Sunday, November 8, 2009

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Justification by Faith, book cover art by Norma Boeckler. The book will be available in print version, either hardcover or paperback.

The Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn #536 Awake My Soul 3.28
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 1 Thess 4:13-18
The Gospel Matthew 24:15-28
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #36 Now Thank We 3.40

Justification in Romans 4-5

The Hymn #316 O Living Bread 3.45
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #354 In the Cross 3.84

Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we most heartily thank Thee that by Thy word Thou hast brought us out of the darkness of Papacy into the light of Thy grace: We beseech Thee, mercifully help us to walk in that light, guard us from all error and false doctrine, and grant that we may not, as the Jews, become ungrateful and despise and persecute Thy word, but receive it with all our heart, govern our lives according to it, and put all our trust in Thy grace through the merit of Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

KJV Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Justification in Romans 4-5

KJV Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

I. Romans 4-5
Paul wrote according to the conventions of his time, and we still follow the same rules. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul did not write chapter and verses (which were added much later) but thematic passages. People will end their discussions at the end of Romans 4, or start at Romans 5. It is better to see how the Apostle created a transition from his argument about Abraham being the Father of Faith to his passage on justification by faith.

When we speak about doctrinal categories (loci in Latin) we cannot start with the assumptions, claims, and rules of a given group of people. As Chemnitz wrote so eloquently, when the issues are muddied up, we have to go to the source, the Scriptures themselves, and leave Creeds and confessions behind.

Thus people are always going to be confused when they start with Walther or the Wauwatosa theories of a small Midwestern sect. If they use terms never before mentioned by Christians or Lutherans, they are setting up filters by which people view the clear, plain meaning of God’s Word.

The issue in Romans 4 is how the righteousness of God came to Abraham, by the Law or by faith. The KJV word is “imputed” or “reckoned.” The Greek word could be translated as “counted”. In financial transactions it would be translated as “credited,” so the meaning is quite clear and strongly supported by many NT references.

KJV Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth [credited] righteousness without works,

The verb is also used in the sense of “to think” or “to conclude.”

KJV Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

II. The Issue in Romans 4-5

The issue in Romans 4-5 concerns righteousness through the Law or through faith.

Not to be forgotten is the earlier argument about moral law, which was addressed to non-Jews who knew this concept as residents of the Roman Empire. The legacy of Roman law is still with us and affects divorce law and other legal matters in America and Europe. (For instance, Scotland is based on Roman law while England is based on Common Law. This variation also occurs state by state in America.)

We know Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles, but he was also active among Jews, responsible for many conversions.

So the argument about Abraham would be especially significant to Jewish Christians. Abraham was the precedent, the first of the Patriarchs.

KJV Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Paul was citing the well known passage from Genesis. The Torah (Five Books of Moses) were especially important for worship and teaching, then as now.

KJV Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

This—by itself—is the ultimate argument against Universal Objective Justification, but first of all it is proof against righteousness from the Law. Starting with Moses and the Law was useful for those Jews who resisted the Christian faith and for those Judaizers (like those visiting Galatia) who wanted to add Jewish ritual law to the Gospel.

Arguing from antiquity is a popular fallacy.
“The Christian Church has always taught the Immaculate Conception of Mary.”
“The Lutheran Church has always taught UOJ.”
One exception will demolish such claims.

If righteousness comes from the Law, then how could Abraham be counted righteous before the Law was given? Even more important, if righteousness is counted as obedience to the Law, then why is Abraham counted righteous for believing in God?

III. Twisting the Meaning of Faith
The Word of God was revealed to us to create faith in our hearts.

The manufacturers of straw men (setting up a false argument, a straw man, and demolishing it) like to say things like “faith is not a virtue” and “faith is not a work” and “faith is not magic that…”

The Bible consistently teaches faith in God as good and essential. This makes sense to most people. We want others to trust us. God says, “This is My Word, the truth for all ages.” God wants us to trust Him because His Word, His will, is gracious.

KJV Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word.

So many things have been said about UOJ to disparage faith. One minister even signed his post on UOJ – “an unbeliever.” Perhaps he thought it was a token of his great orthodoxy, but it was proof of his obstinate rejection of the plain meaning of the Word.

