No “real presence” means something else must be present…

                                                                                                     IMG_4372 by edirect3

…and that something else is your seriousness, your efforts, your decision, your good works, yada, yada, yada.

The Roman Church believes in the real presence but they are into the aforementioned pious activities, as well.

That’s their problem.

They believe in more than Christ alone, too.

So much of Christianity does. Lutheranism, the type that Luther espoused, rests in Christ and Him alone. This is radical. Even many Lutherans today do not accept it. There is often the call for a bit of the self in the equation. It might just be one little bit, but that is one little bit too much. You might as well tell Jesus to scoot over a smidgen and make some room on that cross for you.

What then do you end up with? ‘The God project’…that’s what.

You end up with people who look down their noses at real sinners. People who are just  a little better than everyone else. You end up with people in churches who walk alike, who talk alike, who carry similar looking bibles with similarly highlighted passages that place the onus back on the sinner. You get people who place the believer at the center and curve everything back in on him/her. You get people who are just playing a ‘religious game’. You get phonies.

You get Roman Catholicism dressed up in Baptist (non-demon) garb. The pure sweet gospel of the forgiveness of sins and the total justification and sanctification of the sinner for the sake of Jesus Christ,  just goes away. And now it all revolves around you. It’s sickening really. It’s a trick of the devil. It’s antithetic to everything the gospel is.

There’s no humility in that kind of a theology. There’s no ongoing repentance there.There’s no freedom there. There’s only the theology of glory. Becoming a better Christian becomes the goal. What does that mean?  It’s now all about YOU…that’s what that means. You know all the right Christian words, but in reality you have become a Jew. You are living under the law, not under grace.

One cannot become a better Christian than he/she is at the moment that they were baptized. (Baptized by God, by water and the Word) Please, save the baptism of the Spirit talk…that’s what water Baptism IS!!!

I know that talk like this drives many of you crazy. You hate it when people place everything upon the Lord. “We’ll, we just can’t live anyway we want!”  As if you don’t anyway. How often do you really break free from your comfort zone? How often do you really think of the neighbor, before yourself? If you’re anything at all like me, and I suspect that you are…the answer is ‘not too often’.

I would like some of you out there to put your emotions aside for a moment, and think about what I have said. Are you resting in Him? Or are you engaged in a bit of the God project yourself? I do (engage in it) from time to time when I’m at my worst. But I once again return to my Baptism, I receive Body and Blood of our Dear Lord, I hear the Word of the Law which puts an end to me, and I am once again led to repentance and new life in the hearing of His promises.

Am I better than you? Are Lutherans better than you?  Come on…you know me better than that. We aren’t better… but we know who and what we are. We know what our deeds, our seriousness, our decisions account for…not much… when it comes to the life of faith in our Dear Lord Jesus.

I hope you will take this as I intend it for you.

I intend it only as food for thought, that you might place the emphasis in your Christian life on the Lord and take the emphasis off of yourself, where it does not belong.

Then, in the freedom that flows from a greater trust in Christ Jesus, go and live in that freedom to the benefit of others and a more secure understanding of what it means to be one of His own, one of His adopted children, who do not need to perform at a certain level of faithfulness in order to remain in the family.



Please feel free to take issue with me.


95 Responses

  1. I think that non-Lutherans are better than Lutherans–they have to be.

    However, like others have said, I think most people really want to be Lutheran–but they just don’t know that yet.

    • Erich

      I was raised in a baptist church. They may appear better but it is all show. Same when I attended the reformed churches. They dont have the sacrament for they redefine the words. So they need the show to depend upon. What horrible fake comfort.

      The Lord does not seem to think too kindly on false piety by calling people who are close to him in words but whose heart is far from him. This was always terrifying to me and anyone else who is honest about what is going on in the heart.

      God’s peace. †

  2. Erich Heim,
    Expand on that. Do people really want to be Lutheran?

    • If you are searcing for 100% guaranteed righteousness, then I conclude that if the Gospel is really taking hold by the HS, you can’t help but be a Lutheran.

      Is that being prideful? Is that being judgmental about who has the Gospel? Probably is, but that’s the law (Old Adam) talking again, but that’s also Gospel-covered.

  3. I think it is much harder to be Lutheran.

    It’s tough to live by faith alone.

    Much easier to have a list to go by.

    • Living by faith ain’t easy, but thankfully we have a beneficent supplier of faith in the means of grace Word/Sacrament, because we can’t muster it up ourselves despite the lists.

      Those lists always seem to get longer, and more complicated. I’m terrible with instructions when it comes to DIY–I’m never sure I’ve got all the steps done right. So, when it comes to something as important as my eternal salvation, I’d just assume not have to tinker with it, and leave it all up to the Master Craftsman to get it right for me the first time.

      I don’t have list envy…is that something I need to worry about? (hehee.)

  4. I almost forgot about the Orthodox.

    They, too, believe in the real presence in the Sacraments.

    How do they manage to stay off the ladder of self- Christian progression?

    • Your question presumes that they do manage to stay off it. However, no one does, not even Lutherans. At least we are able to recognize our fault in that.

  5. The law works (at least for awhile).

    I think since ‘doing something’ is our default position, that most people are more comfortable with the list.

    Therefore, I believe that most people don’t want to be Lutheran.

    • I think the reason they say they don’t want to be is because they haven’t got the real gospel–they’ve been given the gospel-plus and been conditioned to believe that there is no such thing as a free lunch. However, asked what they really crave and if answered honestly, it would be pure gospel 100% assurance of righteousness totally and completely for the sake of Christ. When you get honest about that, the hunger for Christ and his gifts as assurance, you realize you might be a Lutheran. And that’s exactly why your witness here is so poignant; you are entertaining Lutherans unawares, to borrow a phrase from St. Paul.

