LAW, GOSPEL & THE MEANS OF GRACE
I. Thesis IX
“In the fifth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when sinners who have been struck down and terrified by the Law are directed, not TO the Word and the Sacraments, but to their own prayers and wrestlings with God in order that they may win their way into a state of grace; in other words, when they are told to keep on praying and struggling until they feel that God has received them into grace.” (WPD 127) [Thesis disc. thru pg. 210; into 20th lecture.]
A. Doctrine denounced common to all the Reformed.
1. Ac 2
a. “a terrible Law sermon” (WPD 128)
b. 2:37: effect of the Law.
c. 2:38: “Repent” i.e. “faith”.
(1) Law had done its work.
(2) Term used here in figure of synecdote.
(3) Peter does not command some “personal effort to amend” their way of life/conduct.
(4) 2:42: not some passing faith (cf “revivals”)
2. Ac 16
a. 16:16,19-24: inhuman bigots.
d. 16:31-33; no required extensive course of instruction before Baptism here.
3. Ac 22
a. Ac 21:40-22:5
C. The method of the “sects” (Reformed) (WPD 134)
1. They preached Law first with great sternness.
a. As Lutherans do.
b. But their depiction of infernal torments.
(1) So drastic as to engage imagination rather than let them sink into heart.
(2) They do not bring out its spiritual meaning.
(3) Instead of leading to recognition of being sinner deserving wrath.
(4) They put in state of mind that laments how terrible it is to hear God utter such threatenings.
c. Preacher of Law must make person distrust himself in even the least matter.
2. They do not preach Gospel to such as are alarmed and in anguish.
a. Instead give list of efforts required to be received into grace.
b. e.g. – kneel with the brothers and sisters and cry for forgiveness – sometimes futilely.
c. When finally “experiences feeling of divine grace”, told to praise God because he is now “rid of sin.”
3. This is all based on 3 “awful errors”. (WPD 135)
a. They never teach a real, complete reconciliation with God.
(1) They regard God as being “very hard to deal with” (WPD 135)
(2) Is a denial of Christ.
(3) They imagine that after Christ does His share, man must still do his.
b. They teach false doctrine re: Gospel.
(1) They regard it as only instruction for man of what man must do to secure God’s grace.
(2) Gospel really is proclamation that we are reconciled for His sake.
c. They teach false doctrine re: faith.
(1) They regard it as a quality of man by which he is improved.
(2) For that reason, they consider it an extraordinarily important matter.
(3) Faith does truly change a person completely, bringing love into person’s heart.
D. True Gospel (WPD 137)
1. We know a gracious God.
2. His anger has been removed by our Savior.
3. Ends 14th Lecture.
II. 15th Lecture (p. 138)
A. Papists teach “purgatory”.
1. Purging by fire to reach full atonement.
2. Teach no assurance in this life that a man is in a state of grace.
3. The doctrine of Antichrist – absolutely no comfort.
1. Heb 11:1
2. Mt 11:28
3. Jn 4:(13),14
4. Jn 10:27,28
C. Doctrine of doubt is “the most horrible error into which a Christian can fall” (WPD 139)
1. Puts Christ, His redemption, and entire Gospel to shame.
2. Rooted in commingling of Law and Gospel.
Responded to a
2. But adopted Reformed method.
E. Walther gives extensive discussion re: Dr. John Philip Fresenius (1705-1761) (WPD 140)
1. Wrote Book on Confession and Communion (1745)
2. Meyer published new edition in 1845 with additional errors.
3. Walther “had some very sad personal experience with this book.” (WPD 141)
4. A pietist member of university group advised “You have not yet passed through any real penitential agony.” (WPD 142)
5. Walther read the book.
6. But another wrote letter of comfort.
7. Discussion of Fresenius’ teaching takes remainder of 15th Lecture.
III. 16th Lecture (WPD 151)
A. Lutheran doctrine that God’s grace obtained no other way that by putting confidence in the written Word, in Baptism, in Lord’s Supper, and in absolution.
1. Causes more offense than any other to Reformed.
2. Reformed consider it “too mechanical”. (WPD 151)
3. They consider it dead letter worship (citing 2Co 3:6)
4. See no profit in baptizing with water; advance Spirit baptism.
5. See no profit in eating and drinking the natural body and blood of Christ.
6. See no profit in a mortal man saying absolution.
1. 2 Co 3:6: “letter” means “Law”; “spirit” means “Gospel”.
2 Ac 22:16.
3. Jn 3:5: names water first.
4. Gal 3:27.
5. Tit 3:5-7.
6. Lord’s Supper: “for you”.
7. Absolution: Jn 20:21.
C. Reformeds’ problem is they do not know how a person comes into possession of God’s grace, forgiveness, righteousness before God, and salvation.
