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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Resources for Studying Justification by Faith and Universal Objective Justification


"The Holy Spirit teaches man better than all the books; He teaches him to understand the Scriptures better than he can understand them from the teaching of any other; and of his own accord he does everything God wills he should, so the Law dare make no demands upon him."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 280. Pentecost Sunday John 14:23-31.
Luther’s statement about the Holy Spirit is the most read on the Ichabod blog, with more than 100,000 views. The post contains the graphic, the quotation in the text, and some Biblical passages on the efficacy of the Word.


To Study Justification by Faith in the Bible

Isaiah 55, Mark 4, and Hebrews 4 – the efficacy of the Word.

Jesus teaches in John 16 that "not believing on Me" is the foundational sin.

Isaiah 55 and Romans 10 have been called the Means of Grace chapters of the Bible. 

Romans 10 could also be called a faith chapter, since Paul connects the preaching of the Word with the creation of faith.

Romans 3-5 – Justification by Faith is taught after all forms of justification by the Law or by works are dismissed as inadequate and misleading.

Two Ignored Justification by Faith Treasures – Melanchthon’s Apology of the Augsburg Confession and Luther’s Galatians Commentary

Both works are easily available on the Net, and both find a place in the Book of Concord. Although Melanchthon wrote the Apology or Defense of the Augsburg Confession, the princes and clergy made the document their confession as well. Luther considered himself a “theologian of the Augsburg Confession” and the Book of Concord editors did as well. The editors of the Formula of Concord commended Luther’s Galatians Commentary for additional study of justification. The entire book cannot be included in a concise confession, but this recommendation is the highest possible praise for Galatians, the best work on justification by the greatest theologian and Biblical scholar of the Christian Church. Therefore, one cannot dispute the justification by faith or invent new twists—like universal justification and double justification—and claim to be an orthodox or Confessional Lutheran.
Lutherans seldom concede that all their denominations were conceived in an era of Pietism, when Spener and his cohorts had a very special place in the hearts of the founders. They were escaping the secularism of the state church in Scandinavia, and avoiding the law in Germany. The Stephanite exodus was deliberately Pietistic, and the Walther circle followed Pietistic leaders (Kuehn and Stephan) and studied Pietistic authors – Rambach, Arndt, A. H. Franke, Spener, and Fresenius. Zion, p. 38.

All the groups were strangely alike in their unionism, combining Lutheran and Reformed communion (Wisconsin Synod and the General Synod), and indifferent to the Book of Concord at first. They looked to Halle University as the center of Pietism and engaged in conventicles or cell groups, which have been brought back in the name of Fuller Seminary’s Church Growth Movement. The founders of ELCA, like Missouri and WELS, struggled with Lutheran identity but went back to rationalistic Pietism of the past, including the universal justification of Halle University, Rambach, and Knapp. The history is sad and the details endless. Now all the Lutheran leaders agree on the whole world forgiven—without the Word or faith or the Means of Grace—and work together through Thrivent Insurance.
The Apology of the Augsburg Confession is a great but overlooked treasure. The essay on justification by faith illustrates why Luther held his colleague in such high esteem.
Faith is that my whole heart takes to itself this treasure. It is not my doing, not my presenting or giving, not my work or preparation, but that a heart comforts itself, and is perfectly confident with respect to this, namely, that God makes a present and gift to us, and not we to Him, that He sheds upon us every treasure of grace in Christ. Apology IV, 48.

Melanchthon did not omit repentance, as the opponents of justification by faith do. They offer cheap grace that promises people being born forgiven and even being guilt-free saints in Hell, a potent sign of theological illiteracy.

For the Gospel convicts all men that they are under sin, that they all are subject to eternal wrath and death, and offers, for Christ's sake, remission of sin and justification, which is received by faith. The preaching of repentance, which accuses us, terrifies consciences with true and grave terrors. For the preaching of repentance, or this declaration of the Gospel: Amend your lives! Repent! when it truly penetrates the heart, terrifies the conscience, and is no jest, but a great terror, in which the conscience feels its misery and sin, and the wrath of God. That Faith in Christ Justifies, Apology, IV, 61
Few can write as clearly and concisely as Melanchthon, so it is no wonder that with all objections to UOJ answered in advance, none of these bravehearts want to quote him. The sub-headings in this section are worth noting. By themselves they create a framework that does not allow for universal justification without faith.
76 To attain the remission of sins is to be justified, according to Ps. 32:1: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. By faith alone in Christ, not through love, not because of love or works, do we acquire the remission of sins, although love follows faith. 78 Therefore by faith alone we are justified, understanding justification as the making of a righteous man out of an unrighteous, or that he be regenerated. That We Obtain Remission of Sins by Faith Alone in Christ. Apology IV, 76f.

