Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gerhard on preaching sanctification

How should we talk with our people about living a godly life? How should we encourage them to progress in godly living and yet not fall into works righteousness? We could start by just telling them about what the struggle is like. Gerhard does a good job, I think.

In the beginning the desire is more clouded, the assent more languid, the obedience less intense, and these gifts must increase. But they grow in us not like lilies of the field but by trying, wrestling, seeking, asking, knocking, and "this is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God.” The Savior says in Matt. 13:12, “It will be given to him who has.” Whoever has received very small spiritual gifts from God should acknowledge them with a grateful mind, asked that they be increased, and neglect no opportunities to advance in piety. To him it will be given that he may be the richer, but from him who does not have, that is, from him who behaves as if he had received nothing from God, even what he has will be taken away.



  1. I don't really understand what is so difficult about this whole "preaching sanctification" thing. What is so hard about telling Christians what they ought to be doing as Christians, and absolving them when they fail? Why would a Lutheran pastor be afraid or feel guilty about preaching the holy life from the pulpit. All this junk about, "Why would we talk about good works when we could talk about Jesus?" sounds nice, but then we haven't preached the whole counsel of God, then, have we?

    1. There is an element within American Lutheranism that seeks to push the envelope on sinful behavior in order to "prove we're not pietists" and demonstrate street cred on The Article By Which The Church Stands Or Falls.

      However, this anything-goes-I'm-baptized carefree attitude toward sin suddenly stops when it involves abortion and homosexuality.

      Then suddenly the preacher finds his prophetic voice.

      Which makes me wonder if such a preacher is in the service of GOD or GOP.

    2. Ha! And in this regard, it might be recalled that the blessed Apostles, nearing the gates of Jerusalem, did not drape their garments upon an elephant, whether borrowed from the country-club or not.

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor

  2. Beisel-
    you are a legalist. Don't you know we are free from the bonds of the law?

  3. From John Warwick Montgomery:

    "The Third Use is an essential Christian doctrine for two reasons. First, because love — even the love of Christ — though it serves as the most powerful impetus to ethical action, does not inform the Christian as to the proper content of that action."

    "Secondly, the doctrine of the Third Use is an essential preservative for the entire doctrine of sanctification. The Third Use claims that as a result of justification, it is a nomological fact that 'if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new' (II Cor. 5:17). A man in Christ has received a new spirit — the Spirit of the living God — and therefore his relation to the Law is changed. True, in this life he will always remain a sinner (I John 1:8), and therefore the Law will always accuse him, but now he sees the biblical Law in another light — as the manifestation of God's loving will. Now he can say with the psalmist: 'I delight in Thy Law' and 'O how I love Thy Law!' (Ps. 119; cf. Ps. 1 and 19)... The answer to antinomianism, social-gospel legalism, and existential relativism lies not only in the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, as C.F.W. Walther so effectively stressed, but also in the proper harmony of Law and Gospel, as set forth in the classic doctrine of the Third Use of the Law."

    1. "Now he can say with the psalmist: 'I delight in Thy Law' and 'O how I love Thy Law!' (Ps. 119; cf. Ps. 1 and 19)...

      Oh, he can say it alright, but if he fails to acknowledge the LORD's Presence at the Altar with genuflection or a bow, the body's actions will simply affirm that the love of the Law (actually a figure of Christ, the Word) is diagnostically deficient or troubled indeed. The eyes of troubled faith are blind to Lutheran reality; the body of such, thence, is necessarily paralyzed.

      "These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me." The heart drives the motor apparatus ... all of it, including that belonging to the lips, the knees, the arms, the hands ... yes, all of it. When it dawned on St. Peter that he was truly a sinful man, and that he was in the presence of Jesus the Lord of all (including the creatures of the deep), he fell to his knees (Lk 5:8, AV). Shortly thereafter, a man "full of leprosy" (Lk 5:12, AV), on seeing Jesus, "fell on his face and besought Him" (Lk 5:12, AV. But that was then. )Today there are "Lutherans" ... who come into the very Presence of Jesus as promised ... who nevertheless mock those who choose to genuflect to that Presence. Perhaps Mr. Vehse knows of a few.

      "Sanctification" defines the behavior of a saint, who is aware of His Lord's promise to be with him always. The awareness of the saint extends to the Supper, in which the Body and Christ are to found. Sanctification, behaviorally, will reveal what we Lutherans actually think the meaning of LORD is. I like Peter's and the leper's thinking, in Lk 5 ... very Lutheran! Well done, exemplar sirs!

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor

  4. OK, I'm not a pastor, but I am an active listening layman. Why is the phrase "preaching sanctification" used here? How does one "preach sanctification"? Doesn't the Holy Spirit decide which use the law is put to?

    Is it not also true that the Gospel needs to be present (and predominate) in every sermon, while every detail of the law that the sermon text contains does not?

    The Pauline language that speaks of living in holy ways, doing good works, following examples, etc. certainly **may** be present in preaching, especially when it is present in the text. However, it does not **have to** be present in every sermon on such texts.

    I would agree with what I think is the point of this post. That is, that all too often such Pauline language is avoided as if it is inappropriate for sermons. Perhaps this is an overreaction to the pietism and "life lessons" style of preaching that infects many churches today. Against this mistake I would say that, just as you cannot "preach sanctification", you also cannot simply treat the law as if it only is there to condemn. It ALWAYS condemns, but this is not the ONLY purpose God has for it. The law also serves the third use where and when the Holy Spirit decides.

    What I understand is important is to simply "preach the text" and let God make use of it according to His will.

    Nevertheless, the Gospel must predominate even if it isn't in the text itself, and even if it doesn't take up that large a percentage of the sermon. For the Gospel to predominate it simply must stand out as the strongest part of the message, even if it only takes up one sentence of the whole sermon (OK, that's a hyperbole, but you get it).

    1. Preaching Justification: Your sins are forgiven.

      Preaching Sanctification: Go and sin no more.


    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I wonder how the adulterous woman went and sinned no more. (Hint: It wasn't by going and sinning no more).

    4. So, did Jesus not expect her to stop her adulterous life as a fruit of faith?

    5. "34] For the Law only accuses and terrifies consciences."

  5. Wouldn't you agree that "Go and sin no more" will be heard as only 2nd use by some? The law always accuses. Even such language as "Go and sin no more" does not always instruct (i.e. third use, sanctification), but it always accuses. I'm simply arguing that the preacher cannot decide which use of the law the Spirit decides to use in preaching. Understood in this way, a preacher cannot "preach sanctification." He can only preach and allow God to use the preaching to accuse and possibly also instruct. What I think you're getting at, if I am hearing you right, is that a preacher should not treat the law as if it ONLY accuses. The phraseology should not be such that the law is presented as something that ONLY accuses. When the text is speaking in such a way that it is obviously encouraging us to live rightly, the sermon should try to convey that as well, even though this law also will no doubt accuse since we can never follow it perfectly.

    1. I agree that Jesus preached like this :)


    2. I believe the original post spoke of "preaching sanctification," not "what does the hearer hear in preaching." I am not hereby ignoring the hearers of preaching, but this is another distinction, is it not? Regardless of the response of the woman at the well who heard "go and sin no more," what was preached was what was preached.

      Not to go too far with the comparison of course, but it was Pilate who did say, "what I have written I have written."

