Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Righteousness of Faith



Those who lack a child-like faith will not enter the Kingdom of God. By Norma Boeckler.


KJV John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. 8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on Me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

The historic lectionary helps us by making us repeat sermons on the same lesson, learning more each time. The congregation also learns more and grows in understanding and faith.

Here I dealt with the first order of the Holy Spirit's work, to convict the world of sin, "because they do not believe in Me."

If it is sinful to lack faith in Christ, then no one is forgiven without faith. I was struck by the way the Intrepids eviscerated the false doctrine of the Walking Together Rah-Ray WELS sermon, without a reaction. WELS opposes justification by faith...consistently. So, what's for supper?

Part II of this lesson is very important because of the term righteousness. I have to admit I always stumbled at the connection between "see Me no more" and righteousness, not to mention "go to the Father." This year it really sunk in because I read Luther and Lenski all over again.

The righteousness of faith is the topic of Part II. What is righteousness, or justification, or forgiveness? The answer is - " because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more."

That can be worded as "because you will see me risen from the dead and ascending to the Father." The empty grave could have remained sealed. Jesus did not need the angels to open the sealed, stone lid of the tomb. Only the Reformed and the Shrinkers believe that.

O Love, how strong Thou art to save!
Thou beddest Him within the grave
Whose Word the mountains rendeth. (Paul Gerhardt)

The empty tomb and the Ascension were for the disciples and for us. Jesus displayed His victory over sin, death, and Satan. He taught His disciples and the 500--as the Risen Christ--to establish the Christian faith upon His death and resurrection, to establish their trust in Him forever.

KJV Romans 4:22 And therefore it was imputed [counted, reckoned] to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

This atonement or reconciliation is counted as our "if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead."

Notice how the favorite citation for Universal Objective Justification--forgiveness without faith--is found nestled in a justification by faith passage. That is what I mean about the dishonesty of UOJ advocates. They shame the Church of Rome in twisting Scripture and getting away with it. And this selected and twisted passage is the backbone for the Brief Statement's UOJ, the sine qua non of Missouri fanaticism, WELS Kokomoism, ELS Me-tooism.

Believing in Christ, with a child-like faith, is justification - God's declaration of forgiveness.

The only way this happens is through the Means of Grace. God has appointed the Word and Sacraments to convey Christ to us in teaching, preaching, Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. Some like to argue about how many Means of Grace exist, but they are all manifestations of the Word of God. A family member says, "I forgive you" without being anxious about numbering. Confession and absolution should not trouble us with a numbering scheme. If we treat ordination as a sacrament, with all the solemnities of a once-in-a-lifetime event, we should not be so quick to say, "But it's not a sacrament." These terms are like grammar rules, applied after the fact. People who argue about grammar rules need a hobby or a good video game.

The divine power of the Means of Grace is the effective Word. Some people are reading this now just to see how they can find fault with it and bray about it in their secret blogs and hellish conference coffee hours. The efficacy of the Word is proven by the many ways in which Lutherans have tried to silence me. I have no power, no title, not authority over them. I cannot fire them or ban them, deprive them of income or girlfriends. If I were wrong, they could ignore me with ease. But I am not wrong - or to be more precise, the Confessions are not wrong. The Confessions show these leaders are wolves, lazy liars, clouds without rain, driven by the winds of false doctrine.

This lesson answers why believers are righteous. They are righteous, justified by faith, because they believe Jesus died for their sins and rose from the dead. The Word has planted faith in their hearts, sustained that faith, and declared to them their forgiveness. This work all belongs to God and glorifies Him. Theologians, who love to make up words, call this "monergism," meaning One Worker.

The Formula of Concord understood Luther well, because the authors were trained under him or his influence. If Luther and the Concordists taught UOJ, that should come through with clarity. We know UOJ is the constant refrain of WELS, Missouri, and the ELS. They are like the residents of locked wards who can only talk about one thing. In this case it is not having faith and all the people of the earth, even back to the Flood, having the status of guilt-free saints.
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The Righteousness of Faith, Formula of Concord, Article III.

9] Concerning the righteousness of faith before God we believe, teach, and confess unanimously, in accordance with the comprehensive summary of our faith and confession presented above, that poor sinful man is justified before God, that is, absolved and declared free and exempt from all his sins, and from the sentence of well-deserved condemnation, and adopted into sonship and heirship of eternal life, without any merit or worth of our own, also without any preceding, present, or any subsequent works, out of pure grace, because of the sole merit, complete obedience, bitter suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Christ alone, whose obedience is reckoned to us for righteousness.

10] These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves.

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

end of quotation

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How could this be any clearer? And yet, the UOJ Stormtroopers dare to quote this passage before they rip into justification by faith and supplant the true doctrine of the Bible with their patchwork quilt of Pietism, Calvinism, and Universalism:

6] This article concerning justification by faith (as the Apology says) is the chief article in the entire Christian doctrine, without which no poor conscience can have any firm consolation, or can truly know the riches of the grace of Christ, as Dr. Luther also has written: If this only article remains pure on the battlefield, the Christian Church also remains pure, and in goodly harmony and without any sects; but if it does not remain pure, it is not possible that any error or fanatical spirit can be resisted. (Tom. 5, Jena, p. 159.) 7] And concerning this article especially Paul says that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

That is like Marxists citing the Geneva Convention.

That also explains why Lutherans are now just a bad imitation of mediocre TV religion.


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