D. 9th Thesis: one of “most important in the entire series” (WPD 153)
1. Walther discusses history of Zwingli and Calvin, particularly Zwingli.
3. Ap IV, 67 (Tappert, p. 116; Kolb & Wengert, p. 131; Triglotta p. 139)
4. Ap XIII, 5 (Tappert, p. 212; Kolb & Wengert, p. 219; Triglotta p. 309)
5. Walther discusses some of Luther’s writings.
E. “For he alone is a Christian who believes that he is saved by grace.” (WPD 162)
F. “But must I not add something to make God’s work complete? No; you are to fall prostrate before God as a poor sinner, like the leper in the Gospel, and praise and magnify the abounding grace of God.” (WPD 163)
G. “The Spirit is not obtained except by simple trust in God’s Word.” (WPD 164)
H. End of 16th Lecture.
IV. 17th Lecture (WPD 165)
A. Begins lecture with discussion of Marburg Colloguy, 1529.
Called by Philip, Landgrave of
2. Between Luther, et al and Zwingli, et al.
3. Swiss made one concession after another.
4. Lord’s Supper halted discussion.
5. Swiss only allowed spiritual presence.
6. Six months later, Zwingli overthrew entire agreement.
7. M. Luther: “Yours is a different spirit from ours.” (WPD 165)
8. Accusation really is that Swiss not just merely caught in an error: Mt 18:3.
9. Swiss caught in rationalistic spirit.
1. Spirit of childlike simplicity, spirit of faith.
2. Submit to Word.
3. Spirit takes human reason captive.
C. “Protestant” churches:
1. Know nothing re: way to forgiveness through means of grace.
2. Evident from their rejection of absolution pronounced by minister from pulpit, or in general and private confession.
D. Doctrinal basis for Lutheran practice of absolution.
1. Christ took upon Himself imputation of all sins of every sinner: Jn 1:29.
2. By His life, suffering, crucifixion and death, He destroyed record of all sins and earned remission.
a. 2Co 5:21.
b. Is 53:5.
c. Ps 69:4
3. By raising Christ, Father confirmed and approved His work of reconciliation and redemption.
a. Jn 19:30
b. [Jn 20:17]
4. By His command to preach Gospel to all, He commanded to preach forgiveness to all.
5. Command not just to issue some general command, but to minister to each individual desiring His comfort.
6. Ministers have special commission to proclaim forgiveness, but every Christian is commissioned to do this as well.
E. Papists teach requisites of absolution: (WPD 171)
1. Oral confession: full required.
2. Heart felt contrition: perfect required.
3. “Satisfacto operis”: compensation by performing some good work.
F. Lutheran testimonies.
1. AC XXV, 2-6 (Tappert, pp. 61, 62; Kolb & Wengert, pp. 72, 73; Triglotta, p. 69)
2. Absolution: we say nothing but what happened.
3. Ap XII, 39 (Tappert, p. 187; Kolb & Wengert p. 193, Triglotta, p. 261)
4. LC, Lord’s Prayer, 88 (Tappert, p. 432; Kolb & Wengert, p. 452; Triglotta p. 723)
G. Ends 17th Lecture
V. 18th Lecture (WPD 178)
A. Since fall:
1. Every person is by nature under divine sentence of temporal and eternal death.
2. Living in vague awareness of rumor of a pardon (comment: at the best).
3. Has no certainty of pardon.
B. God does not leave us in “dreadful state of ignorance” (WPD 179)
1. Lk 2:10,11.
2. Mk 16:15.
3. Mt 28:20
4. Are we not truly blessed?!
C. False doctrine vitiates such “unspeakable joy” (WPD 180)
D. 9th Thesis “is really the central thesis in this entire series” (WPD 180)
E. Mt 9:1-7
1. vv 2,3: accused of blasphemy.
2. v 6: “the Son of Man has authority”.
3. v 8: “such authority to men”.
4. Holy Spirit does not correct them.
F. We must:
1. Proclaim the truth.
2. Speak a language “so simple that a peasant listening outside of the sanctuary can understand it and feel himself drawn into the church.” (WPD 181)
G. Begins discussion re: Luther and baptism and absolution and Lord’s Supper (WPD 182)
1. “As soon as I stake my interests on my own contrition, I do not need Christ.” (WPD 190)
2. “Contrition is necessary, but not as a means for acquiring forgiveness of sins.” (WPD 190)
3. We are “not to inquire at all about the quality and sufficiency of their contrition.” (WPD 191)
a. Do not want to encourage them to build their hope on that.
b. Instead, they should praise God for the absolution they have received.
c. That “makes his contrition salutary” (WPD 191)
VI. 19th Lecture (WPD 193)
A. Conflict between Pietists and Orthodoxists
1. In first half of 1700’s.
2. Important conflict.
3. Pietists – followers, to some extent, of:
a. Spener [Philipp Jakob Spener].
b. August Herman Francke.
c. John Jacob Rambach.