    3. I think you have hit the nail on the head with this question. I am arguing that one cannot "preach sanctification". One can only preach the law. The manner in which the law is preached does not determine the function to which it is put. Hence, my comment in bold above: "just as you cannot 'preach sanctification', you also cannot simply treat the law as if it only is there to condemn." When the law is preached, regardless of the intent you as preacher have in preaching it, it may be only accusing in some instances and perhaps also instructing in others. I think the term "preaching sanctification" implies that the preacher has control over the purposes of the law, which he does not.

    4. "...over the purposes of the law..." should have read "...over the USES of the law..."

    5. Sanctification is preached when justification is preached, but justification is not preached when sanctification is preached. If you are not justified (individually by faith in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins), there is no such thing as sanctification preaching, because there is only the old man. If you are justified (individually by faith) there is sanctification preaching, because there is the new man.

      The man who was healed at the pool in John 5 was justified. Jesus said to him, "rise, take up your bed and walk. And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath." (v. 8-9) Also, the man said in v. 11, "He who made me well said to me, 'take up your bed and walk.'"

      "Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, 'See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.'" (v. 14). This is sanctification preaching, though it is still the law, is it not? This is why it is called "uses" of the law. The pastor preaches the law in various uses in the sermon, as our confessions testify of as well.

      The hearer does not determine which use of the law it is in preaching. If he is not justified (individually by faith), then he is "only and always" condemned and accused by the law.

    6. "The pastor preaches the law in various uses in the sermon, as our confessions testify of as well."

      Could you please point me to the place(s) in the Confessions where this is stated?

    7. Dr. Heidenreich,

      Apology XXIV (XII) p. 401; par. 48
      Apology IV (II) p. 139; par. 62-68
      Formula VI; p. 805; par. 1
      Formula VI; p. 963; par. 1-5
      Formula VI; p. 967; par. 15-17
      Formula IV; p. 945; par. 19-21
      Formula III; p. 793; par. 5

      This is not an exhaustive list. The preaching of sanctification assumes justification (the justification that gives individuals faith by the grace of God in Christ Jesus). The reality is, the pastor is primarily preaching to those who have been, and are justified.

      Indeed there may be unbelievers in the midst, in which case these are "always and only" accused and condemned by the law, and this is the only use of the law in that case. This does not thereby mean they cannot become regenerate (justified by grace through faith), and then have the law preached to them in its other uses.

      Part of preaching the law is knowing and recognizing its various uses, and this is a never-ending task for the pastor. These include maintaining outward discipline; condemnation; rule of life to the regenerate.

    8. Rev. Grieve, I do not see anything in those references that says anything to the effect that a pastor can "preach sanctification." I am trying to figure out what would lead you to think those references would defeat my argument. The only thing I can come up with is that you (and perhaps others here) are equating the preaching of good works with "preaching sanctification", and this is the exact issue I am trying to address. My argument is not that one should not preach about the good works that the Christian is called to do. In this I agree with Gerhard, Pr. Curtis, and all of you.

      Yes, preaching is to include the good works that God commands of us, and these often instruct the Christian qua Christian. What I am arguing is that a preacher faithfully preaching the law (good works) does not ensure that instruction ("sanctification") is the use to which it is put. The "use" is not determined by the intent of the preacher, but by the Holy Spirit alone.

      Again, your statement that I am arguing against is this: "The pastor preaches the law in various uses in the sermon"

      In your fourth reference above (FC VI, 1-5), we read that "the Holy Spirit uses the written law on them to teach them." I already had highlighted that sentence in one of my editions of the Book of Concord, because I saw it as a very important statement. Note that it does NOT say the preacher uses the written law on them to teach them. None of your other references say this either. The Holy Spirit does this when and where He wills. The use is determined NOT by the preacher, but by the Spirit. The preacher might preach the law with sanctification as his goal, but this does not mean that is the use to which it is put.

      My point is that the preacher should simply preach the text, including any "urging to good works" language we find Paul using. In this I think we agree. However, this is not "preaching sanctification" but rather simply the faithful preaching of the Word. The sanctification of believers is the Holy Spirit's work, not the prerogative of the preacher.

      If by "preaching sanctification" you actually mean teaching as Scripture does about the good works God calls us to do, then I suppose we do not have any disagreement other than this phrase "preaching sanctification." I could possibly agree with preaching "about" sanctification, but perhaps if we drop that language altogether all of us might agree with one another in this discussion. Nowhere in orthodox Lutheran writings have I ever read the phrase "preaching sanctification", and I do not think it maintains the pattern of sound words used in the Scriptures or Confessions.

  6. The problem, as I see it, is that some act as though it is wrong to tell a regenerate person how they should live in love and holiness. Instead, we should just talk about Jesus.

    1. The problem, as I see it, is that some act as though telling a regenerate person how they should live in love and holiness is mutually exclusive from talking about Jesus.

      How does a regenerate person live in love and holiness?

    2. First, my mistake from above is that it was not the woman at the well to whom Jesus said, "go and sin no more." My apologies.

      Second, I think we are getting to the core of our problem as preachers, and I include myself in this. I will go one step further than you Paul, all the while agreeing with what you say about some acting as though it is wrong to tell a regenerate person how they should live in love and holiness.

      Many of us as preachers (not speaking of any particular ones here) are afraid of preaching sanctification, because we already know people will fail because of the old man. Yet, this is not justification for not preaching sanctification to our new man.

      Here is the last thing Jesus said to the man healed at the pool in John 5: "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." Interesting. Did Jesus know he would sin again? Of course. Do we know people will sin again? Of course. Yet, how many of us would end a sermon with, "sin no more?"

      Our preaching is to be modeled after Jesus' preaching, regardless of how it will be heard.

    3. Does every sentence of a sermon need to include something about Jesus to be talking about Jesus? I'm just curious. I agree with you Tom that this is a false set of alternatives, a false dichotomy. But I read somewhere the other day this very thing. Someone wrote: "Why would we want to talk about good works when we could just talk about Jesus?" I frankly don't understand what in the world that means.

    4. Paul,

      If someone says to me, "Why would we want to talk about good works when we could just talk about Jesus?", my response is, "How in the world can you talk about Jesus apart from good works, and vice versa?" There are no good works apart from Jesus, are there?

  7. It is certainly not wrong to tell a regenerate person how they should live in love and holiness. This should certainly not be avoided (as it often is) when the text is clearly doing so. Such language has sanctification (the third use of the law) as its primary intent. But whose "intent" is it?

    I'm just arguing that the "use" is determined and employed by the Spirit, not the preacher. In that way, one does not "preach sanctification." Rather he preaches the whole counsel of God, which includes the law in all its fullness and the Gospel in all its sweetness.

    When the pastor preaches the text faithfully, the Spirit will decide on the use to which any of the law content is put, accusation and/or sanctification. You might have sanctification the intent of your preaching, but one cannot "preach sanctification" as an isolated entity as if it will only sanctify. That is the only reason I have difficulty with the term "preaching sanctification."

    The only thing the law ALWAYS does is accuse. It may also sanctify, but not because that is the intent of the preacher. The preacher must always consider the fact that what he is saying will always accuse. He should not, however, treat the law as if it ONLY accuses.