  6. “Then, in the freedom that flows from a greater trust in Christ Jesus, go and live in that freedom to the benefit of others and a more secure understanding of what it means to be one of His own, one of His adopted children, who do not need to perform at a certain level of faithfulness in order to remain in the family.”

    Uhhh…If I just “trust in Christ Jesus” without the superlative additions…can I still stay in the family?…*; )

  7. Isn’t interesting that our propensity is so, so often for a ‘mess of pottage’ rather than our (redemptively provided) birth – right, to be sustained by Christ alone. Thankfully, God takes our old nature out of joint through His peniel for each of us (His saving work, as evidenced in baptism and the supper) and heals us in spite of ourselves, graciously allowing us once more (however many times it takes) to walk (limp) once again by faith and grace and not by sight.
    You’re right Steve, without Him. His provision, we are just dead weight, without anything to do or say that amounts to anything (no wonder Luther talked about the only thing we brought to the table was our sin and rebellion!). Thank God that all of what matters is truly outside of us, as so clearly seen on that hill 2000 years ago.

  8. Hm.

    Being Lutheran is not the equivalent of being born again. Even Luther appeared to believe in the church “invisible”.

    I’ve said before I’m not trying to cause trouble but this post looks suspiciously related to a certain ongoing discussion here.

    Steve, you say the word and I’ll go away permanently if there’s an issue with my non-Lutheranism and an underlying assumption that I think I’m superior or “works” oriented because I have declared myself to be “unaffiliated” with any particular denomination.

  9. Heather,

    I wish you would stick around awhile.

    Most of the posts on Christianity in this blog are pretty much related.

    Just go back and click on them going way back before you even knew this blog existed.

    We point out the basics of Christianity here. That it is all about Him and what He has done for us. And how that happens.

    I don’t care if somebody wans to be a Baptist, Lutheran, Non-Denom, Catholic, whatever. But I do want them to hear the truth at least once in their life, and that truth is that God hates our religious projects and is after faith and faith alone.

    If you are hearing something new, and it gets you thinking about a few things in another light, then that’s all I ask. I’ll not ask you to agree with those new things…just to hear them.

    Thanks, Heather.

    – Steve

  10. Okay.
    Actually, one reason I’ve been drawn to your site is that I can see you don’t desire to place a religious buffer between you and Christ. I totally agree that God hates religion. Yet for some reason, humanity is drawn to it like a moth to flame.

    Bror made a brilliant comment on the other thread when he pointed out that being non-denom doesn’t protect anyone from being indoctrinated with untruth (my paraphrase).

    We all need to remain on guard against the subtle deception that the devil uses to tempt us away from simple purity of devotion to Christ.

    I firmly believe we are saved by His grace alone, through faith that only He enables us to have. He starts the work–He finishes the work. Period.

    These things that you said are not new to me and the Lord has been mercifully faithful to show me these things in spite of all the garbage that is being taught these days.

    I’m a little gun-shy here because I know our understanding of the significance of the sacraments is different and I really, really don’t want anyone here to misunderstand my position to be one of works righteousness or that I discount these precious signs of our faith as being nothing more than empty ritual.

    One of the points of agreement between Bror and I is that you’re okay with my sharing what I believe and why. I gave my word that I’m in for the long haul as long as the conditions I set out are met. But, if our discussion is offensive to you, that is a violation of the first point and I need for you to tell me, because I don’t want to stir up others into assuming that I’m ignorantly spewing some alternative, demonically spawned “gospel” on your site.

    My purpose is not to barge in here and try to forcibly convert all of you to “my” way of thinking, but to offer insight concerning what I believe is a misunderstanding between “identity/memorial” believers and “real presence” believers.

    That’s all.

  11. OK Heather. Agreed. We’ll explain our positions as best we can and let the chips fall where they may.

    I’m the only Lutheran in my family(besides my wife), and I have lots of non-Lutheran friends. And I love them dearly.

    As far as doctrine goes, if you’ve heard of the stuff we talk about on this blog, in other places…that’s great. In my discussions with many folks in other denominations and non-denominations, I rarely find anyone who has heard these themes of Christian freedom and Christ centeredness, and who have had the Sacraments explained to them properly. I’ve said this before, also, even many Lutherans don’t understand Lutheranism.

    Anywho, I’m glad we understand each other a bit better.

    Thanks, my friend.

  12. Heather wrote : “My purpose is not to barge in here and try to forcibly convert all of you to “my” way of thinking, but to offer insight concerning what I believe”.

    And in so doing, we truly encourage one another to truly examine that faith which was ONCE delivered to the saints. I am by no means a ‘card-carrying’ Lutheran – I do not attend a Lutheran church – but I have, over many years, come to understand that Luther is right on many key issues not because it was ‘his teaching’, but because it (his writings) so often just pass along the Apostles doctrine, and that has to be good because it leads us to Christ alone, (hence my perpetual orbit around this blog!). The need is to lead people in that direction, constantly, so I want to thank everyone here who has this as a common goal, whatever their ‘stripe’ or background – Christ alone is the hope.

  13. I’m not Lutheran, for one thing, because of the communicatio idiomatum, and the ubiquitious presence of Christ’s life as a ‘container’ within the Lutheran view.

    Furthermore, I would question whether “Lutheranism” achieves the christocentrism that they say they do, at a methodological level. In other words, does the framing of your theological construct actually start with Christ? It doesn’t seem so to me. Do you have a view of the “mystical union” in your soteriology, wherein real union/ontological union is the basis of salvation? Do you ground salvation within the Trinitarian life of God? And how does that impinge upon how you frame relationship to God in Christ (is it immediate or mediate)? How about grace, do you see that personified in the person of Christ and the Holy Spirit? In fact this would be a key question, how do you define sin and grace — are they in relational terms or qualitative terms (so far, they way you guys have been talking its been the latter)?