4. Pietists: one unable to state exact day and hour when was converted and entered into grace was not a true Christian.
5. Orthodoxists denied this.
6. [Excellent discussion found in The Pieper Lectures, Vol. 3, “Pietism and Lutheranism” ©1999, Concordia Historical Institute and The Luther Academy].
B. It is true that conversion requires only a moment.
1. No intermediary way between:
a. Small way leading “upward”, and
b. Broad way leading “downward”.
2. Either converted or not.
3. Some in Scripture could name day and hour.
a. Adam and Eve
b. David, after confronted by Nathan.
c. Saul (Paul).
C. Pietists imagined a sudden experience of heavenly joy and hear an inner voice telling him that he is received into God’s grace.
D. Last part of Thesis IX: Word not rightly divided “when sinners who have been struck down and terrified by the Law are directed…to their own prayers and wrestlings with God in order that they may win their way into a state of grace; in other words, when they are told to keep on praying and struggling until they feel that God has received them into grace.” (WPD 195)
1. Doctrine abused by many
a. There are people who:
(1) regard themselves as good Christians.
(2) but are spiritually dead.
(3) have never felt a real anguish on account of their sins.
(4) have never been filled with terror on account of their sins.
(5) have never been appalled by the thought of the hell they deserve.
(6) have never been on their knees before God, bewailing their sinful conditions.
(7) nor have ever “wept sweet tears of joy and glorified God for His mercy.” (WPD 195)
(8) “read and hear the Word of God without being specially impressed by it.” (WPD 195)
(9) go to church; receive absolution, receive communion without feeling refreshed.
concerned about their indifference, seek to quiet their heart by considering
b. Deluding themselves; a dead faith.
2. Ro 8:16
a. Can Spirit bear witness without our feeling it?
b. Witness in court must speak loud enough for judge to hear.
c. If have never felt Spirit’s testimony, is spiritually dead.
3. Ro 5:1
a. “Objective peace, established through the shedding of Christ’s blood, exists prior to our justification.” (WPD 196)
b. “peace” spoken of is “sensed, felt, and experienced.” (WPD 196)
4. Ro 14:17
a. joy is “spiritual joy” (WPD 196)
b. if only tasted worldly or carnal joy, spiritually dead.
E. “Note, then, that our statement that no one must base his salvation and his state of grace of his feeling does not mean that he can be a good Christian without having experienced any feeling in regard to religious matters.” (WPD 196, 197)
1. “Melanchthon based his joy on feeling”
2. “but no matter what Luther’s feelings were, he clung to the Word.” (WPD 197)
3. But Luther uses language of feelings, e.g. “cheerful and assured heart and with all confidence” (WPD 197); “great joy and courage.” (WPD 198)
4. “The misery of our times is caused by the fact that the faith of which Luther speaks is rare. Either men are spiritually dead and therefore are unconcerned about their soul’s welfare, imagining that they will get to heaven anyway, or they are filled with anguish and uncertainty.” (WPD 199)
5. Walther discusses Roman church doctrine requiring doubt.
6. Truth is strange paradox in the heart of believer:
a. he fears and trembles – hearing Satan’s roaring.
b. and still is assured (WPD 200)
7. The “feeling” is the witness of the Holy Spirit.
1. Properly speaking, is “never in man’s heart” (WPD 201)
2. Is in God’s heart
3. First, person must believe
4. After that, he may feel
5. Feeling proceeds from faith; not vice versa
G. 1Jn 3:19,20.
1. Heart is a judge, but a subordinate one
2. Higher Judge, God, is above heart.
H. One “who desires to believe is already a believer” (WPD 202)
1. Jn 20:29: “seeing is practically nothing else than feeling” (WPD 202)
2. But must not desire first to feel and then believe.
3. Rather, believe then wait until He grants sweet feelings.
4. Heb 11:1.
a. Faith: without doubt.
b. Faith: not based on feeling.
5. Faith gives credence the moment the Word is spoken – has no other ground.
VII. 20th Lecture (WPD 207)
A. When candidate called:
1. “That place ought to be to him the dearest, most beautiful, and most precious spot on earth.” (WPD 207)
2. “should be unwilling to exchange it for a kingdom” (WPD 207)
3. should be joy matched with determination to save every soul entrusted to him.
4. may seem majority are unconverted.
5. should fill him with desire to “rouse them out of spiritual death” through means of grace. (WPD 208)
B. 1Co 9:22
1. Not only proclaim the truth.
2. But truth to meet their needs.
1. A “haven of rest and peace” (WPD 209)
2. A craft or trade.
D. 2Ti 2:15.