    I think we are all agreeing, right?

    1. I'm not sure, actually. If the preacher "should not" ... should not, mind you ... treat the law as if it ONLY accuses, then he cannot be faithful to the tenet that "the only thing the law ALWAYS does is accuse."

      In other words, "here's a rock-solid dictum; now go flip it off, as you will."

      I do enjoy reading the forensic exercises here, and I like Dr. Heidenreich and his marvelous crew ... but will some compassionate preacher of this page, please throw the floundering a life-preserver?

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor

  8. If I am not mistaken, the following distinction must be kept:

    The new man is righteous and without sin. The motivations of the new man are always good. The new man does nothing but good works. This is why sanctification is preached. The law never accuses the new man.

    The old man is unrighteous. The motivations of the old man are always evil. The old man does nothing but sin. This is why the law is preached as accusation, for the law always accuses the old man.

    Yes, we are both men (righteous and unrighteous, sinner and saint) at the same time. This is why the law "always" accuses the old man. I hope that we would not say that the law "always" accuses the new man, for this is a confusion of law and gospel, is it not?

  9. Rev. Grieve,

    We do not believe in some sort of dualism. Aren't we at present both sinner and saint in the same way that Christ is both God and man? In this life, can we treat the new and old man as if they are separate entities?

    Even if such a distinction can be made, I'm wondering how useful it is with regard to the question of how to preach to Christians. I am a sinner and I am a saint, but simultaneously. Therefore, I am not two men but one man. That one man is always accused by the law, even if you make the distinction you have. Theology is nothing if it is not pastoral theology, and I am failing to see a pastoral application for your distinction, at least regarding the subject of preaching.

    I also am wondering when you say the law never accuses the new man if that means that the law ALWAYS instructs the new man. In other words, with regard to the sinner/saint Christian, the law not only ALWAYS accuses, it also ALWAYS instructs? I'm not sure the law always instructs me.

    I'm also not sure that the new man can never hear the law as accusation. The new man is still well aware of the old man and his sin, and he knows that he is not two men but one man.

    The old man hears the accusation of the law and is slain by it. At the same time, the new man hears the accusation and acknowledges it boldly, responding like this: "I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also."

    1. The Law always accuses, and for a Christian the Law, through the Holy Spirit, always guides.

      AMMV (Antinomian mileage may vary).

    2. "...for a Christian the Law, through the Holy Spirit, always guides."

      Could you please point me to any orthodox Lutheran writings that claim the the Law ALWAYS guides the Christian?

    3. Erich Heidenreich, DDS asked on April 11, 2013 at 8:34 PM: "Could you please point me to any orthodox Lutheran writings that claim the the Law ALWAYS guides the Christian?"

      When I stated "The Law always accuses, and for a Christian the Law, through the Holy Spirit, always guides," I was referring to SD.VI.4, which states that "we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that although the truly believing and truly converted to God and justified Christians are liberated and made free from the curse of the Law, yet they should daily exercise themselves in the Law of the Lord, as it is written, Ps. 1, 2; 119, 1: Blessed is the man whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law doth he meditate day and night. For the Law is a mirror in which the will of God, and what pleases Him, are exactly portrayed, and which should [therefore] be constantly held up to the believers and be diligently urged upon them without ceasing."

    4. The law always should guide the Christian, but obviously it doesn't.

    5. "The law always should guide the Christian, but obviously it doesn't."

      First, the SD does not state that the "law always should guide the Christian," but rather the law "should [therefore] be constantly held up to the believers and be diligently urged upon them without ceasing." Here the SD's statement, "should [therefore] be constantly held up to believers," denies the opposition's position stated in paragraph 2. The law always guides the Christian but because of the old Adam, the Christian cannot perfectly follow.

      Before that the SD stated, "For the Law is a mirror in which the will of God," which never ceases for a Christian in this life. And as SD.VI.5 states, " For the Law of God has been written in their heart, and also to the first man immediately after his creation a law was given according to which he was to conduct himself. But the meaning of St. Paul is that the Law cannot burden with its curse those who have been reconciled to God through Christ; nor must it vex the regenerate with its coercion, because they have pleasure in God's Law after the inner man.

      Again this refers to the Christian. As SD.VI.17-18 state:

      "But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says, Rom. 8, 2 [Rom. 7, 23; 1 Cor. 9, 21].

      "But since believers are not completely renewed in this world, but the old Adam clings to them even to the grave, there also remains in them the struggle between the spirit and the flesh. Therefore they delight indeed in God's Law according to the inner man, but the law in their members struggles against the law in their mind; hence they are never without the Law, and nevertheless are not under, but in the Law, and live and walk in the Law of the Lord, and yet do nothing from constraint of the Law."

    6. Again, proper terminology is important. I think I may understand what you are saying, and I doubt we disagree on substance. However, saying "the law always guides the Christian" is misleading. Why don't we just stick with the pattern of sound words handed down to us? The confessors were very careful to word these matters in an orthodox manner. We have become much too loose with words, myself included. Our understanding of the importance of proper theological terminology is so impoverished in this modern age.

    7. Dear Dr. Heidenreich:

      I hear your issue with the terminology (even though I disagree with it). I don't see where "preaching sanctification" is any different than "preaching of sanctification" - which is grammatically the same as "sanctification's preaching." In fact, in Luther's "On the Councils of the Church," he uses identical grammar whether he is referring to "Easter preaching" (which he argues the evangelicals are very good at) and "Pentecost preaching" (which he argues the evangelicals are not so good at).

      So I hear you on the terminology issue, and agree that we are likely not disagreeing in substance.

      However, it needs to be pointed out that there are others in this discussion who are not objecting to the terminology, but to the actual substance of what Gerhard (and others, including the Book of Concord) are saying regarding sanctification and its homiletical appropriateness.

      Once again, a similar argument can be made for avoiding anything our culture considers Roman Catholic. Vestments, the sign of the cross, elevation, etc. should be avoided to avoid "confusion." I don't agree with that either. Our Book of Concord has no problem with sanctification and third use as part and parcel of the whole counsel of God, of our catholic faith - and I believe that is exactly what we are to preach: the whole counsel - which includes sanctification. These issues were problematic for Lutherans in the 16th century which is why so much was written about antinomianism, good works, sanctification, and the third use in the Formula of Concord. These topics were important then, and they are important now. We should ask ourselves why Lutheranism became a petri dish for antinomianism at least twice in our early history, as well as why it became necessary to add these articles in the FC.

    8. It would be misleading to say the actual phrase, "the law always guides the Christian," is stated in the Confessions. But in the passages I referenced the understanding of the phrase is there, so the phrase, "the law always guides the Christian," is valid.

      The alternative would be that the Holy Spirit's third use of the law is at some time(s) not present in a Christian, that is, the Christian is not being "led by the Holy Spirit", leaving only the Holy Spirit's second use of the law present in the Christian. This would conflict with the position stated in SD.VI.

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  11. Dr. Heidenreich,

    This is why I wrote "distinction" (this is new man and old man in one man) and not "dichotomy" (two separate men in one man). These are not mutually exclusive, but are, and must be kept distinct, in preaching also I think.

    I can understand how you may have thought that I was creating a dichotomy when I said we "are both men at the same time," as I should have been more clear. However, in the same context I also wrote that we are "righteous and unrighteous, sinner and saint at the same time."