    I think the goals here are laudable, but I also think, from what I’ve read, that many Lutherans here have overstated their “gospel purity.”

    • “I’m not Lutheran, for one thing, because of the communicatio idiomatum, and the ubiquitious presence of Christ’s life as a ‘container’ within the Lutheran view.”
      I would just like you to explain what you mean by all that, then what your problem with it is, and possibly what sources you are drawing from to come to these conclusions.

  14. Bobby Grow,

    I can only speak to the Lutheranism that I have been taught and that I see reflected in the Holy Scriptures.
    For us, there is nothing other than Christ and His work for us, and His announced forgiveness for us from that bloody cross. And the operative word is nothing. Christ…alone. NO add ons. Not a one.

    If that is not Christocentric than nothing is.

    No pope. No clergy ordained in historic succession. No decision. No experiences. No works. (not that some Lutherans don’t believe in some of these things – some Lutherans believe in the tooth fairy) No nothing other than the forgiveness of sins for Jesus sake.

    Where else is that found?

    (I pray that it would be found in a lot of churches…I just don’t see it)

    By the way, the gospel is pure. But it isn’t our gospel. It is His. It’s just our job to announce it and hand it over with NO strings attached.

    Thanks, Bobby.

  15. Howard,

    Thanks my friend for all you have contributed to the conversation here over the years.

    I believe you have rightly identified my goal at this blog and I know that is also the goal for you at your blog.

    And I must say that you always proprerly identify the problem, and then offer up the correct antidote, without making the patient jump through a single hoop.

    And you do it with grace, imagination, and eloquence.

  16. Here’s a good example of the Christ centeredness in which I believe.

    It’s a sermon by my pastor from a couple of Lents ago.

    I do believe it’s my all time favorite sermon as it is the most Christ centered that anyone could ever hear.


  17. A lot of this nonsense and demonic/false teaching, be it Rome’s or Baptist and all in between would disappear if the Law was really preached.

    When people anchor themselves in either overt (rank open works righteousness( or covert works (implied to know “I’m saved/elect/reborn/etc…the fruit detectors”) the Law must necessarily be tamed down to a house pet, that is to say no longer really the Law, it doesn’t crush and kill to pieces only kind of “gums you” a little bit (like an old man with no teeth trying to eat a tough a steak). When this happens the deception away from the sacraments as the anchors, that is to say Christ alone to and for you, occurs and the person re-anchors (so he/she thinks) upon other personal subjective items. When it comes to the personal level there’s always the need for a “pro me” (for me, how do I know). In Rome it seems to anchor itself in the “work performed”. In Reformed/Baptist circles (sacramentarians) the “pro me” anchors itself in works/fruit/secondary effects that either “prove I’m elect/saved/reborn/converted” (Calvinistic leaning religion), or maintenance faith so I don’t fall away (free will/arminian/Wesleyan leaning religion). That subjective “for me” exists whether we want it to or not and it must necessarily anchor either on shifting sands that will not stand or the Rock. What will cause the sands to shift and be utterly under cut is the real Law preached in ALL its killing force such that it MUST destroy and obliterate all works, even so called fruits or proofs of conversion/rebirth/election etc…. Any other “law” preached is no Law at all and really just a made up delusion of man’s fertile fallen mind, the tamed domesticated “law”.

    IF THE Law was really preached in all its annihilating fire such that it strikes the heart and soul of the hearer like it did in Acts 2 when Peter preached it, the reaction would indeed be, “brothers what shall we do!”. Upon which the power of baptism as the Word and name of God and the reality of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (which is in fact the VERY Gospel itself) would begin to be seen.

    Until then, the preaching of the undiluted Law, these other false idols that the “pro me” pretends to anchor the soul within simply block from sight the pure undiluted Gospel (which is the only Gospel there is pure and undiluted). The Law must raze these things and level them utterly to the ground, so that the Sacraments can actually give the real Gospel. It is as Luther very prophetically saw that on one hand if you cease to baptize infants, because of what that does to the doctrine, you loose the Gospel in Baptism. And secondly since the Lord’s Supper is in fact and reality the Gospel itself any attack (interpretation) put upon the Words of institution is of necessity an attack on the Gospel itself for it (the reinterpretation) changes the message pure and simple and thus is in fact not theory another gospel. It no surprise whatsoever that the logical extension of tinkering with the sacraments leads to Joyce Meyers and Benny Hinn, Rick Warren and Joel Olstean, not to mention Joseph Smith and Charles Grandison Finney, et. Ali. Once the sacraments are gone doctrinally, the Gospel Word as a message becomes an ever increasing fading echo at length no longer sounding. The Word literally dissipates into the wind as false words become louder and louder denominationally down generation to generation. One moves from say a Calvin, Spurgeon or Pope X who has some Gospel word there, but without the anchor of the sacraments that word becomes through time and space the dissipating echo as the false word first inserted by the same until it at length becomes a full blown cacophony we find and hear in a Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyers or Pope Y in the heterodox confessions. That’s why “leaven” leavens the whole lump at length. That’s why it’s dangerous.


    • Whether or not you choose to believe me, I happened to have been there when I first heard the soul crushing condemnation of the Law.

      From a Baptist.

      And I can assure you that God dealt directly with me through the preaching of that man.

      And yeah. It left me bleeding on the floor, begging “What can I do to be saved?”

      And the answer is “Absolutely nothing.” There’s no payback, no service, no series of hoops to jump through. Apart from being found in union with the Son, my very existence is an offense to God.