Luther’s Galatians Commentary in the Formula of Concord
At the end of the section on The Righteousness of Faith (nota bene), Solid Declaration, the Concordists write:
Concerning what is needful furthermore for the proper explanation of this profound and chief article of justification before God, upon which depends the salvation of our souls, we direct, and for the sake of brevity herewith refer, every one to Dr. Luther's beautiful and glorious exposition of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, The Righteousness of Faith, III, 67.
Luther wrote his final version of his Galatians Commentary so there would be no doubts about the apostle’s inspired teaching. This commentary is easily obtained in many version, in older English, in the American Edition of Luther, and so forth. One only needs to Google the name of the book to find a variety of editions, from print editions to free ones on the Net. But Fallowes’ statement in the graphic is still true today – the commentary is almost extinct and forgotten, with Stephan, Walther, and Barth exalted as the true prophets who will explain universal justification.
Melanchthon and Luther worked closely together, and Melanchthon’s work at Augsburg in 1530 became the confession of Luther, the theologians, and the Protestant princes. These two articles teach the efficacy of the Gospel Word, the exclusive work of the Holy Spirit through the Invisible Word of teaching and preaching, and through the Visible Word of the Sacraments. These are called for the sake of brevity, the Means of Grace.


Article IV: Of Justification. Augsburg Confession
1 Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for 2 Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. 3 This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.
Article V: Of the Ministry. Augsburg Confession
1 That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, 2 the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 3 the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake.
4 They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works.

The transition from the New Testament to the Augsburg Confession is easy, since the Reformers thought of their work as explaining the text of the Bible, not defending the doctrine of their professors and relatives. For that reason, universal justification is found nowhere in Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, the Book of Concord, or Gerhard. Other theologians of the Reformation and Concord era, such as Chytraeus, Hunnius, and P. Leyser, are just as clear about justification by faith alone.
Luther understood well the persecution of the Word by Satan, in both ways – the outward persecution by exile, murder, imprisonment, and destruction – but also the subtle and more effective approach of steady correction and improvement.
No one says, “I am against Luther and the Book of Concord. Even those who know nothing of the Confessions will say, “I am Confessional Lutheran, orthodox, and I hold a quia subscription to the Book of Concord.” But most Lutheran leaders immediately begin to improve on Jesus, the Apostles, Luther, and Melanchthon by redefining justification as universal forgiveness and condemning the Spirit’s creation of faith as a work of man. Luther saw this long ago –


After this manner doeth the devil hinder the course of the Gospel, both on the right hand and the left, but more on the right hand, by building and correcting, than on the left by persecuting and destroying. Kregel edition, p. 22.
The building and correcting have accumulated enough to occupy an entire landmass, as Douglas Adams might say. All of Walther’s works were based on UOJ. His disciple Francis Pieper wrote his own Dogmatics focusing on UOJ, using the double justification language of the Calvinist Leonard Woods Jr. The followers of Walther and Pieper formed the faculty of the Wauwatosa Seminary, which was later located in Mequon, all extolling their eccentric mix of Pietism, rationalism, and scholasticism. The WELS essay files are packed with endless repetitions of UOJ, which is proclaimed as the Chief Article.

The words of Luther are used to overturn Luther’s doctrine – more importantly – the inspired and infallible revelation of the Bible. Forrest Bivens is one of many examples quoting Luther to overturn Luther, in 1996. Thus –

Forrest Bivens rejects the Chief Article,
by calling justification without faith the Master and Prince of all doctrines.

“The article of justification is the master and prince, the lord, the ruler, and the judge over all kinds of doctrines; it preserves and governs all church doctrine and raises up our consciences before God. Without this article the world is utter darkness and death.” (Martin Luther, What Luther Says, Vol. 2. p 703.)
After quoting Luther so effectively in the very first paragraph, Bivens corrected Paul, Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, and the rest thus –

What precisely is this “master and prince, lord, ruler and judge” over other doctrines? Justification is a declaratory act of God, in which he pronounces sinners righteous. As revealed in the Bible, this declaration of God is made totally by grace and on account of Jesus Christ and his substitutionary life and death on behalf of mankind. To phrase it somewhat differently, God has justified acquitted or declared righteous the whole world of sinners. He has forgiven them. They have been reconciled to God; their status in his eyes has been changed from that of sinner to forgiven sinner for the sake of Jesus Christ. Since all this applies to all people, the term universal or general justification is used. In our circles an alternate term, objective justification, is also used. If justification is universal, it must also be objective - sinners are forgiven whether they believe it or not. This is precisely what Scripture teaches in Romans 3:23-24, when it says, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. “ All have sinned and all (sic) are justified freely by God’s grace. Ibid.

The second all In Romans 3 is inserted by the New NIV and Bivens, which is why the Mequon faculty has forced the New NIV on WELS. If someone reads this aloud, one finds the wording moving craftily into UOJ. Therefore, UOJ is the Chief Article without it, the world lies in utter darkness. Bivens made Universalism his creed and ELCA his ideal fellowship in this deceptive and manipulative statement. No one needs to wonder why a putative Lutheran seminary faculty demands a paraphrase that omits the Sacraments and desecrates justification by faith.
The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod may be more diversified but the official language remains UOJ. David Scaer has obnoxiously stated –
Claiming that God still counts sin against the world denies both the atonement and justification. By Christ's atonement all mankind appears to God as righteous...but subjective justification has no life of its own; it makes objective justification personal, which is only a facet of the universal atonement. The Third Use of the Law, 2005.
And…
Whoever denies objective justification reduces justification to the act of believing and does not believe in it at all. Logically, he denies the atonement and preaches that man is responsible for his sins. Ibid.
Although Scaer is famous for his bizarre declarations, this is really a classic imposition of guilt on anyone who dares to believe, teach, and confess justification by faith.