    The law is "always" heard as accusation by the old man (flesh; Old Adam; sinner)(see Formula of Concord; Epitome; Of the Third Use of the Law; p. 805; par. 4; Triglotta). In the regenerate (new man; Spirit; saint) the law is heard differently, even though it is still law (see Formula of Concord; Solid Declaration; Of the Third Use of God's Law; p. 963 par. 1-5).

    This distinction should come out in the preaching of law and gospel itself. It really does not need to be forced. Having been made free from the curse of the law (justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ apart from the deeds of the law), yet not living without law, the regenerate exercise themselves in the "Law of the Lord" (par. 4 from p. 963 reference). The law no longer condemns those who are in Christ Jesus (new man), for they delight in, and love His law. The devil, the world, and our flesh still seek to condemn and accuse us, but the law does not do this to the new, regenerate man, for the law is fulfilled in Christ Jesus, its curse and accusation lifted.

    Of course you are right that the new man is still well aware of the old man and "his sin", but the new man is not thereby accused by this awareness. That accusation comes from the devil, the world, and the flesh (old man).

  12. Consider what Gerhard does in the quotation I used above: he actually talks about what the struggle for holiness in this life is like, and says its hard work. Saying that to people, preparing them and encouraging them for and in the struggle is as much a part of "preaching sanctification" as not being afraid to preach the Law as a guide.


    1. Pr. Curtis, I find so much in everything you have written that I agree wholeheartedly with. I think my arguments boil down to primarily having a problem with this phrase "preaching sanctification". Is there a reason it is always in quotation marks? From whom or where does it come? Where do we find this phrase first being used? The first place I ever heard it in Lutheran circles was in discussions Rev. Paul McCain was involved in about five or six years ago. Before that, it appears it was used almost exclusively by Pentecostals. Can't we Lutherans come up with a more orthodox phrase than "preaching sanctification" to label this important topic? I do not think it accurately reflects what you are talking about.

    2. Maybe it comes from Walther's affirmation of the phrase from Luther (citing On the Councils of the Church, which is available in English in our AE Vol 41):

      "They are excellent preachers of the Easter truth, but miserable preachers of the truth of Pentecost. For there is nothing in their preaching concerning sanctification of the Holy Ghost and about being quickened into a new life. They preach only about the redemption of Christ. It is proper to extol Christ in our preaching; but Christ is the Christ and has acquired redemption from sin and death for this very purpose that the Holy Spirit should change our Old Adam into a new man, that we are to be dead unto sin and live unto righteousness, as Paul teaches Rom. 6:2 ff., and that we are to begin this change and increase in this new life here and consummate it hereafter. For Christ has gained for us not only grace (gratiam), but also the gift (donum) of the Holy Ghost, so that we obtain from Him not only forgiveness of sin, but also the ceasing from sin.”

      Martin Luther, On The Councils and the Churches, quoted by Dr. C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel : 39 Evening Lectures, p. 121, as cited here:

      I think exhorting believers to live the new life is part of our pastoral duty. It is done not only in private pastoral care but in our public proclamation. I agree with Luther that we are to proclaim Christ and to be Easter preachers, but not at the expense of also being Pentecost preachers. After all, we are preaching to Christians, and we do affirm the Third Use in our confessions. I'm not really sure what the issue is here other than the desire not to be confused with Pentecostals because they also speak of the Holy Spirit and sanctification. This strikes me as being not that different from refusing to cross oneself because the Roman Catholics do it. We confess sanctification as a doctrine of our faith, and I believe preachers ought to proclaim the whole council of God even if it makes some people a little antsy in the pews (and in fact, maybe that is evidence that we need more sanctification preaching).

      Just my two cents.

    3. Dear Dr. Heidenreich:

      Also, consider LC Brief Exhortation 6-7 (Tappert 457-8): "The rabble who will not obey the Gospel deserve just such a jailer as God's devil and hangman. To others who hear it gladly, however, we must always preach, exhorting, encouraging, and persuading them not to lose this precious and comforting treasure which the Gospel offers"

      Also: SD Ep 4:18 (Tappert 477): "Especially in these last times, it is just as necessary to exhort people to Christian discipline and good works, and to remind them how necessary it is that they exercise themselves in good works as an evidence of their faith and their gratitude toward God, as it is to warn against mingling good works in the article of justification. Such an Epicurian dream concerning faith can damn people as much as a papistic and Pharisaic confidence in one's own works and merit."

    4. The phrase first came to me via homiletics classes at CSL - I can't say that I know the origins. It's in quotes as a common phrase over which there has been much debate in our circles. Can you provide a citation from Pentecostal sources?

      I think Fr. Beane has done a good job of pointing out that the idea is thoroughly Lutheran. Call it exhortation, encouragement, third use, or "preaching like the second half of any of Paul's epistles." Call what you like: it's part of preaching the whole counsel of God.


    5. Fr. Beane,

      Maybe I'm just missing something in this debate, but I find myself experiencing the same sort of discomfort felt by Dr. Heidenreich. How do we exhort believers to live the new life (Christian discipline and good works), except through the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ's Name? If we have preached the Law in its full sternness and the Gospel in its full sweetness, neither Epicurean dreams concerning faith nor papistic and Pharisaic confidence in works and merit will have gone forth from our pulpits.

      If we are true Pentecost preachers, we will preach as the beloved apostles preached at Pentecost, which is a far cry from the sort of preaching done by Pentecostals, which I know you know full well. Such preaching will only and always lead our hearers to font, pulpit, and altar - to Jesus. How does a Christian exercise himself in Christian discipline and good works, in the putting away of sin and obedience to Christ, except to abide in Christ? He is the Vine, we are the branches; apart from Him, we can do nothing.

      It seems to me that there can be no preaching of sanctification sans the preaching of Christ. If there is any growth in sanctification this side of glory, it is only growth into Christ, who is our sanctification. What is the fruit of faith in Christ, except the fruit of repentance and clinging to Christ alone for forgiveness, life, and salvation? Good works flow naturally and spontaneously from such faith. They cannot be measured or quantified. "When did we do these things, Lord?"

      I don't know how to preach the Third Use of the Law. I only know how to preach the Law. And, I haven't a clue how to "preach sanctification," except to preach Law and Gospel. I certainly don't preach Law and Gospel in such a way as to give my hearers the idea that they should have an "anything-goes-I'm Baptized carefree attitude toward sin," so that they get lost in Epicurean dreams of faith. Far from it! But, neither do I re-hammer them with the Law after applying the sweet balm of the Gospel, which evidently makes my preaching deficient in the minds of some Lutherans. So be it. I'm sticking with this formula, since I am blessed to see its fruits in the people I serve. I can honestly say that, after nearly eight years of preaching (and teaching) Law and Gospel, I don't know of a single active member in the congregation I serve who exhibits an "anything-goes-I'm Baptized carefree attitude toward sin." Rather, I see an increase in Christian discipline, holy living, piety and devotion, love and charity, i.e. branches of the Vine bearing the fruit of repentance and faith in Christ.

