LAW, GOSPEL & THE MEANS OF GRACE
I. Thesis XVIII
In the fourteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the
of mankind is described in such a manner as to create the impression
that even true believers are still under the spell of ruling sins and are
A. Thesis confronting claims: (WPD 318)
1. Universal corruption embraces believers living in dominant and wilful sins.
2. Eg.: believer can be fornicator and adulterer.
3. Claim obviously untrue.
4. But, error easily made when trying to give drastic description of universal corruption.
5. Error made by "zealous ministers and also by theological students." (WPD 318)
6. Preacher must be careful when confronting Christian congregation as if all Christians are also living in shame and vice.
B. Mankind: divided into two classes.
1. Believers and unbelievers, or
2. Godly and ungodly, or
3. Regenerate and unregenerate
4. Mk 16:16.
5. Mt 9:13.
6. Mt 5:(44), 45
7. Mt 13:38.
8. Preacher must proclaim you are either
a. Spiritually dead, or
b. Spiritually alive.
9. Must teach but two goals in this life:
a. Heaven, or
10. Mt 7:13, 14.
11. Law produces "reprobate sinners".
12. Gospel produces "free and blessed men." (WPD 320)
C. Error easy when "one picture's 'what abominable sinners we are who need the Savior'" (WPD 320)
1. When refer to "abominable sinners", must not refer to Christians.
2. In Christians, we do find weaknesses covered with the righteousness of Christ.
3. And in Christians we do find good deeds, which God does through them and are pleasing to Him. (WPD 320)
4. Mt 3:17: Christians apply this to themselves.
5. Ro 6:14: Sin not able to dominate the Christian.
6. Impossible for believers to be "ruled by sin" (WPD 320)
7. Believer goes down before sin's assault because of his weakness, not because he meant to go down.
8. "If a person allows sin to rule him, this is a sure sign that he is not a Christian, but a hypocrite, no matter how pious he pretends to be." (WPD 320)
1. Ro. 6:14 (again).
2. 1Co. 6:7-11.
a. No one who so sins and fails to repent shall inherit Kingdom of God.
b. "whoever commits these sins intentionally has, by that token, a proof that he is not a Christian, but a reprobate, who is moved, not by the Spirit of God, but by the hellish spirit." (WPD 320)
3. 2Pe. 2:20-22
a. cf Calvinist's "once saved, always saved".
b. Remember Peter's and David's falls.
4. Ro 8: 13,14
a. "The apostle does not say: 'Never mind your sinning. God will keep you in His grace and bring you around again.'" (WPD 321)
b. "[H]e says: 'If you live after the flesh, you shall die....'" (WPD 321)
5. Gal. 5: 19-21.
6. Eph. 5: 5,6.
7. Walther notes these passages are in periscopes and should be text for sermons.
1. S.A. III, III, 42-45 (Walther cites as Part III, Art 4. §§ 42-45) (Tappert, p. 309f; Kolb and Wengert, p. 318f; Triglotta, p. 491)
2. cf Synod of Dort (aka Dordrecht; Synods met in 1574, 1578, and 1618- 1619: Reformed) "God is rich in mercy, according to His immutable purpose of election, does not wholly remove the Holy Spirit from His own even when they sin grievously, nor does He permit them to fall entirely out of the grace of adoption as children of God and out of the state of justification." (quoted with italics added, WPD 323)
3. Walther: "[W]e indeed assert that the elect cannot until their death remain in a reprobate state, otherwise they could not be elect." (WPD 323)
4. End of 30th Lecture.
F. Begins 31st Lecture (WPD 324)
1. Begins with discussion of how world has handled-
a. Questions of the fact that sin exists, and
b. Question of how sin originated.
2. Notes that philosophers failed to understand "the terrible abomination that sin is." (WPD 324)
3. Pity that also many within Christiandom do likewise.
4. "This blindness concerning sin is the chief cause of the almost universal rejection of the Gospel in our time. People who fail to recognize the horrible nature of sin will decline to accept the sacrificial death of the Son of God for the reconciliation and redemption of this world of sinners...." (WPD 324)
5. There can not be a right distinction between Law and Gospel "without a true and adequate knowledge of sin." (WPD 325)
II. Thesis XIX
In the fifteenth place, the Word
of God is not rightly divided when the preacher
speaks of certain sin as if they are not of a damnable, but of a venial
A. We have already seen:
1. Distinction must be made between mortal and venial sins.
2. Otherwise, not rightly dividing Law and Gospel.
3. But distinction requires great care.
4. Must clearly show that purpose of distinction is to prove certain sins expel Holy Spirit from the believer.
5. When Spirit expelled, faith too ejected.
6. Sins which expel Spirit called "mortal " sins.
B. One who had been a Christian:
1. Will readily perceive when Spirit has departed him.
2. Will know by inability to offer up childlike prayers to God.
3. And by inability to resist sin "stoutly and bravely as he used to do." (WPD 325)
4. Will "feel as if had become chained to sin, like a slave." (WPD 325)
5. This knowledge is good, "for thus he may be brought back to God." (WPD 325)
6. "But while this condition endures, he is not in communion with God." (WPD 325)
C. "Venial" sins
1. Such as a believer "commits without forfeiting the indwelling of the Holy Spirit." (WPD 325).
2. Sins of weakness or rashness.
3. Frequently "called the daily sins of Christians". (WPD 325)
4. But must not think that "a person need not be greatly concerned." (WPD 325)
5. Such a view makes person carnally secure, driving fear of God from them, to their perdition.
6. Law must be preached "it its sternness". (WPD 326)
7. Gospel: "in its sweetness". (WPD 326)
1. Mt. 5:18,19.
a. "called [not "be"] the least".
b. "'The least' means the most reprobate, or one whom God does not acknowledge as His own."
c. "That will be the sentence passed on him in the kingdom of God and Christ." (WPD 326)
d. All of Law is of great concern.
e. Even worse to teach others to perdition.
2. Mt 12:36.
a. God is Love.
b. He is also Holiness and Righteousness.
3. No sin venial in itself.
4. But there are sins "as will not hinder a person from still believing in Jesus Christ with all his heart." (WPD 326)
5. Jas. 2:10.
6. Gal. 3:10: "Sins are venial only for Christ's sake." (WPD 328)
7. 1Jn. 1:7
a. Sin is "rebellion against the holy, omnipotent God, our supreme, heavenly Lawgiver." (WPD 328)
b. Addition of wilfulness, "tears down the manifests which a king has posted in public and tramples upon it." (WPD 328)
c. We are to have heartfelt regret for our sins.
8. Mt. 5:21,22.
9. Ro. 8:1: "but a believer is the very person who regards sin as a very serious matter." (WPD 329)
E. Walther begins discussion
1. Roman teaching re: mortal and venial sins (no absolution required for venial sins).
2. Private writings of Luther.
3. "Evangelical preaching means that sin must be magnified." (WPD 331)
4. Ends 31st Lecture.
F. 32nd Lecture begins with discussion of Rationalism and other errors against Scriptures.