Faith is good. Salvation comes to believers, who receive what Christ has accomplished. The Word of God creates that faith.

KJV John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

KJV Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

IV. Forensic Justification
The term forensic justification comes from legal terminology. I recall a license plate in St. Louis: - 4N6. I figured it was a lawyer or perhaps someone involved in the court system.

Melanchthon’s contribution to the Reformation was his early defense of justification by faith. Man is guilty of sin through the perspective of the Law, but God judges or counts us righteous for trusting in the righteousness of Christ.
The UOJ fanatics like to use the term “verdict” but they are always misplacing the verdict, trying to make the entire world absolved because Walther’s Pietism—and study of the Halle Pietist Knapp—moved him to echo a very popular doctrinal book. (Can anyone imagine people going along with global warming and evolution today? Look at all the books on those topics.)

The question not whether Christ has earned salvation for the entire world. The Atonement is universal and objective.

The question is how one receives the benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ.

Paul consistently teaches that faith in the Gospel justifies the sinner. God knows we are sinners but credits us with the righteousness of Christ through our faith in His Son.

KJV Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

The conclusion of Romans 4 is the opening of Romans 5:

5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The opening of Romans 5 also affirms that grace comes to us through faith, not through an imaginary absolution of the entire world, which is “forgiven but not really forgiven, until they individually realize or make a decision that the universal absolution is true.”

This double-justification scheme is clearly taught by the Halle Pietist Knapp, in a book with widespread and constant circulation in Europe and America, in its native German and in English. The double-justification wording, so loved by UOJ Enthusiasts (objective and subjective justification) was in print in America before CFW Walther landed in America. It was still being used in major Protestant seminaries at the end of the 19th century. However, its language did not become established in the Synodical Conference (LCMS, WELS, ELS) until Pieper published his Dogmatics in German.

The original doctrine of the Reformation is clear and compelling. The Gospel Promises create faith by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the Word, and nurture faith through the Word. God gives us the capacity to receive what Christ has earned for us, and He constantly strengthens that trust through His Means of Grace. We have peace with God, knowing we are forgiven, and we know how to renew and refresh that peace through the Word and Sacraments.

V. Objections from Romans 5

Strangest of all, UOJ Enthusiasts turn selectively to Romans 5 to make justification universal and divorced from faith.

Yet Paul used the term “some” rather than “all” in this chapter, just as Christ used the term “many” rather than “all.” (KJV Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.)

KJV Romans 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

The UOJ scheme seems to be true if only one verse is quoted, below, just like Romans 4:25 (“raised for our justification”)

KJV Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

The righteousness of Christ is preached to all men, but “many” are made righteous.

VI. Objections from Corinthians

The UOJ fanatics want everyone to think this chapter in 2 Corinthians supports their cause, but the last verse I am quoting takes away their thunder.

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

If everyone is already reconciled, then there is no reason for Paul to plead that the Corinthians be reconciled.

The Gospel Promises are the ministry of reconciliation, to show sinners that their trespasses were paid on the cross. The Gospel is the Word of Reconciliation, so that broken, contrite sinners realize that they have no works or virtue to contribute to forgiveness – Christ has accomplished that work Himself.

All the great Lutheran theologians missed the “absolution of the entire world” a gem not discovered until it was copied from the anti-Trinitarian Knapp (a Pietist, therefore influenced by unionistic doctrine from the Reformed) and Burk (another Pietist, son-in-law and publishing partner with Bengel). I believe Knapp was foremost in his influence, with Burk quoted by Hoenecke in support of the concept.