      But, again, maybe I'm just missing something in this debate. What scares me is the idea I hear from some Lutherans that we have to move beyond the Gospel. I just received a pretty scathing email from a Lutheran this morning, who took me to the wood shed for stating that the mark of the Christian is not obedience, but Jesus. This fella thinks I'm leading people to hell because I don't end every sermon by telling them what they need to get busy doing as Christians (because, you know, that whole business wasn't at all covered in my preaching of the Law). Included in the message was this little nugget: "You are drunk on the Gospel! Preaching the Gospel is not enough! Good works and obedience must always follow the Gospel, else the Gospel become meaningless." What the?! Then, that was followed by three quotes from Luther (always fun to play "Dueling Luther Quotes"), and concluded thusly: "You, sir, are a disgrace to the church and no man of God!"

      Now, I enjoy a good scolding with my morning coffee as much as the next guy, but if this message I received is what being more sanctified looks like, count me out. I'll stick with Jesus. :)

    6. Well said Pr. Beane and Pr. Curtis.

      Just as one does not need to use the word "repent" in a sermon in order to be "preaching repentance," neither does one need to use the word "sanctification" in a sermon to be "preaching sanctification."

      We do not preach "about Jesus" anymore than we preach "about repentance," preach "about sanctification," or preach "about forgiveness." We preach Jesus, we preach repentance, we preach forgiveness, and we preach sanctification.

      I hope one would not argue against "preaching Jesus," "preaching repentance," "preaching sanctification," or "preaching forgiveness" as if this simply takes care of itself by some magic trick of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, the church may as well call and send robots into the pulpit on Sunday mornings rather than a flesh and blood man who has been called by the Holy Spirit to preach the whole counsel of God.

      The confessions citations I listed above do not have to have the words "preach sanctification" in them in order for this teaching to be imbedded in the text of the confessions, anymore than the name Jesus needs to appear in the Old Testament scriptures in order for all of them to concern Jesus.

      The phrase "preaching sanctification" is orthodox. Let us pastors employ it in its biblical and confessional usage.

    7. Dear Father Thomas:

      I haven't heard anyone say: "Preach sanctification, but exclude Christ."

      My take is that we should preach the entire counsel of God. In Christ there is justification. In Christ there is sanctification. Of course, justification is the chief article, but our own confession will raise the eyebrows of a lot of Lutherans: "Especially in these last times, it is just as necessary to exhort people to Christian discipline and good works, and to remind them how necessary it is that they exercise themselves in good works as evidence of their faith and their gratitude toward God, as it is to warn against the mingling good works in the article of justification" (FC Ep 4:18).

      Maybe a guide to preaching sanctification can be found in Romans 12, where St. Paul is exhorting his hearers to produce fruits that spring from their free and full salvation by grace alone.

      A good coach doesn't merely correct his players when they make mistakes, he also instructs and encourages them how to do better. I think there is an analogy in pastoral care - which is the difference between merely teaching systematic theology and actually applying this theology as pastoral care to real people in the real parish. We Lutherans have surrendered the field on this out of fear of falling off the horse on the left side, only to fall off on the right side, leaving our parishioners - who live in a real fallen world and need real encouragement - with a few Jesus-slogans, some Latin phrases from Pieper's Dogmatics, and Luther's famous quip to "sin boldly." And sometimes the Old Adam misses the nuance in that statement, confuses grace with license, and we end of repeating the two previous (and destructive to the Gospel) antinomian controversies in our Lutheran past (which required the corrective Good Words and Third Use confessions in the Formula of Concord).

      Let's preach the whole counsel of God to our flocks without worrying what the Methodists or the Roman Catholics or the Baptists or the Pentecostals are doing. I think we Lutherans are sometimes too reactive. We won't cross ourselves because we're not Roman Catholic. We won't preach sanctification because we're not Methodists. We won't make use of icons because we're not Eastern Orthodox. At some point we need to stop looking at what everyone else is doing (and sometimes badly) and focus on doing well what we have been called to do.

      I think a good study on how to do this might be to examine the use of the word παρακαλέω in the New Testament.

    8. Fr. Larry,

      I haven't heard anyone say: "Preach sanctification, but exclude Christ."

      Well, good, since such would be impossible. But, then, what in the world are we arguing about?

      It seems to me that this whole ongoing debate has been contrived by those who consider themselves better (and more sanctified) Lutherans. The problem I have is that brothers for whom I have much love and admiration seem to have gotten sucked up into it. It's reminiscent of the oft-repeated accusations that "liturgical pietism" is a big problem among us. There is, for some, this perfect, middle-of-the-road Lutheranism that only they have figured out, which avoids all the ditches into which the rest of us slobs have gone tumbling.

      So, when you say things like, "We Lutherans have surrendered the field on this out of fear of falling off the horse on the left side, only to fall off on the right side, leaving our parishioners - who live in a real fallen world and need real encouragement - with a few Jesus-slogans, some Latin phrases from Pieper's Dogmatics, and Luther's famous quip to 'sin boldly,'" I need some evidence, just as I need evidence that "the Gottesdienst Crowd" is guilty of "liturgical pietism" and leading many away from authentic Lutheranism with their love of pomp and circumstance.

      I think what you, and others, see as evidence of some new-and-improved Antinomian problem among us is nothing more than some of our brethren reacting against the false accusations being hurled at them. It begins by someone pointing out that there are some among us who wear "Weak on Sanctification" T-shirts, and the quotes from Luther and our Confessions begin flowing in a perpetual tide against these woefully confused Lutherans. The reaction? Go buy more "Weak on Sanctification" T-shirts, come up with some Jesus-slogans, Latin phrases from Pieper, and start exalting Luther's famous quip to "sin boldly." It all makes for much ado about nothing, but the constant internet entanglements which ensue sure are entertaining.

      Based on what I've actually heard from hither and yon throughout our synod, I'm far more concerned with the motivational messages and self-help talks that come from many of our pulpits than I am with some supposed deficiency in preaching sanctification among the brethren who are accused of such. I've heard our own Fr. Petersen's preaching being ripped to shreds by the more sanctified crowd among us, since, in their esteemed estimation, he almost always concludes with the Gospel. God forbid! Funny thing, I have never encountered a Petersen sermon that didn't both kill me with the Law and enliven me with the Gospel, the end result being my desire to strive against sin and increase in Christian discipline and good works. Weird how that works. I could say the same of your preaching, brother (as well as the preaching of Frs. Curtis, Stuckwisch, Eckardt, Beisel, and so forth).

      I think we just need to keep preaching the Law in its full sternness and the Gospel in its full sweetness (repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ's Name, as He Himself has charged us), and the let the Holy Spirit do His thing.

      My $.04.

    9. Dear Tom:

      If you really want examples, I will share some things with you in private. I am really concerned that if I were to recite to you the things I have seen and heard pastors say and do in order to prove that we're not pietists and to show just how "Lutheran" they are in burying sanctification under the Chief Article, it would truly harm people's faith.

      We do have a problem in the LCMS.

      We also have the solution: Christ crucified preached - the whole counsel preached, law and gospel preached, justification AND sanctification preached. I think the Book of Romans - all of it - provides a way to preach Christ centered sanctification.

      Just as works-righteousness is the Achilles heel of Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, antinomianism is our cross.

  13. Pr. Beane, with all due respect, none of those citations use the phrase "preaching sanctification". I very much like the language used in the sources you cite. Perhaps I'm just being OCD about language.