      *I* can do nothing to save myself–other than give up running and obediently allow God to teach and discipline me as He sees fit. It’s what the Law points out. It’s what the prophets pounded Israel about. It’s what Jesus said when He was here. It’s what Paul makes clear in His writings…

      • Heather,

        I mean this with all sincerity, this is why you have not heard the Law, really, it has not slain you as you think. I know I’ve been there too. It is why you don’t see the Gospel in the sacraments. A Lutheran pastor once well instructed me that you have not actually heard the Gospel until the “for me” is really heard. But you won’t see that if you are DOING thus:

        “”*I* can <<>> to save myself–<<>> God to teach and discipline me as He sees fit.”

        The old man always holds out for something.

      • Sorry the quote misqued should have been:

        *I* can do nothing to save myself–other than give up running and obediently allow God to teach and discipline me as He sees fit.

      • Well, Larry,

        I appreciate your sincerity. I wasn’t doubting that.

        What I meant was that I do believe I should be able to see evidence of real spiritual fruit in my life. The Lord prompts His people to do things that we, of ourselves would never be motivated to do. That is not a working “in” of salvation, but a working “out” of what is being done to us by Him. I’m not talking about perfection–or even gaining

        The attitude of repentance that we are instructed by Scripture to have before the Lord is not “works”. It is a condition of the heart that we are incapable of accomplishing of ourselves.

        When we are adopted into God’s family, we are submitting to Him as children to be trained and disciplined in His ways. The resulting change of behavior is not the same as frantically or smugly putting on a show so that everyone BUT God thinks I’m okay with Him.

      • Got distracted. I meant to write ” –or even gaining a better standing with God by doing a bunch of ‘good deeds'”

      • Well said, Heather. It’s about loving like the “woman of the town” rather than acting out of duty like a Pharisee. We’re not trying to earn our salvation, but to love Christ for what He’s done. You have drastically misunderstood Owen or Piper, Larry, if you think it’s about earning salvation.

  18. Well done, Larry!

    This topic is right up your alley!

    Larry’s blog focuses mostly on this exact topic, for those who’d like to check it out:

  19. For you Lutherans… 🙂

  20. Thanks Steve.

    Our pastor just this past Sunday had a profound insight reading from the account of Jesus as a young boy getting away from Joseph and Mary and teaching in the temple. Jesus tells His mother the famous, “did you not know I must be in My Father’s house…”. Mary’s response is that she does not understand these words but treasures them.

    One might recall Calvin responding to Luther, indirectly, on this issue that “a pious mind inquires and that’s OK” (paraphrased). But Calvin quickly forgets, lest his doctrine be revealed, that Mary piously accepts when she doesn’t understand but treasures up THE WORD OF GOD, even or especially if she doesn’t understand it in a situation.

    His exposition was this: That when we don’t understand the Word of/from God and thus directly turn away form it or do so by reinterpret it, that is like the hard ground upon which the Word comes and falls but finds no root because the ground is rock hard, reason rejects the absurdity on the face of it. Because we don’t understand it, we reject it. This Mary did NOT do, though she did not understand this Word from Jesus. Rather even though she did not understand it she stored it up, and kept it safe where she could ruminate upon it and bring it to maturation in its due season and due time.

    This is what happens, for example when I was an atheist, the absurdity of God dying on a inglorious cross. Likewise when I was a Baptist over baptism, the apparent absurdity (to fallen misused human reason) of it being God’s objective work, gives/works forgiveness, gives the Holy Spirit, etc…Likewise with the word’s of institution which really do speak plainly, “Our Lord Jesus Christ on the night when He was betrayed took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, “take eat, this is My body given for you. This do in rememberance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup after supper and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them saying, “Drink of it, all of you, this is the new testament in My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

    This Word either falls on good soil or rocks depending upon how the Law has worked the ground or not. When it falls on rocks it cannot root nor linger long because the birds of the air, demons and false teachers/doctrines, quickly swoop down with said false doctrine and grasp easily this unrooted Word on hard rock and carry it away by saying/communicating, “This is not the body and blood of Christ…hath God really said heretofore”, fallen reason being rock hard concurs.

    The Law needs necessarily to do its work.


  21. For the record, I unequivocally believe in the “real presence” of our Lord in a believer’s life–and the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction of sin, comfort during times of trouble and enlightenment to the truth that is in Scripture.

    Absolutely. No argument there.

    And, I do believe that children are included at some level concerning families being drawn together into the promises that accompany new life in Christ.

    I’m thinking where I must part ways with Lutherans is in our understanding of the mechanism by which this real presence becomes a part of us.

    But, I am listening, in case there is something I’ve missed.

    • Read Herman Sasse’s account of the Lord’s Supper and the issue at Marburg. It sets the historical and theological tone and nails the issue at hand. It helped me a LOT!

      The issue was never “real presence” nor the mode (a trick the Reformed always use) but the very body and blood of Christ. Too many things to go into here, get the book you won’t be disappointed.

      On one level its simple, why is it good and salutary that we eat the body and blood of Christ, why John say “eat His flesh” are stronger term? Luther answers with the same piety Mary did. In essence this, “I don’t know beyond that the Word has said so…” In a way that’s so simple, I may know WHY it is salutary as opposed to “eating” meaning “faith” (which is there too) but why is it salutary to have this sacramental eating that is not spiritual eating nor carnal eating? Luther’s answer is a powerful I don’t know other than God commands it, if He’d said eat mud, I’d eat mud for all God says is good and salutary.

      In fact for any analogy to link to the pascal lamb eating at the passover to make sense one must indeed in fact eat of the body/flesh of Christ.

      Check Sasse’s book on the Lord’s Supper. You can get it pretty cheap and you’ll enjoy it.


