You can just tell..that’s all.

“We walk by faith and not by sight.”

“Judge not, lest you be judged.”

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is NOT OF YOUR OWN DOING , IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD – NOT BECAUSE OF WORKS, LEST ANYONE SHOULD BOAST.”    Ephesians 2:8,9

HELLO!  Could you all hear that ok?

“Well yes we heard it just fine… BUT I have my own verse from the Book of James that says…yada yada yada, and oh yes…yada”

Do you want to kill that wonderous feeling of joy that comes from the forgiveness of sins and frees the sinner from his chains of ‘performance’?  Then just drag out James anytime someone starts to become elated at not having to get right with God on his own accord! You will kill the party and put the shackles back on everyone in the room. “Handcuffs all around…on the house!!!! ”

“Lord, we fed poor kids, we worked at rummage sales for the church, we went to the County jail and visited the scumbags, we gave regularly, and we prayed great prayers…all in YOUR NAME, LORD!!”

And the Lord said, “Who are you?  Get out of my sight.”

“But Bobby and Suzy were such faithful Christians…how could the Lord do that to them?” The Lord didn’t do anything to them, they did it to themselves by thinking that their actions were actually meriting themselves something.  They were ‘DOING’ all the right things.  But their hearts were so far from God that they wouldn’t know the gospel if it hit them in the face. They didn’t have an ounce of grace and mercy in themselves to give…only their performance of works.

And then, to the ‘scumbags’ at the County jail and some of their ilk, Jesus says “blessed are you, when I was hungry you fed me…”, etc etc.

They said, “when did we do that?”  THEY DIDN”T EVEN KNOW THEY WERE DOING ANYTHING SPECIAL!   ‘They did not have works on the brain, because of some ignorant preacher giving them biblical principles to live by…which is just the law packaged in another way.

This ought to send shivers down the spines of the ‘little bit of God and a little bit of me’ crowd.

But it probably won’t. Because the world never looked so undeserving, and myself so deserving, as from the point right where I am standing. It is so easy to say, “he’s not doing enough.”

And…the chorus of  “yeah buts” resounds!

Am I off base…or what?

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28 Responses

  1. where did you get that picture! It is awesome. “Real Christians don’t sin.” I love it. No they don’t sin, they just accidentally lust after the girl wearing the shirt that says real Christians don’t sin, wondering how much of a challenge it might be, and how fun it could be to prove to her she isn’t a real Christian. I mean wearing a shirt like that is like throwing down the gauntlet! I like to one up braggarts.

  2. Bror,

    I believe she got the shirt at the local, ‘climb the ladder, get better every day, ascend, holiness, non-denominational, WWJD, becoming more Christlike each moment, work on your spirituality ‘ gift shop.

    They are two for a dollar.

    Leave it to you, to think of proving her wrong in an intimate fashion.

    I gotta go. Late for work. Some of us have to work for a living, you know!

  3. I got the photo from ‘Flickr’.

  4. The old theology of glory won’t work. That’s what Jesus said.

  5. Yeah, I almost feel bad about that one. Of course I wouldn’t do it. But things like that just get me going. And the fact is all too often that is just the kind of thing that happens in that situation. Which is one reason I don’t like all that malarky. When will we learn the law incites sin!
    ” I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.” Romans 7:9 (ESV)
    Telling me I am not a true Christian because I sin, does not make me want to quit sinning. Rather it has the opposite effect. It makes me want to sin more. And quite frankly it is taxing to fight that impulse. True Christians live in forgiveness.

  6. i think we can encourage growth without hammering people with the law. its really about how we identify ourselves. when i find my identity in chirst doing good things is a natural by-product. when i look for my identity elsewhere is when things get screwy.

  7. I think I dated her in the 70’s, but there is a lot of blur,,I was the guy Bror E. , that would see that as a challenge. Now i wonder if she is on her meds. The law died on the Cross. “when i find my identity in chirst doing good things is a natural by-product. ”
    graceshaker just summed up a whole lot of scripture. Wow. preach it brother!

  8. Excellent Steve!

    If we’d just understand that actual growth or sanctification itself is “getting use to your justification” and not some movement from less righteous to more righteous with a preciptous inverse relational drop from being more sinful (negative sins) to less sinful. In fact justification attacks and kills that VERY thing most evangelicals call “sanctification”.

    The point cannot be lost and is alien earth shattering, an outerworld message breaking in on a fallen world: Sanctification, Forde says, is not the GOAL of good works (the motion from X to Z) that ultimately negates justification. That is how the two are actually confused. Rather Sanctification (i.e. getting use to your justification) is the SOURCE of good works. Forde continues by saying that THAT is afterall what it means that good works do not make a good person (thinking in the like Aristotle) but that good works come from the good person (the imputed justified). Or as Christ spoke GOOD fruit comes from a good tree, not a bad one (the one trying to be a good one).

