, Fordeans, et al. reject this because it doesn't fit into their closed theological "system" (a system which, by the way, German theological faculties borrowed from the sciences in the 18th and 19th centuries).

    Law/Gospel for this crowd is a theological strainer of sorts, and those portions of the Bible (even if pertaining to the Law) that don't come through it are rejected. The Law can't be positive, because it is negative.

    Missouri is on the heels of another theological crisis: Seminex redux. Time to do some work, folks.

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  20. I think this is a perspective (by Dr. Steven Paulson) with a few ideas that maybe either side has not given a lot of thought to:

    http://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/content/pdfs/21-3_The_Law/21-3_Paulson.pdf

    Thanks.

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    1. Another example of a Forde-ite misrepresenting and falsifying Lutheran history, not to mention Biblical doctrine.

      This book totally refutes any claim that Luther did not know and advocate a third use of the law:

      http://www.cph.org/p-19257-friends-of-the-law-luthers-use-of-the-law-for-the-christian-life.aspx


      Steve, if you would stop posting nonsense like this and spend more time actually informing yourself of the facts, you'd do yourself a huge favor.

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  21. I apologize that I have not returned to the discussion or responded to the various comments since this past Wednesday. I appreciate the input and conversation, and I haven't forgotten you all, but have been engaged in other duties and responsibilities. As the Lord so enables, I will reply as best I can in due season. A blessed Advent Tide to one and all.

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    1. I will put up my thoughts here for you.

      He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

      The distinction that I had been taught at the Sem, that I think is useful, is this. Christ, in and of Himself, has no sin. (I trust that isn't a scandalous position). Rather - He who knew no sin became sin for us -- that is, Homo Factus Est. That He was not just incarnate, bearing flesh because it would be fun, but that He became Man, born under the Law. It is language of the humiliation of our Lord - that the Word who gave the Law would need to learn it. It is the old language of the active and passive obedience of Christ.

      So, when you are looking at the Incarnation, you are seeing the Great New Man take up the old... so that we who are in the Old may put on the New, both now while we are both sinner and saint, but especially then when Christ alone is our head and all sin and old is forgotten, for the former things have passed away.

      This is what Jeremiah would have us look forward towards: " For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

      In the resurrection, we will not need the teaching of the Law, we will not need to ponder or be instructed in morality... not because morality ceases or the Law is bad - but because we will know it... we will be following Christ our Head completely, and as He will not fall like Adam we will never fall again. In the resurrection, we will have total and complete active and passive obedience, because when we see Him, we will be like He is.

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    2. Although I've regretfully not yet been able to respond to others, I'll respond quickly to this, Brother Eric, with thanks for your comments and input.

      What you've written here sounds "meet and right" to me, but I'm not sure it answers or addresses the questions I've been pondering in this regard. Well, sometimes, I suppose that's how it is: The answers we get are not those we went looking for!

      I agree that our Lord took up the old man for our redemption. He was born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law. He had no sin of His own, but He made Himself to be sin, in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And certainly, in the Resurrection, we shall no longer need the Law in the way that we always need it here.

      However, even in the Resurrection, you here write of the Law, which all of us will know perfectly. I think, in that, you are touching upon the point that I have in mind; or, at least, another aspect of it. No more sin, no more fall, nor even the possibility of falling anymore, but the good and acceptable Will of God, His divine and holy Will, remains eternally.

      In the meantime, it is already ours in Christ, and it is already perfected in Him for us; while, at the same time, we remain sons and daughters of Adam, children of dust and of death, because we are sinful and unclean. I haven't heard anyone suggest that, as sinners, we don't need the Law now; nor have I ever questioned that need, which is patently obvious in myself.

      But as I think about what it means to be "in Christ," and as I then think of the Life that He has lived for us, by grace, it is not true that He "needed" the Law for the sake of curbing His flesh or crushing any sin of His own. It is true that He voluntarily submitted to the Law, in order to fulfill it for us. Is this not what we do, in order to love and serve our neighbor and glorify God?

      Our Lord actually commands us to do as He has done for us, to love and serve each other, as He has loved and served us. We are to be like Him, even now, as we look forward with longing expectation to the Resurrection and the revealing of the sons of God. We are to follow the example that He has left for us. In this way, the Apology indicates, the Kingdom of God is already being manifest on earth, though in weakness under the Cross.

      The command and the example of our Lord do accuse and condemn us, because, in our sinful flesh, we are always falling short of His glory and His righteousness. But that is not all we are, nor is that all there is to it. For it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. And Christ, even now, in us, has the ear of a disciple: He listens and learns the Word of God, and He speaks and confesses and lives a godly life according to it.

      Our Lord was taught the Law in His life as true Man, by His earthly parents, by His pastors and teachers. "He grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man." Not because He was sinful, or lacking in away way, but in order to become "our childhood's pattern," as the hymn puts it; in order to be and to live as "true Man," in the way that God intended Man to be and to live in the beginning: As one who listens to, and live by, every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. He has done it, that we might live in Him, the Word-made-Flesh. And, I would here suggest, that, living in Him by grace through faith in the Gospel, we do also hear and heed His Word concerning "faith toward Him and fervent love toward one another."

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    3. It is the simul. It is saint and sinner. It is why as we die we can sing, "And take they our life, goods, fame, child, and wife..."

      The passage I like for all this is 1 John 3:1-3. Then it will be great - we will be as He is. Or Paul - Now, dimly, as though a mirror, then face to face.

      The problem is never the New, though. The problem is always the old.

      + + + + +

      Oh, as for the growing in stature -- that's part of the stages of humiliation. It is not something in Christ Himself that He would need to grow, but for our sake He emptied Himself, made Himself nothing. He grew as we had been created to grow. Fulfilling all righteousness.

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    4. I agree with most of what you say here, Brother Eric, and I love same passages, too. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

      I disagree with you, however, on your assessment of our Lord's growing in stature. That which belongs to created human life per se is not part of His humiliation, but is the goodness of Man in the Image of God. In this respect, the greater Mystery is not so much the simul iustus et peccator, but the union of the two natures in the one Person of the Christ.

      In any case, I appreciate your comments. Thank you for responding. And a blessed Advent Tide to you and yours.

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    5. "That which belongs to created human life per se is not part of His humiliation, but is the goodness of Man in the Image of God."

      Here is my question - were Adam and Eve created as children or adults? If they were created as adults did not grow in stature, did they then miss out in the goodness of Man in the Image of God?

      This is actually (if I can be over simplistic) a difference that I noticed between East and West. The East tends to have a, I'll call it 'romantic' as ironic as that is, notion of continual and perpetual growth - the idea of moving ever more and more closer to God. It's an idea that I will admit is appealing (romantic was not meant to be derogatory there). More common in the West (and I actually think slightly more Scriptural) is the idea of completion, perfection.

      This is part of the way I may a distinction between incarnutus and homo factus. It's no demeaning thing to be incarnate - Image of God and all that after all. However, to take upon the burdens of growth - shin splints and cracking voices aren't quite what I'd call glorious or go. Christ could have incarnated as a fully grown adult - but he comes to experience all the impacts of life after the fall, including helplessness. The very Word by which all things were made must sit in His own mess and wait on His mother to change Him... that is humiliation.

      (Now, if I wanted to pull in Baseball and Sabermetrics, I would note that generally the peak of athletic performance comes at 27, so physically Jesus would have also experienced decline, the slowing of metabolism, the body falling apart more quickly than it rebuilds... another part of humiliation - but this comes up simply because I've been reading a stat nerd book this week)

      Take care, have good services today, and I will go and prep for mine as well!

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