  22. Amen Heather! What some Lutherans can’t seem to understand is that not all Baptists are in the vein of Joel Osteen. Unity in Christ is not their strong point, to say the least.

    What they also do is routinely deny what Paul says over and over in the Epistles… “has God really said?” frequently rings out in some of their posts, particularly Larry’s. Rather, they want it to be about what we can DO to be saved, how we can baptize and bring people to God, the works-righteousness of Lutheran heterodoxy. Thankfully, I know a lot of Lutherans who don’t believe that the Sacraments are a way that we can save people. They believe in the atoning work of Christ alone!

    • Darius,
      Why would you draw a dichotomy between the atoning work of Christ and its application in and throught he sacraments he instituted.
      By the way, Lutherans don’t believe we save anyone through the sacraments or otherwise. But that the Holy Spirit works through the sacraments as well as the preached word to save people.
      Look we know not all Baptists are as crass as Joel Olsteen with plastic smiles. That doesn’t mean we still don’t take serious issue with your doctrines.

    • *We* don’t do anything in the sacraments–Christ does the work. Gives us his name in the waters of baptism, and his flesh and blood–for us, right then and there. The sacraments are His work, not ours.

      Those “Lutherans” you know who don’t believe Christ works anything in the sacraments other than a nice little commemorative meal are what we would call crypto-Calvinists.

  23. Do Lutherans practice foot washing?

    • Wash them every morning. 🙂

      • Cute.


        But I’m asking in all seriousness, as Jesus also said His disciples ought to be doing this, and at the same time as when He explained the significance of the bread and cup.

      • The literal washing of feet is not often done in the Lutheran Church, it is not a regular part of our liturgy. Some have done this here and there, often on Maundy Thursday. I am not in the habit of this, nor would I.
        In essence you are correct his washing of feet was in explanation of what is going on in the Lord’s Supper. So in that respect we do it every Sunday as we forgive one another even as we are forgiven at the Lord’s Supper. We serve each other in the church, and do not put ourselves above each other. Yeah right, which then is the reason we forgive each other again.
        But we don’t elevate the object lesson to that of a sacrament. The disciples themselves did not take away the message that they were to wash each others feet when they came together for the Lord’s Supper. But they knew well that they were to serve, and serve they did.

      • Okay thanks for that.

        I don’t want to get too far into the Lord’s Supper here as we are still discussing baptism.

        But I’ll keep this in mind.

  24. It really isn’t about the “I am of’ equation at all – it’s about what the Apostles state and the early church practiced on this, and the more I’ve read the scripture, early church history and the writings of the reformers and other theologians, the more I’ve been convinced that Luther was singing from the right hymn sheet on these issues, and that’s why it matters. I haven’t found any other mainline Western Christian denomination that takes Paul’s instructions, for example, on the Lord’s Supper in relation to the example of the Children of Israel as given in 1 Corinthians as seriously or as correctly as I have in the sacramental theology of the early church and Martin Luther, it’s as simple as that. We can skirt around it as much as we like, but it’s there, in the Apostles doctrine, in the practice of the early church, and in the emphasis of Luther.

    • In context, the 1 Corinthians statements about eating and drinking unworthily are surrounded by the reprimand for the infighting, tolerance of immorality, selfishness, lack of forgiveness etc that the believers had allowed to run rampant within their fellowship.

      That visible state of affairs was evidence of ongoing unrepentant heart attitude. Paul was calling them to repentance for their lack of humility and Godly concern for not only their brothers but also for the things of the Lord.

      Christ’s bride was being chastised for eating and drinking unworthily, and bringing shame to His name by behaving in a way that did not convey the truth to which they had openly professed.

  25. Which passage are you looking at?
    I think you’ve missed the one I’m referring to.

  26. Yes, I thought so.
    My clue was in the statement I made:
    “the Lord’s Supper in relation to the example of the Children of Israel”.
    Paul’s first references to the subject comes in 1 Corinthians 10, and it never ceases to amaze me just how many denominations completely skip this, probably because of what it says (and because of how it was understood by the Church Fathers, and, how that lead to the use of the Lord’s Supper in the first 3 centuries). Paul clearly relates/parallels our participation of the supper with the events surrounding the baptism/participation “in” Moses and Christ with ours. This leads him to make clear that in communion, we participate in the body and blood of Christ, and that is how the Fathers understood it. When I’ve discussed this passage with Reformed teachers, they’ve tried to wriggle around Paul’s words, but any commentator worth their salt, whatever their persuasion, will honestly state there something pretty profound here that Luther most certainly gets.
    There’s lots more that could be said here, but it’s all about facing the teaching itself, and that’s what, I believe, we’re called to do.

    • Yes, I agree that chapter 10 is incredibly hard to swallow considering the implications of the Israelites having all participated in taking of the same spiritual food/drink yet many perished. We dare not take lightly our professed connection with the blood and body of Christ.

      I was citing overall context. 10 leads directly into 11 and Paul is definitely chastising these people for their refusal to learn the lesson of true, Christlike humility as Bror and I were discussing above.

      I’m getting spread too thin, so I guess I’ll just bow out of this for now and chew on what’s been said.

      Take care, guys.

  27. “What I meant was that I do believe I should be able to see evidence of real spiritual fruit in my life.”