    Pr. Curtis, thanks for your answer. I agree that the idea this phrase represents for you is entirely Lutheran. I just am having difficulty with the phrase itself. My searches have turned up numerous uses of this term in the "holiness" movements of Methodism and Pentecostalism. As for Pentecostal sources here are some examples:

    "preaching sanctification, ... the doctrine is taught so vaguely that many fail to get sight of something definite which they may have in their own lives,"

    From "The pursuit of holiness: A Roman Catholic-Pentecostal dialogue" - E. S. Williams as quoted by Stanley M. Horton, "The Pentecostal Perspective," in Melvin E. Dieter et al, Five Views on Sanctification (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic Books, 1987), p. 112, from P.C. Nelson, Bible Doctrines, rev. ed. (Springfield, MO: Gospel, 1948), p. 108.

    And here is another example from the Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research: "The opposition he faced there for preaching sanctification--he was turned out of the school building and threatened with whips..."

    And here is an example from a 1959 sermon by "divine healing movement" Pentecostal, Rev. William M. Branham: "Then after Martin Luther, preaching justification, John Wesley come along preaching sanctification. And he preached that a man, after being justified... It's all right--but you've got to be sanctified, cleansed, the root of evil taken out of you by the Blood of Jesus. Now, you can't expect the Lutherans to preach sanctification, 'cause they're not going to do it. After Wesley preached Sanctification, and many little break-offs from it..."

    By comparison, I do not find Lutherans using this term, at least in speaking solely about Lutheran doctrine and preaching, until it pops up in the debates within our circles that you have alluded to. Around 2007 the term is being debated in discussions Rev. Paul McCain is involved in. There are a few minor mentions of it prior to that, but mostly in questions about the subject. And, I cannot find the phrase "preaching sanctification" in any respected orthodox Lutheran sources. However, I do find the subject about which you are speaking - just not identified as "preaching sanctification."

    Actually, it seems the term "preaching sanctification" has been used by Methodists and Pentecostals to identify their form of preaching in contrast to their caricature of Lutherans "preaching justification". That seems to be the logical usage of the term, and it appears to create a false dichotomy between sanctification and justification.

    Since you are rightly arguing that preachers should hold to the pattern of sound words found in Scripture regarding the preaching of good works, wouldn't you like to hold to the pattern of sound words when labeling the subject itself? Why not "preaching about good works"?

  14. Dear Dr. Heidenreich:

    I think this reveals the danger of Theology by Google. If you google "sign of the cross" you will likely find all kinds of sources indicating that this is a Roman Catholic practice. Many Lutherans actually cite this as an argument that we should shun the practice.

    The word "sanctification" - like "justification" is indeed embedded in our historic Lutheran confession. And even though the word "Trinity" doesn't appear in the Bible doesn't mean we need to find a biblical circumlocution around the word "Trinity." In fact, there are all kinds of words in our creeds that do not appear in the Bible - which some Christians cite as an argument to do away with creedal language and confession.

    Your reaction is admittedly visceral rather than a critique of false doctrine or practice.

    Peace in Christ!

  15. Pr. Beane,

    I'm sorry you think I am being "visceral" and that I am doing theology by Google. In the course of this discussion I have consulted quite a few "hard copy" Lutheran sources taken from my extensive theological library here at home. I would hope you might have a little more respect for me and the clear point I am making. It is not "visceral" and did not arise from Google. I'd appreciate your opinion on my argument rather than characterizations about its origins. Again, the primary argument I am making has come down to this:

    The term "preaching sanctification" has been used by Methodists and Pentecostals to identify their form of preaching in contrast to their caricature of Lutherans "preaching justification". That seems to be the logical usage of the term, and its use appears to create a false dichotomy between sanctification and justification. That false dichotomy is what I hear others being concerned about in this discussion, and I don't think any of you intend to create such a false dichotomy.

    I am not the only person who is troubled by this term, and I wish these concerns would be taken seriously. I think you would find much more agreement about the subject itself if this phrase was avoided in favor of something else like "preaching about good works." Why are any of you so adamant that the phrase "preaching sanctification" is the best way to refer to what otherwise is a very Lutheran concept? Do you find that term valuable because of the knee-jerk reaction you appear to get out of many of us whenever we see it? Is that why you say I am just being "visceral"?

    I don't think my point is that easy to dismiss. It is not just visceral, but rather arises from a firm orthodox understanding of the pattern of strong words handed down to us from Scripture and the Confessions. No one has been able to provide a single orthodox Lutheran source using the specific term "preaching sanctification." There are many other sound words that could be used instead, and I strongly suggest that they be employed.

    1. Dear Dr. Heideinreich,

      Your argument in favor of using the phrase "preaching about good works" over and against the phrase "preaching sanctification" is troubling to say the least. Are you trying to argue that there is no misunderstanding about the terminology "preaching about good works," but there is only misunderstanding about the phrase "preaching sanctification?" That seems to be the straw man in the midst of construction here, whether it is your intention or not. How do you suppose the Roman Catholics define the phrase "preaching about good works?" How about the Arminians, or the functional Arminians in the LCMS? What about the ELCA?

      Preaching sanctification does not create a dichotomy between preaching justification, anymore than preaching faith creates a dichotomy between preaching repentance. Repentance and faith go hand in hand, and that is orthodox. Justification and sanctification go hand in hand, and that is orthodox. I think you may be forgetting that Lutheran terminology did not originate in a 16th century vacuum.

      I think your concern is being taken seriously, or else no one would be responding.

    2. Rev. Grieve, the fact that others define orthodox terms improperly does not stop us from using those orthodox terms in their proper sense. "Preaching sanctification" is not an orthodox term.

    3. Dear Dr. H:

      Actually, I think Heath Curtis and I are both orthodox sources, don't you? ;-)

      I like the term "preaching sanctification." You dislike the term. You're not going to forbid me from using it, and I'm not going to mandate that you use it. We could compromise and just call it "Fred." That solves the terminology problem.

      The bigger issue, as I see it, is that there is an antinomianism rearing its head among some of our confessional brethren. I believe this has dogged Lutheranism from the sixteenth century onward - as Satan is always stirring up our Old Adams.

      Lord have mercy!

  16. I think everyone is just talking past each other, as is usually the case with these online discussions.

    The only point I am trying to make is that as pastors we are to preach the "whole counsel of God." If a preacher does not teach people the good works they are to be doing, then he is not preaching "the whole counsel of God." I don't think every sermon has to include the "whole counsel of God" necessarily, but throughout the course of the year, there should be ample opportunity to treat some of these subjects. I actually think Fritz has some helpful things to say about preaching in one of the appendices of his Pastoral Theology in this regard.