    Thus, from the good person (the justified one by the unconditional declaration of God who is being sanctified by getting use to his/her justification – that very unconditional proclamation of God) ALL THAT HE DOES ARE GOOD WORKS.

    Now you know why Luther can hardly contain himself in some of his statements. His joy literally BOUNDS from the page as he says, “Even the milk maid milking the cow, picking up a straw, eating, sleeping, breathing air (mine), etc…” All he does is a good work for it comes from a good person made so by the declared Word of utter unconditional grace and the sanctification that is that which is getting use to that FACT and REALITY. The kingdom comes upon us we do not go to it! That’s why the true faith NEVER enumerates, lists, measures, and so forth good works into this box over here as opposed to evil works over there. AND when he does evil it is forgiven. This is EXACTLY what Luther means when he says and he practically sings like the swan he was that beautiful Christocentric Word that faith is ALWAYS producing good works, for it cannot help but to be spilling over continuously so busy is this passive nude inactive faith. The paradox is overwhelming and the ToG, the old Adam, cannot see it because he’s dead. Real faith is brimming with good works over spilling like an eternal fountain because ALL that real faith DOES is now good works, good works come from the good tree – AGAIN THAT is afterall what it means that good works do not make a good person (thinking in the like Aristotle) but that good works come from the good person (the imputed justified) – i.e that true sanctification which is getting use to your justification and is the SOURCE of good works!

    NO WONDER LUTHER BEAMED WITH OVERWHELMING JOY and hardly could contain himself often. Like Paul he clearly saw it and it was his sheer RAPTURE, ECSTASY and ELATION to exclaim it and proclaim it! WHO can contain that!

    Blessings,

    Larry

  9. I relate it always to Christ all the time.

    Inside of Christ, in view of the Cross and His mercy do good things and we fail…. but we fail and pass with absolute assurance that I am justified on the cross and in Him.

    Outside of Christ their is no assurance. Good works.

    I had a Lutheran pastor that said once your saved by faith and not your works but faith is never alone. Not sure what people think about that here.

    Later,

  10. Jon,

    I think Larry (above) said pretty much what that Lutheran pastor was saying.

    The works will be there. Not to be measured or prescribed, but they will be there.

    Indeed, Christ is everything!

    Thanks Jon!

  11. “Even the milk maid milking the cow, picking up a straw, eating, sleeping, breathing air (mine), etc…” All he does is a good work for it comes from a good person made so by the declared Word of utter unconditional grace and the sanctification that is that which is getting use to that FACT and REALITY. The kingdom comes upon us we do not go to it! That’s why the true faith NEVER enumerates, lists, measures, and so forth good works into this box over here as opposed to evil works over there.”

    Right on, Larry!!

  12. “when i find my identity in chirst doing good things is a natural by-product. when i look for my identity elsewhere is when things get screwy.”

    Graceshaker , that hits it on the head!

    Thanks!!

  13. Willohroots,

    You and Bror (and me) probab;y would have made quite a wrecking crew in the seventies,

    Thanks be to God that He forgives all of that!

    Thanks, Willohroots!

    – steve

  14. Jim Robertson,

    It won’t work (T of glory), will it! And Jesus did say that.

    But the old Adam in us just refuses to let go.

    So we need to constantly beat back that jerk and hear the promises and receive His body and blood, again, and again, and again.

    Thanks very much, Jim!

  15. I would ask her if she is a “real Christian” with follow up questions about lying and if she ever read the Bible.

  16. Craig,

    I love to hear her answers to those questions.

    I ‘d also love to hear the answers from all those that think they can point out the “fake Christians” and definitely identify the “real Christians”.

    And then justify why they shouldn’t be in the latter category.

    Thanks Craig!

  17. Forde quotes Luther on the right way of good works and the false way. What Luther saw was unbelievable (to the old Adam). Luther said, “He who pursues holiness does not like God’s commandments”. It goes all the way back to what is sanctification and what it is not. It is not the motion or movement, pre or post conversion of “getting better” or the pursuit of “holiness”, “virtue”, “piety”. In fact the unconditional declaration of the justifying Word explicitly KILLS that, even ABOVE the open immoral sins. Sanctification, true sanctification is, “GETTING USE TO THAT”. As James points out most excellently, returning to baptism and the sacraments and the absolution – “to beat that point into our hard heads and hard hearts”.