    But see here, Heather, the Law slays or should where we must necessarily look to Christ Who is (the body and blood of Christ Himself) and gives the sacrament. This is not a focus on Christ alone FROM which “real spiritual fruit” arises in one’s life. This is a rank focus on self. Faith does not speak this way, it speaks of Christ, fruit simply exudes from THAT faith that speaks of Christ alone. “Faith” that looks to so called “real spiritual fruit”, is not really real faith at all. If I say I’m married to my wife and I love her in a quick sentence, then I spend the majority of my time talking about this other woman at work, the object of my affections is painfully obvious and I’m only giving lip service as the “right answer” to the question when asked. Likewise when asked heterodox confessions are asked, “Is Christ alone enough” (who do you love), know the right answer in the face of the question, “Christ alone” (my wife), but then betray their real doctrine, the heterodoxy of other christ’s, gospels, spirits, etc…when allowed to talk normally with their guard down. Heterodoxy reveals itself because heterodoxy is all over the maps doctrinally speaking. For example in the LS they do not agree at all on what the LS IS but only agree in what it IS NOT, but what it IS is all over the maps. An odd reality for those supposedly thinking and supporting the Word of God as clear and singularly truthful rather than multiple choice (heterodoxy).

    So, if one is hearing the Law correctly spiritual fruit cannot in ANY WAY comfort you or me. It is impossible in light of the Law, the Law does “dim its” fire or change one bit. To be sure fruit does come about but it comes about from the Gospel which is of course is the sacrament. The Lord’s Supper could not be more clear upon this point when Jesus said “this is…My body/blood…” which is the very Gospel itself, in fact Paul says as we do this we actually proclaim the Gospel.

    Take your term “real spiritual fruit in my life” in my life and realistically look at it, look at what you are saying. First of all the big limiting adjective “real” narrows quite a bit. How do you know it is “real”. Any answer you will give me – or for that matter I give you, I’m not “picking on you” and anything I say can be said of myself and all men and women for that matter – can be utterly destroyed by the Law as utterly false and the confession of hypocrites, even as self delusion. For you can never really upon it, can you, not if you are honest, not if you really believe and confess what Scripture says about us sinners. It says “every man is a liar”, “the heart is deceptive above all things who can know it”. If we confess what God says is true then we must confess this, not just “before I became a Christian, but today in ever present. Self deceptive is exactly what it means, the self is utterly deceived, the self is not “outside itself” looking in and saying, “I recognize where I’m self deceived”. That would not be self deception. Such inward looking, especially to the heart, is to stare into the dark abyss and source sin (as Jesus says) and say, “Hey I’ve found proof”. Remember first and foremost Scripture “exposits us” not us it and thus when Jeremiah, for example, says, “the heart is wicked above all things who can know it”, he’s not kidding and he’s not pretending self deception and sin. The Holy Spirit is not making a joke. It calls all men liars, me too, not just yesterday but today and now, not just before becoming a Christian either. Thus any “real spiritual fruit in my life” can be called false and thus a delusion so great it deludes men and women into thinking they are pulling it off. At length they bear witness to themselves talking about themselves, even “how bad they are” is a form of self aggrandizing, a form of “I will make myself very humble before men”, which is exactly the very opposite of humility. That’s not at all the way faith talks. Paul did not say in 1 Cor. As long as you can exhort and talk much about “real spiritual fruit in your life” you proclaim the Lord’s death. That is to say the Gospel, that is to say proclaiming Christ alone. If a confession proclaims “Christ alone” then it should, not “real spiritual fruit in my life”. But Paul did in fact say that as often as we eat of the body and blood of Christ we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Jesus very emphatically says in John 6 in very strong words “if you eat (chew) of my flesh (as opposed to body) and drink of My blood you have (present tense) eternal life, and I will raise you up on the last day (the resurrection we actually hold in the LS)”. And similarly, “he who eats of My flesh (again the strong term) and drinks of My blood abides IN ME and I IN HIM. Thus, we see in the LS the strong eschatological reality of the dawning kingdom, for real, not just in empty signs and symbols comes to us in the LS whereby we both possess eternal life NOW and IN THE FUTURE, AND Christ indwells IN us and we IN Him, which Paul is spelling out over in 1 Cor. On the very same issue of the LS. But note how this faith talks, it talks for real and actually of Christ and Him crucified. That’s a far different religion that talks more of “real spiritual fruit in my life”. Don’t look at me, the “real spiritual fruit in my life”, look to Christ.

    More simply put ANY “real spiritual fruit in my life” can be slain utterly by the Law, not one can stand, not one single one. You exhibit rightly what I said before, we ALL must have the ‘pro me’, for me, how do I know it is “for me”. You state by “real spiritual fruit in my life”, for which the Law can destroy and indeed does, none can stand. How does a Christian KNOW, it is “for me”, because that’s the crucial part, no man or woman can live otherwise nor can they exude the true real spiritual fruit until the “for me” is fulfilled. The for me comes before true real spiritual fruit, it is not the “for me” itself. Thus, any “real spiritual fruit in my life”, that precedes the “for me” (the Good News) is really not “real spiritual fruit”. It cannot be for know fruit OF the Spirit can precede the Gospel whereby the Spirit gives what it says. Thus, the critical for me comes in the Gospel that comes to and for me for real in baptism (Gospel) and the Lord’s Supper which is precisely as Paul say the Gospel. This sacrament is precisely the very Gospel, the body of Christ given for you, the blood of Christ shed for you for the forgiveness of sin, the blood of the new covenant itself. No beggarly sign or symbol actually IS the Gospel, we are past the blood of bulls and goats of the OT and onto the reality. To make the LS a sign and symbol is to return to the OT ways which are gone since they are fulfilled.

    Thus, we do not look at our “real spiritual fruit in our life” to “know we are saved”. That’s upside down. We look to Christ alone to KNOW we HAVE good works.

    As a related discussion to this you will find a wonderful posting by Gneiso Lutheran over at this link:

    Enjoy, ruminate on this, and enjoy.

    Yours truly,


    • Thanks Larry.
      You’ve definitely got the killing purpose of the Law in hand.