    "A third defect of preaching must be mentioned in this connection, to wit, that, if a preacher always preaches on repentance and faith, but never says anything about the necessity of good works, he does not fully instruct his people concerning good works. Much more can be accomplished by simply showing wherein a Christian life really consists than by insisting, with all manner of threats and warnings, that it is necessary. Says Luther: 'My antinomians preach very well and, as I am forced to believe, in all sincerity on the grace of Christ, on forgiveness of sins and whatever belongs to salvation; but that which must result from such teaching they avoid as much as they do the devil himself, that is, they do not tell the people what the Third Article teaches on sanctification or on the Christian life; for they believe that the people should not be frightened or be made sorrowful, but that one should always preach very comfortingly on the grace and forgiveness of sins in Christ and never address people somewhat in the following manner: Listen, you desire to be a Christian, and yet are an adulterer, whoremonger, a drunkard, proud, covetous, a usurer, envious, revengeful, malicious, etc.; but rather as follows: Listen, you are an adulterer, a whoremonger, a covetous man, or otherwise a sinner, but just believe, then you will be saved; you need not fear the Law, for Christ has fulfilled it for you. My dear man, tell me, is that not admitting the premise and denying the conclusion which must be drawn from it? That really is equivalent to taking Christ away and making Him of none effect at the very time when He is being preached most exaltingly. It is all yes and no in one breath; for there is no such Christ who died for sinners as, after receiving forgiveness, will not cease from sin and lead a new life..."

    One can say, "Why talk about good works when I can talk about Jesus" all they want, but without such talk, the real Christ has not been preached. Which, is essentially what Pastor Messer has been saying.

    1. I agree, Pr. Beisel, that everyone is just talking past each other. It is my strong belief that one of the reasons (if not the main reason) is this term "preaching sanctification" which sounds like it creates a false dichotomy with "preaching justification".

    2. Here are some examples of preaching sanctification that is different than 1st and 2nd uses:

      * Encouraging people to fast
      * Encouraging people to attend Divine Services on Wednesday evenings during Lent
      * Encouraging husbands to take a more active role as the spiritual head of the household
      * Encouraging families to watch less TV and read the scriptures more
      * Encouraging members to increase their offerings and practice better stewardship
      * Encourage a culture of welcoming visitors and strangers, of hospitality and increased love and patience between the brethren, etc.

      For "It is taught among us that good works should and must be done, not that we are to rely on them to earn grace, but that we may do God's will and glorify Him" (AC 20:27).

      Notice the word "encouraging" - which is a form of exhortation. These are practical, real life applications of our orthodox, grace-based, christocentric theology. Such statements are not necessarily calls to repent (2nd use of the law), nor are they declarations of the Gospel. And so the people in the parish who (as one of my former members did) print sermons and underline the "law" statements in one color and the "gospel" statements in another, will not know what to do with this other than dismiss it as somehow "unLutheran." Nobody is saying that preaching sanctification should be apart from Christ nor that it should predominate. But it is certainly part of the "whole counsel" and we Lutherans should not run away from it or shirk our duty to preach what Christ and the apostles preached.

      The epistles of the NT are filled (filled!) with this kind of exhortation for us Christians living in the fallen world. Pastors are in turn exhorted to exhort and encourage their flocks to do good works - not to obtain or earn forgiveness, not as a payment or precondition for salvation, but as a thank offering to the Lord for the good of the kingdom (e.g. Romans 12:1, Matt 5:16).

      The problem is that pastors who do offer "practical" exhortations in their preaching are looked upon with suspicion, as though they are secretly reading Joel Osteen books. I could see the point if such preachers are removing Christ or making good works a condition for justification. But as far as I can tell, neither Heath nor I are being accused of this, are we?

  17. I have heard it rightly said that one should not "preach about Jesus" but rather "preach Jesus." I am arguing that the opposite is true with regard to sanctification. One does not "preach sanctification" but rather "preaches about sanctification."

    1. Dear Dr. Heidenreich,

      I was not speaking about the term in the post above, but rather about the thing itself, which is why we are talking past each other. We could get hung up on any number of terms, but until we move past the term in and of itself and get to the meaning, this is fruitless.

      This would be the same if we were hung up on the term "preaching justification." If we do not get past the term, the definition will not matter to anyone, since we will have already thrown out the term. Preaching is not terms in and of itself. Preaching is not "about" things, as preaching is not abstract. Preaching is not "about justification" anymore than preaching is "about sanctification." Preaching is doctrine and life, and this doctrine and life includes preaching Jesus, justification, sanctification, sin, death, forgiveness, salvation, good works, etc.

      I think you need to read again what I wrote above. I wrote that justification and sanctification go hand in hand, and that is orthodox. I wrote that repentance and faith go hand in hand, and that is orthodox. The phrase "preaching sanctification" is orthodox because it does flow out of justification, which is another orthodox term. No one here is arguing that "preaching sanctification" is its own entity. The preaching of sanctification flows from other orthodox doctrines.

      If a term must appear in its verbatim form in order to be used and taught, I guess we better start throwing out many terms that have been used by the Christian and apostolic Church since the time of the apostles. We do not just preach the resurrection, but death and resurrection. We do not just preach sanctification, but justification and sanctification. We do not just preach sin, but sin and salvation.

    2. Pr. Grieve, I don't think we disagree on the "thing" itself. However, I will maintain my objection to the term "preaching sanctification" unless someone can kindly show that the reasons I oppose it are in error.

      "Preaching justification" and "preaching forgiveness" are fine orthodox terms. Why? Because preaching the Gospel is declarative. It actually forgives sins! "Preaching sanctification" does not sanctify. This is why it is a very different thing to "preach Jesus" rather than preaching about Jesus.

      One cannot "preach sanctification". Why? Preaching about good works does not bring about sanctification. It instructs the believer about good works. This important distinction should be maintained in the terms we use to describe the various aspects of preaching. I believe this is why you cannot find any historical writings of orthodox Lutherans in which the term "preaching sanctification" is used, while you can find plenty of references to "preaching forgiveness" and "preaching justification."

      "Preaching sanctification" is a term that is best left to those who believe "preaching sanctification" actually brings about sanctification. It is unwise to adopt theological terms that have no Lutheran heritage, especially when they are already in use by non-Lutherans to describe non-Lutheran theology (as the references I provided above show).

      Pr. Bean, I certainly have no authority to "forbid" anyone from using the term. You say you "like" it. I can't argue with that. However, I do wonder why you like this term so much. How is the term "preaching sanctification" better than "preaching about sanctification" or "preaching about good works"? I really am interested.

      I think I have made some valid arguments as to why these other terms are more orthodox and better identify what you are talking about. I also think avoiding the term "preaching sanctification" would reduce the knee-jerk reaction you get from some Lutherans when talking about this very important and very Lutheran topic. The term just doesn't sound right, and for good reason.

      I'm sorry if I have belabored this point too much. I'll be quiet about it now.

    3. A quote from "In Christ: The Collected Works of David P. Scaer; Lutheran Confessor." The article is titled, "Preaching Sanctification."

      "The Gospel pericope appointed for the day can serve the sanctification sermon. One need not look for special proof texts. Preaching sanctification is only a necessary corollary of Law-Gospel, which is the message of the entire Scriptures. Still, the need to preach a specific kind of sanctification sermon generally results from problems threatening the congregation. The Lutheran pastor will avoid parading society's ills from the pulpit as "evangelical" preachers do. The purpose of preaching sanctification is to create and confirm faith in Christ, not to raise the community's moral level. A sermon decrying the corruption of city hall may have political value, but it is not preaching sanctification. On the contrary, such preaching may make the listener feel morally good about himself in comparison. This is exactly what we do not want to do! It is also without New Testament precedent. Even in the prophetic declamations of Israel's sins and those of her neighbors are in the context of their failure to recognize Israel's Lord as the only God. Paul mentions the man living with his father's wife (1 Cor. 5:1), but ignores the public immorality in Corinth. The corrupt social conditions in the ancient world may make for a fetching introduction, but it does little more than show that the preacher passed isagogics."