    Forde goes on to point out that the pursuit of holiness is exactly the opposite of true sanctification and is in fact false sanctification. What the unconditional proclaimed justifying Word does is opens up the TRUTH of God’s commandments to us. “Thou shalt love…” becomes a promise “You shall/will love…” via the justifying Word, “You are forgiven and all righteousness is done for you by Christ…it is finished…nothing left TO DO”. What the Law pointed to and condemned in the demand before hand becomes a promise “you will love”. The justifying Word CREATES. NOW, the justified believer sees for the first time: sanctification that is the pursuit of holiness or piety or virtue is the EXACT opposite of the Law, these really HATE God’s Law but profess to love it and pursue it. For all such pursuits are self appointed. Via the Gospel, however, it causes the actually doing of the commands. It leads to the very earthy life loving the creation and not these enthused flights into glory. It leads to changing the babies diaper. In short the pursuit of holiness (false sanctification) is to really hate the Law and seek self appointed things unto holiness, piety, and virtue. Via the Gospel one is led back to actually begin, however poorly, serve the neighbor. The Gospel leads us out of ourselves and to be human again and not “as gods”. It literally opens up a whole new world to us. BUT IT MUST come continually via the justifying Word (as James has pointed out, continually returning to the sacraments, forgiveness, and Gospel).

    To put Luther’s ToC on this a theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. Thus a ToG calls the pursuit and sanctification of holiness, virtue and piety “good” but it is really EVIL, and it simultaneously calls the sanctification that is not progressing but getting use to its utterly free unconditional justification EVIL, but this is really truly GOOD. The theologian of the Cross says what a thing is, the former is true evil and the later is true good. People will spend all money, effort and life to buy and have the former, and the later which is free they will stick their noses up in the air at – yet it is the TREASURE of heaven.

    Blessings,

    Larry

  18. Larry,

    Right on…as usual!

    I am blessed to have a guy here that understands these guys (Luther, Forde, Paul) like you do.

    I often don’t have the time to do the reading (I ought make the time.., ok that’s a poor excuse), but I get the Reader’s Digest versions from you!

    Thanks for that, Larry!

    Very good stuff, indeed!

    – Steve

  19. Why have I never heard of Forde other than around here?

    What’s the book (s) one ought to have read?

  20. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is NOT OF YOUR OWN DOING , IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD – NOT BECAUSE OF WORKS, LEST ANYONE SHOULD BOAST.”

    Amen. We were dead. He quickened us.

    “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

    God’ receives ever ounce of glory for any ded of righteousness we do. We receive only credit for our bad deeds: pride, lust, and self-righteousness; and these are washed in the blood, and they were bore in the broken Body of our lord, Jesus Christ on Calvary.

    Thanks for stopping by, and for a nice post to comment upon.

    “Christians are not made righteous by doing righteous things, but being made righteous by faith in Christ, they do righteous things. ” -Luther

  21. Brigitte,

    Forde taught at Luther seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    My pastor was a student of his and speaks so highly of him. Dr. Forde was a real bulldog for the theology of the cross and Jesus Christ…alone.

    If you google Gerhard Forde you can find a list of his books.

    A couple to start with might be ‘Where God meets Man’ and ‘On Being a Theologian of the Cross.’

    It’s pretty radical stuff and he (Forde) has been a lightning rod for those that believe there is just a little bit left that we need to do.

    I’m going to re-post a short piece that he wrote on the theology of the cross and one on justification.

  22. Donsands,

    Right! Good quotes, Donsands.

    That He is in them is the only reason they are good.

    When we do them, “all of our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.”

    Thanks very much, Donsands!

    – Steve

  23. “Even the milk maid milking the cow, picking up a straw, eating, sleeping, breathing air (mine), etc…”

    If you ever get the chance, get hold of a copy of ‘Luther on the Christian Home’ by William Lazareth. It was published back in the 60’s, but is absolutely superb on Christian relations, marriage, and placing value in the everyday things which are part of God’s handiwork – truly enriching.

  24. Brigitte,
    You probably havn’t hear of Forde, as he was that rare breed, a confessional theologian who spent most of his career in the ELCA. I do believe though that he was part of Seminex (?). So he hasn’t always been at the forefront of the discussion in LCMS circles or the circles of her sister churches.
    However, “On being a Theologian of the Cross” is a must read.

  25. Bridgette,

    I didn’t start out “officially Lutheran” but really discovered LUther in my own trials and tribulations. Me personally I’m more Luther than Lutheran if you will. Forde is one of the FEW modern theologians, even in Lutheran circles (though not the only one) that actually “gets Luther” and subsequently the Scriptures.

    “On being a Theologian of the Cross” is a must read, I STILL mine that one. It’s a reoccurring read for me. AND his “Justification By Faith Alone” (same reoccurring reading).

    These two are EXPLOSIVE. If you think you know the Christian faith, read these, you WILL NOT be sorry.

    Oh, don’t sweat it if at first a number of things don’t sink in, that’s natural. We are SO naturally theologians of glory, under the spell of legal salvation and the conditional righteousness, much of it will seem confusing and absurd at first. But stick with it.

    YOurs,

    Larry

  26. I get a lot of Forde from my pastor ( a student of Forde’s).

    It’s extra good because being a product of the L.A. City Skool District…I aren’t a good reeder.

  27. Thanks for the info on Forde. I’ll try and get caught up.

    Maybe I’ll ask Prof. Nelson about him. They might have been colleagues, then.

  28. No, they could not have been colleagues. They got Phd’s from Harvard 20 years apart.

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