      Yes, we are all liars and our hearts deceive us all the time. I’m not trusting in my ability to pile up spiritual fruit. I’m looking for evidence of repentance.

      I hate to cut and paste but wanted to offer 1Corinthians 11:31-32 “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
      But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

      We are disciplined in the Lord specifically because we are foolish and need to learn. The natural man is incapable of discerning spiritual truth. Paul writes:

      ” But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
      But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one.
      For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

      We can’t trust our own hearts. But we certainly trust God’s promise to reveal His truth to those He is drawing to Himself.

      I really need to get going, now.

      Have fun, all.

      • “The natural man is incapable of discerning spiritual truth. Paul writes”

        Yes, and Jesus concurs in John 6, speaking of eating his flesh drinking his blood, that man’s flesh (brain/heart) is of no help at all in comprehending such matters. But he has to help us by the HS to trust in his word when he says this is my body/blood…for you.

  28. What Jesus had to say about his own disciples’ disbelief in the “real presence” in the sacrament in John 6:54ff:

    “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this?Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’

    Apparently, some just didn’t get it, rejected it, and couldn’t ‘jin it up in their own hardened ‘flesh’; it doesn’t compute.

    But Jesus draws no dichotomy about himself (his Christology) here: ‘I’m the bread who came down from heaven to offer myself for you, and I offer myself and you have to eat/drink me in the sacrament, and I’m coming back in glory again.” He’s the whole enchilada, you can’t hold the sour cream. So to reject the real presence in the LS is a rejection of Christ’s own Christology.

  29. “So, if one is hearing the Law correctly spiritual fruit cannot in ANY WAY comfort you or me. It is impossible in light of the Law, the Law does “dim its” fire or change one bit’.

    Bulls eye, Larry – that really sums it up. We are entirely naked under the law – Christ alone is the only answer.

    “What Jesus had to say about his own disciples’ disbelief in the “real presence” in the sacrament”.

    And that’s also spot on, Erich. How much of the revelation is truth, when it is actually brandished before us as the ‘sword of the spirit’ can the natural man actually accept, let alone comprehend?

    The children of Israel were lost because of the fact that they did not believe the very God that was them, in the very food they ate and waters that they drank, which sprang from Christ. We are so easily guilty of the same blindness.

  30. Amended (typo)
    “So, if one is hearing the Law correctly spiritual fruit cannot in ANY WAY comfort you or me. It is impossible in light of the Law, the Law does “dim its” fire or change one bit’.

    Bulls eye, Larry – that really sums it up. We are entirely naked under the law – Christ alone is the only answer.

    “What Jesus had to say about his own disciples’ disbelief in the “real presence” in the sacrament”.

    And that’s also spot on, Erich. How much of the revelation of truth, when it is actually brandished before us as the ’sword of the spirit’ can the natural man actually accept, let alone comprehend?

    The children of Israel were lost because of the fact that they did not believe the very God that was them, in the very food they ate and waters that they drank, which sprang from Christ. We are so easily guilty of the same blindness.

  31. You see clearly how the Law must be evaded at every turn so that “fruits” (false fruits) can become the assurance of salvation, which is another way of saying ultimate faith (assurance) is in works not Christ alone. The Law must be overtly evaded in order for this to stand and with it the Sacraments, and the Gospel evaded.

    Like I said if the Law is not heard in its killing force, for real, then the Gospel cannot be seen nor apprehended for real. To nullify the force of the Law in say Jeremiah or anywhere else, to house domesticate it by using other scripture is reckless and folly.

    “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned…etc…” does not mean that now I some how gnostically can discern that “fruits in my life” are proof of my salvation/election/rebirth etc… That’s shear gnosticism which has no support in Scripture whatsoever. It’s utter nonsense to use this verse to cool the Law down to a touchable temperature in order that “fruits in my life” become the de facto assurance that I’m saved/reborn/elect/converted or otherwise. In fact using such verses to domesticate the Law, if that were even possible outside of delusion, is in fact the VERY “natural man not receiving the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned…etc…” The Law so undiluted becomes foolish to them, so then does the Gospel, and so then does the sacraments which IS the Gospel, especially the Lord’s Supper. It is like the unbelieving laughing at Noah building his Ark, “Noah tell me again about this “super flood” that will cover the earth and your Ark here on dry land will what again.”

    To change “This is My body/blood for the forgiveness of sins” to “This is NOT My body/blood for the forgiveness of sins” is to openly alter the Gospel. A change in the LS is a change in the Gospel because one is the other and thus another gospel. That’s why this sacrament is the battle ground of the orthodox church where ever she is and nothing less. The church does not exist without this sacrament, the church is built upon this very sacrament, Paul’s precise point 1 Cor. 10/11. In fact where this sacrament is unlike any other religion the church has stood and will stand until the Lord returns, “as often as you do this, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”. This is why over the centuries the evangelical, per se, heterodox confessions continue to unravel more and more over time until at length, are nothing whatsoever Christian.

    To put it another way the incarnate God worshipped by the orthodox stated and meant, “This IS My body/blood…”. The “god” who says (doctrinally via changing the words to mean “represents”, “signifies”, “symbolizes”), “This is NOT My body/blood…” is not the God confessed nor worshipped by the orthodox confessions and those within.