  18. Pr Beane wrote:
    "Here are some examples of preaching sanctification that is different than 1st and 2nd uses:

    * Encouraging people to fast
    * Encouraging people to attend Divine Services on Wednesday evenings during Lent
    * Encouraging husbands to take a more active role as the spiritual head of the household
    * Encouraging families to watch less TV and read the scriptures more
    * Encouraging members to increase their offerings and practice better stewardship
    * Encourage a culture of welcoming visitors and strangers, of hospitality and increased love and patience between the brethren, etc."

    Please explain how the Old Adam cannot but hear these as 2nd use accusations? Or worse, self-justify himself as having done them all? Thank you.

  19. Dear Michael:

    This is a great question! Sanctification isn't directed at the Old Adam. We are both saint and sinner, and we preach to the whole man.

    There is a similar paradox in preaching the Gospel, since unbelievers will hear it much differently than believers - and yet, we are called to boldly preach the Gospel nonetheless. We don't stop preaching the Gospel on account of unbelievers or unregenerate who may hear it and misapply it.

    I guess this is why preaching involves the "whole counsel" - because there are Old and New Adams, believers and unbelievers, tax collectors and Pharisees (even in the same skin!) all hearing the same sermon. We are saved through faith alone. But faith without works is dead. We need to hold this Paul-James tension in our preaching and not attempt to mothball one or the other.

    Thanks be to God that the Holy Spirit directs us from both polar errors of works-righteousness and antinomianism, from both delusional pride and tragic despair, by giving us this tension!

    1. "Sanctification isn't directed at the Old Adam."

      But you have no control over that, do you?

      When can *any* 3rd use preaching *not* be heard by the Old Adam?

      The Law always condemns.

      And that's a good thing, because Christ died for all sins, sins of commission as well as sins of omission (against which "preaching sanctification" is).

    2. Dear Michael:

      I hear what you're saying.

      In the same way, an unbeliever hears Gospel as Law and Law as Gospel - and yet we don't recoil from crafting "law and gospel" sermons out of fear that we have no control over who is hearing it how. In other words, a preacher doesn't just preach whatever. He does preach with deliberate law and gospel in mind, with the gospel predominating - even though someone can always retort - "but the Old Adam is hearing the law predominate."

      The same is true for sanctification. An unbeliever, a hypocrite, the Old Adam, etc. is going to hear the same statements differently. The preacher writes a sermon, and the Holy Spirit will use it as He sees fit. Yet this is no excuse to shy away from sanctification out of fear that someone may not hear it correctly.

      Again, the best preachers are Jesus and the apostles. They do not shy from sanctification in their preaching, just as they do not shy from both Law and Gospel - the Old Adam's and the unbeliever's misuse (willful or not) notwithstanding.

      There is a proper way to preach sanctification, and an improper way (just as there is a right and wrong way to preach the law and the gospel). But this does not mean the right way is not to do it, or pretend there is no third use of the law for believers, or to assume that believers don't need any encouragement or exhortation (which is why God in His mercy has provided a third use for us). Otherwise, we need to ignore huge chunks of the epistles - not to mention our Lord's preaching.

      Interestingly, the ones who most object to sanctification preaching are the very believers for whom the third use is intended! It calls to mind Luther's dictum that when you throw a stick into a pack of dogs, the one that howls is the one that got hit. I think Lutheran sermons have been so lacking in sanctification that when we hear it, it kind of shocks us - kind of like when we read some of Luther's sermons. I've quoted them without saying who they were, and people have told me that the preacher was no Lutheran. One person even guessed that it was the Pope!

      But then again, Luther was often not much of a Lutheran. ;-)

  20. What is distressing and troubling in all of this, even though the distinctions that have been made here are quite clear (even from the confessions) is what some are saying about what I will call "so-called sanctification preaching."

    Here is what preaching sanctification is not:
    * Re-hammering with the law after the gospel. If you are hammering, you are preaching the 2nd use, which ALWAYS accuses and kills.
    * If you are preaching that your good works make you better than others, you are not preaching sanctification, but instead, Pharisaical preaching.
    Another quote from Dr. Scaer: "A related caveat: a sanctification sermon cannot be preached to raise the general moral level. Godly living cannot be quantified and morally measured in persons or congregations. This is exactly what the Pharisees wanted to do. Each person must conclude that he and not someone else is addressed as the sinner. That's the goal."
    * Preaching "about" good works is not preaching sanctification.
    * Preaching sanctification as though one is "more sanctified" than others is not preaching sanctification.
    By the way, Dr. Scaer has a section in his aforementioned article titled "What a Sanctification Sermon is Not." I suggest we read it.

    Oh...and before I forget, he also has a section titled "Genuine Sanctification Preaching."
    If our problem is that we are afraid "how" someone will hear something, then we probably will not preach sanctification. If 3rd use is heard as 2nd use, this is the old man. If 3rd use is heard for what it is, namely sanctification, the new man is hearing. The sinner/saint paradigm does not go away in preaching sanctification. No one has suggested that it does, if this is the accusation being made by some.

    Jesus Christ speaks the truth in love. This past Sunday in my sermon, I said "you do the same." This is thoroughly Christ-centered preaching. I was not "encouraging" anyone to do anything new and outside the counsel of God. If people heard this as 2nd use, that was their old man. To "encourage" believers to live as the new man they have been called to be is not 2nd use, nor is it apart from Jesus Christ.

    If we are this uptight about "preaching sanctification," perhaps we should begin by removing all the 3rd use sections of the confessions. I wonder how the man who was healed at the pool in John 5 heard Jesus' words, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." Actually, it does not matter how he heard those words, since God saw to it that we heard no more about him. In the end, all that matters is that Jesus said it.

    I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion, and have learned much from it, as it has urged me to study this more.

    1. "Here is what preaching sanctification is not:
      * Re-hammering with the law after the gospel. If you are hammering, you are preaching the 2nd use, which ALWAYS accuses and kills."

      Is is a matter of degree? Or is it a matter of Law, period?

    2. Dear Michael,

      It is a matter of all of its 3 uses. You have brought out a good point here. It is a matter of distinction, not degree. The struggle of properly distinguishing law and gospel is akin to the struggle of properly distinguishing the old man and the new man. The law comes to believers in its 3 uses. It is the new man who hears sanctification when it is preached.

      The 1st use (outward discipline) and the 2nd use (accusation, condemnation, killing) are aimed at the flesh, since the old man must be killed. It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway, that we also need to hear these uses of the law in preaching, since we still have the Old Adam about our necks.

      The new man is the one who hears sanctification preaching for what it is, precisely because he is the new man: "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all." (Colossians 3:9-11)

      This is not about creating two men, but about recognizing that there are two men at work in the one human being, be it man, woman, or child. It is also not about creating multiple laws, since there is only God's law in all of its good, right and salutary uses.

  21. This conversation is extremely encouraging. Gerhard is exactly right.

  22. Hello all. A great conversation here.

    I invite you to check out this report I just did on a most insightful paper from a recent conference up in MN. about legalism and antinomianism:

    Like a glove....



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