LESSON THIRTY 2010-2011

LAW, GOSPEL & THE MEANS OF GRACE
  1. "The Means of Grace and Prayer" (S. 179)
    1. In Christian Dogmatics (3:76-83, 215-19 per fn), F. Pieper:
      1. Discusses prayer in two places
        1. "The Christian Life and Prayer".
        2. "The Means of Grace and Prayer".
      2. First Section
        1. Is part of discussion on sanctification.
        2. Speaks of inseparable connection between prayer and Christian life.
      3. Second Section
        1. Places prayer under means of grace.
        2. But not putting it on same level as Word and sacraments.
        3. Some Reformed and Methodists do.
        4. e.g. "prayer" as the place where communion takes place between God and believer "who is assured that God has answered his prayers". (id)
        5. May give good reasons to be hesitant of speaking of prayer as a means of grace.
        6. Reformed led to look within themselves for assurance.
      4. Lutherans
        1. Would have difficulty identifying most heartfelt feelings as a "genuine prayer" (id).
        2. All our prayers are defective due to sinful nature.
        3. Our weak prayers transformed by the Spirit who prays along with them to perfect them.
        4. Perhaps can speak of as "genuine" in that we in our weakness seek God and His strength, but not based on our wording or level of "faith commitment" (id)
      5. Heart of Pieper's argument
        1. Prayer is an expression of faith by which we come to God.
        2. Through prayer, approach the God who comes to us through Word and sacrament.
        3. Prayer in no way complements Christ's atonement or contributes to one's salvation" (id)
        4. But "it is a necessary expression of faith" (id)
      6. Question here is how prayer fits in discussion of means of grace.
    2. Ap XIII, 16 (Tappert, p. 213; Kolb & Wengert, p. 221)
      1. A rhetorical question.
      2. Suggests might be called a sacrament.
        1. God has commanded it.
        2. God has promised to hear it.
    3. Discussion of Prayer in today's culture.
      1. Broad use of term complicate things.
      2. Even non-Christians use term.
      3. Civic events, etc. use term.
      4. "One overarching definition for these unspecific prayers is that they are human desires that an outside force, presumably divine, would intervene in the ordinary affairs of life to accomplish a particular goal." (S. 180)
      5. Christian prayer is much more.
    4. Christian Prayer
      1. Even if "from the heart", must be offered in name of Jesus.
      2. If asking contrary to His will or against Commandments, not prayers.
      3. e.g. Mt. 20:21,22.
      4. e.g. Mt. 15:[21]-23.
      5. "Any prayer offered without faith falls under the same censure" (id)
      6. "Does God hear all prayers?"
        1. He does.
        2. But whether and how He responds is another matter.
        3. How He responds to non-Christians' desires belongs to His hidden will (id) [discuss: anything not out of faith offends Him]
      7. The question really is how He responds to those who accept Jesus' invitation to pray.
        1. He knows all.
        2. He knows the hearts of all people.
        3. He promises only to answer the petitions offered in faith in the name of Jesus.
          1. these are commanded by Jesus.
          2. they are formed by the Spirit in believers.
          3. through Him, are offered to God.
          4. Ro. 8:26,[27].
        4. Only these attributes qualify as "prayers" in the real sense.
        5. Jn. 16:23.
        6. "Pieper says, 'Prayer is the exercise of the faith of Christans'" (S. 181)
        7. "Prayer describes the lives of believers from the inception of faith to death." (id)
        8. Ro. 12:12.
        9. Believers always "face to face with God in prayers." (id)
        10. "Prayer is as necessary a response to faith as faith is a response to the means of grace." (id)
        11. "Where prayer is absent, the means of grace have not created faith and may even have been rejected." (id)
    5. Prayer
      1. Includes the formal church worship, i.e. the liturgy.
      2. In this context, place of prayer within means of grace evident.
      3. Worship - can be divided into:
        1. Proclamation, i.e.
          1. Word.
          2. Sacraments
        2. Prayer: "faith's response to that proclamation" (id)
      4. True and perfect prayer
        1. Responds to God with nothing He has not already proclaimed and given.
        2. e.g. Lord's Prayer as best example. (id)
        3. Our spontaneous "heart" prayers can be plagued by our sin.
        4. Prayer, like Lord's Prayer:
          1. Specifically commanded by God.
          2. Belongs to the means of grace.
          3. Composed by Jesus.
          4. Deserves recognition as purest form of the Gospel. (id)
          5. First three petitions fulfilled in Jesus first.
          6. Then is us.
      5. Prayers accompany His coming to us in the means.
        1. So we ask Him to do what He has promised.
        2. Which He is in fact doing as we pray.
        3. We pray that faith be engendered or confirmed.
        4. That we receive with sincere faith.
        5. That faith may bring forth the first of good works.
        6. Prayers precede and follow administration of sacraments.
        7. But, in God's eyes, are "coterminus with the preaching and consecration of the elements and their distribution." (id)
        8. [God's vision and nature]
    6. Confession and absolution
      1. Rite of proclamation and petition/prayer.
      2. Luther:
        1. Saw as practice of baptism.
        2. And as preparation for the Supper.
      3. Melanchthon saw as a separate sacrament.
      4. For both is a rite in which prayer and gospel "form a perfect unity." (S. 182)
      5. Ministers invitation to confess and act of confessing made with prior assurance that:
        1. Penitent has been forgiven.
        2. And will be forgiven.
      6. Sins forgiven in absolution.
      7. But, by our confession, God already forgiving them.
      8. "indeed has forgiven them in Christ" (id)
        1. Objective justification.
        2. Is 65:24.
      9. Asking and being given (subjective justification)
      10. Derived from His command: Jn. 20:22,23.
      11. Substance of rite in Psalms, esp. penitential ones.
      12. Ps. 130:3,4.
    7. "Of course, it cannot be said that prayer in and of itself is a means of grace." (id)
      1. Contributes nothing to salvation.
      2. But is a necessary expression of faith.
      3. As expression of faith is not a means of grace.
      4. However, contains a declaration or proclamation of the Gospel.
      5. Insofar as that, it acts as a means of grace.
  2. Chapters in Book not being covered in course.
    1. "The Means of Grace and Non-Lutheran Churches" (S. 184).
    2. "The Holy Spirit, the Means of Grace, and Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements" (S. 199)
    3. "The Philosophical and Historical Roots of Reformed Thought" (S. 207)
    4. Worthy of Study.
    5. We discussed some of this information in prior courses.

END OF COURSE

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