"It is legitimate for Christians to use civil ordinances just as it is legitimate for them to use the air, light, food, and drink. For as this universe and the fixed movements of the stars are truly ordinances of God and are preserved by God, so lawful governments are ordinances of God and are preserved and defended by God against the devil." Apology to the Augsburg Confession Daniel Preus, Affirm, June, 1991, p. 5-8. [Translation of Gottfried Fritschel article on Justification] ed., Thedore Tappert, Lutheran Confessional Theology in America, 1840-1880, New York: Oxford University Press, 1972,
"This faith, encouraging and consoling in these fears, receives remission of sins, justifies and quickens. For this consolation is a new and spiritual life [a new birth and a new life]. These things are plain and clear, and can be understood by the pious, and have testimonies of the Church [as is to be seen in the conversion of Paul and Augustine]. The adversaries nowhere can say how the Holy Ghost is given. They imagine that the Sacraments confer the Holy Ghost ex opere operato, without a good emotion in the recipient, as though, indeed, the gift of the Holy Ghost were an idle matter." Article IV., Justification, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 139.
"Truly, it is amazing that the adversaries are in no way moved by so many passages of Scripture, which clearly ascribe justification to faith, and, indeed, deny it to works. Do they think that the same is repeated so often for no purpose? Do they think that these words fell inconsiderately from the Holy Ghost? But they have also devised sophistry whereby they elude them." Article IV., Justification, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 153.
"But just as the dissimilar length of day and night does not injure the unity of the Church, so we believe that the true unity of the Church is not injured by dissimilar rites instituted by men; although it is pleasing to us that, for the sake of tranquility [unity and good order], universal rites be observed, just as also in the churches we willingly observe the order of the Mass, the Lord's Day, and other more eminent festival days. And with a very grateful mind we embrace the prfitable and ancient ordinances, especially since they contain a discipline by which is is profitable to educate and train the people and those who are ignorant [the young peopele]." Article VII & VIII, The Church, #33, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 239.
"If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments...Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God's command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ's sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Romans 10:17: 'Faith cometh by hearing.' But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same..." [Luther, Bab Captivity, 3 sacraments] Article XIII, Number/Use Sacraments, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 309.
"Although concerning the saints we concede that, just as, when alive, they pray for the Church universal in general, albeit no testimony concerning the praying of the dead is extant in the Scriptures, except the dream taken from the Second Book of Maccabees, 15:14." Article XXI, Invocation of Saints, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 345. 2 Maccabees 15:14.
"James, therefore, did not believe that by good works we merit the remission of sins and grace. For he speaks of the works of those who have been justified, who have already been reconciled and accepted, and have obtained remission of sins. Wherefore the adversaries err when they infer that James teaches that we merit remission of sins and grace by good works, and that by our works we have access to God, without Christ as Propitiator." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 189. James 2:24.
"And just as the Word has been given in order to excite this faith, so the Sacrament has been instituted in order that the outward appearance meeting the eyes might move the heart to believe [and strengthen faith]. For through these, namely, through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Ghost works." Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV (XII), #70, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 409.
"Also they teach that since the fall of Adam, all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eteranl death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost. They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason." Augsburg Confession, Article II: Of Original Sin Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 43f.
"Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for 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. This faith God imputes for righteousness is His sight. Romans 3 and 4." Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45. Romans 3 and 4.
"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, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith, where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 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. They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparation and works." Augsburg Confession, Article V, The Office of the Ministry, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45.
"Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God's will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: 'When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants.' Luke 17:10." Augsburg Confession, Article VI, The New Obedience, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 47. Luke 17:10.
"Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry a wife, to be given in marriage." Augsburg Confesion, Article XVI, Of Civil Affairs, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 51.
"Also, we reject and condemn the error of the Enthusiasts, who imagine that God without means, without the hearing of God's Word, also without the use of the holy Sacraments, draws men to Himself, and enlightens, justifies, and saves them." Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article II, Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 789.
"On the other hand, the enthusiasts should be rebuked with great earnestness and zeal, and should in no way be tolerated in the Church of God, who imagine [dream] that God, without any means, without the hearing of the divine Word, and without the use of the holy Sacraments, draws men to Himself, and enlightens, justifies, and saves them." Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article II, Free Will, 80, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 911.
" has been unanimously taught by the other teachers of the Augsburg Confession that Christ is our righteousness not according to His divine nature alone, nor according to His human nature alone, but according to both natures; for He has redeemed, justified, and saved us from our sins as God and man, through His complete obedience; that therefore the righteousness of faith is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and our adoption as God's children only on account of the obedience of Christ, which through faith alone, out of pure grace, is imputed for righteousness to all true believers, and on account of it they are absolved from all their unrighteousness." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. 4 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 917.

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