Luther on Psalm 51:4

Psalm 51:4  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

“Our whole nature is punishable by death and sin…  Thus the Word of God–that is, both the Law and the Gospel, or promise–proves with clear and certain arguments that we are sinners and are saved by grace alone.  If God promises life, it follows that we are under death.  If He promises forgiveness of sins, it follows that sins dominate and possess us…  Both the threats and the promises all show the same thing…

When sins are thus revealed by the Word, two different kinds of men manifest themselves.  One kin justifies God and by a humble confession agrees to His denunciation of sin; the other kind condemns God and call Him a liar when He denounces sin…

Believe that you are a sinner, whom God wants to have as His son if you confess that you are lost.

With this confession, by which you confound yourself and open your wounds to the physician, you glorify God and provoke Him to His truly divine work of healing your sick mind like a physician…

Whoever confesses this way that he has sinned against God alone, has a God who justifies.

LW Vol. 12 




John Dink, Cheap Law, and WWJD

“Cheap law weakens God’s demand for perfection, and in doing so, breathes life into… [our] quest for a righteousness of [our] own making…  It creates people of great zeal, but they lack knowledge concerning the question ‘What Would Jesus Do?’  Here is the costly answer: Jesus would do it all perfectly.  And that’s game over for you.  The Father is not grooming you to be a replacement for his beloved Son.  He is announcing that there is blessing for those who take shelter in his Beloved Son…  Therein lies the great heresy of cheap law: it is a false gospel.  It cheapens–no–it nullifies grace.”

John Dink’s post “Hallelujah, What a Savior” quoted in Tullian Tchividjian’s “One Way Love

Walther on the Distinction between Law and Gospel

“There are certain substances that are, by themselves, salutary; but when they are mixed they are turned into poison.  That is what happens when Law and Gospel are mingled…  there arises a third substance, when Law and Gospel are confounded in a sermon.  The new substance is entirely foreign to either original substance and causes both of them to lose their virtue…  It is therefore a matter of utmost necessity that these two kinds of God’s Word be well and properly distinguished.  Where this is not done, neither the Law nor the Gospel can be understood, and the consciences of men must perish with blindness and error.”

C.F.W. Walther “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel

PS: on a sidebar, Walther is obviously the best looking theologian in the history of Lutheranism…

More Zahl

Sorry I’ve been on a Zahl kick the past two posts.  I tend to gravitate towards his writings when I’m having a tough time and this week was one of those…

“Why do religious people have a hard time with grace?  People come to faith during times of great trouble.  Even if they grew up in church or had a religious experience as a teenager, they usually come to faith during a period of trouble.  A specific problem in life leads them to question or to look at God in a new way…  A time of trouble leads them toward the grace of God.  But right after they receive this grace they get punished with the law again.  The church punishes them with the law.  Here lies the problem an unburied one. Continue reading

Steven Paulson, Fanatics, “Law Creep,” & the Preacher’s Temptation

“Fanatics are convinced they have the power of the Holy Spirit, but in fact have only called themselves, and do not know the gospel…  The law always creeps in as the form of righteousness only to become the content of ‘new prophecy’ whose form is: do this and you will be the true church…  The temptation of a preacher is to be a spiritualist who receives new words from God not given in Scripture.  What does God call the preacher to do?  Preaching is God’s command, not the congregation’s own tradition.  The preacher’s call is not as Rabbi, Enthusiast, Spiritual Guide, Disciple, Prophet, or Community Organizer–What then is it?  The call is to preach law and gospel…  Fanaticism is overcome only in the proper preaching of law and gospel…”

Steven Paulson “Lutheran Theology

Paul Zahl on the Future of Evangelicalism

“I believe the answer to our (evangelicalism’s) problems is a return to the core of God’s grace, the ‘Old, Old Story of Jesus and His Love,” deepend by the Reformation insight of grace in relation to law…  We need people again who are allergic to law as the preached word and go, rather, to the enabling word of Christ’s grace, and not just to outsiders but especially to the law-burdened Christian communities that have failed to strengthen and sustain.  If I have a ‘recipe’ for these times, it is the gospel of Christ’s grace for Christians

The word “evangelical” is still a good one, if it means justification by grace through faith.  It is still a good word if by it is meant the love of God for sinners…  I still seek, still seek, to tell the Old, Old Story, which means in practice this: judgement kills, love makes alive.  I realize that such a formula is quite ‘reduced’ and could use a lot of enhancement; but we are going to have to begin again… by putting the core of Christ in simple, simple epigrams.  Let’s sponsor an evangelical Haiku contest!  The prize?: A complete set of the Weimar Edition of works of Luther”

Paul Zahl “The Future of Evangelicalism