  32. Quote, “In context, the 1 Corinthians statements about eating and drinking unworthily are surrounded by the reprimand for the infighting, tolerance of immorality, selfishness, lack of forgiveness etc that the believers had allowed to run rampant within their fellowship.
    That visible state of affairs was evidence of ongoing unrepentant heart attitude. Paul was calling them to repentance for their lack of humility and Godly concern for not only their brothers but also for the things of the Lord.
    Christ’s bride was being chastised for eating and drinking unworthily, and bringing shame to His name by behaving in a way that did not convey the truth to which they had openly professed.”, end quote.
    I struggled with this one nearly all the way up to coming into the Lutheran confession. In fact it was during catechism that the pastor helped me on this one. What we shall surprisingly find is that what Paul is actually condemning and teaching against there is pretty much what you stated itself which its self begets the very divisive behavior it thinks it helps out.
    My normal taught read of that passage with my Reformed/Baptistic background was pretty much as you said. It comes from fundamentally seeing that passage this way: The church body is fundamentally formed by the gathering of the saints, like the gathering of all members of the Moose Lodge form the Moose Lodge. The community forms the gathering. Thus Paul must be addressing this which addresses the attitudes, in essence various forms of divisive behavior, the rich not letting the poor in to eat, etc… Therefore, the word “UNWORTHY” comes be an ADJECTIVE. An adjective if you recall is a modifying word, better a limiting word that modifies or limits another word, namely a noun. Therefore, we say not just any car but a red car.
    Though Paul is addressing their behavior it is not in that way. Paul does not say nor was calling them to repentance for their lack of humility and Godly concern for not only their brothers but also for the things of the Lord. In other words “clean your act up guys”. That’s not at all what Paul says to do. The divisive behavior was real and wrong but it was signatory of a much more true problem. They failed to recognize, and here it is, the body and blood of the Lord. The divisive behavior was signatory of that. Because the gathering together that forms the church, is not EVEN first nor foremost the gathering of Christian believers, but rather around the very body and blood of Christ. Those gathered around this truly as the body and blood of Christ form the body of Christ. This is the mystery Paul is getting at, by truly eating the body (and blood) of Christ the body (called the church) is formed. This is also what John states Christ stating in John 6, the great mystery, “he who eats of My flesh and drinks My blood, HE ABIDES IN ME AND I IN HIM”. The mystery linking the body of Christ (in the sacrament) with the body of Christ (the true church). If they (we) then recognize the body and blood of the Lord (given for us sinners, the real body and real blood that is), what Paul says, then the divisiveness goes away. It has its own humbling effect. Thus, the word “UNWORTHY” is not an adjective but more like an adverb. It, therefore, is not modifying the condition a person is in to come to the Lord’s table, in fact that arrogance disguised as humility causes the very divisiveness Paul is speaking of – rather to take the Lord’s Supper in an “UNWORTHY” way is to do so in an “UNWORTHY” MANNER. That is to say to NOT recognize the real and true body and blood of Christ (what Paul actually states), and to be treating it just like any other meal or even symbolically only. The “UNWORTHY” manner is to not recognize or confess and thereby eat and drink the true body (flesh) and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, and NOT a condition of the person (the adjective). When I’m eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, it has a rather infinite humbling effect. It’s down right impossible to be really and truly recognizing “this is the real body and blood of Christ, so holy my mouth and body are unworthy to take it” and still remain divisive to my brother or sister next to me whose eating and drinking that same Gospel, that same forgiveness that I am. It is in fact linked to two deep petitions in the Lord’s Prayer: “give us this day our daily bread”, meaning primarily the true bread of life Christ whereby eternal life is given through the forgiveness of sins (though it includes secondarily normal food to live by). That petition which transitions into the next one, “forgive us our sins/trespasses”, that is to say that we may recognize and KNOW we are forgiven in the Gospel which we already have and had alluded to in the last petition which too alludes the Lord’s Supper and the body and blood that gives forgiveness of sins. This in turn transitions into part “b” of that petition, “as we forgive those who have sinned/trespassed against us.



  33. “I’m a little gun-shy here because I know our understanding of the significance of the sacraments is different and I really, really don’t want anyone here to misunderstand my position to be one of works righteousness or that I discount these precious signs of our faith as being nothing more than empty ritual.”

    OK, so if there’s no real presence (i.e. no “communion”), and you believe it is not just an “empty ritual” then what is left?

    Only Works: “See, Lord? Here I am! Look at me, I have faith, so I am getting dunked. Here I am again to commemorate you in the grape juice, aren’t I faithful!”

  34. Erich, it’s not an empty ritual!!!! The Passover wasn’t some empty ritual just because, after the original one, there was no salvation happening through it. God didn’t command his people to partake in empty rituals! But He also didn’t want them to perform them like they are earning their salvation, which is what you are trying to make them. You say “eat this and you’re saved or jump into this water and you will go to heaven…” Can you not see how ludicrous that is and what an affront it is to the grace of God????

    • Darius,
      Read the story of Naaman in second kings five, then tell me how foolish it is to listen to God when he says he is going to do something in a certain way. If he wants to save through Baptism he very well can and does.

      • Therein lies your mistake. It IS foolish to not believe God when He says something. It is even more foolish to make Him say something He never did. He saves through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (John the Baptist talked about this), not through some human ritual. Until you can figure out how to read the Bible accurately, you’ll continue in this terrible error.

      • No Darius, therein lies your mistake.
        You find two baptisms, one of the Holy Spirit and one of water, when the Bible Clearly confesses that there is but one baptism, and that one requires water. It is not a human ritual but one that Christ has instituted, unless you cut Matthew 28 out of your Bible. The Disciples understood this to include water, as they used water when they baptized. You drive a false dichotomy.
        Well you can follow Heather and I on this in the Methodist thread. I would also recomend to you the book “Scriptural Baptism” by Uuraas Saarnivaara.

    • When you take Christ out of the sacrament–out of where he says he is at–then you make it an empty ritual–nothing more than a work that you do. You make it a ritual that is plainly a denial of Christ and a replace it with your own works. Christ is where he says he is–he can come the God-man born of a virgin, in with under a sip of wine and piece of bread, and a sprinkle of water. Why do you deny him that authority?

      By the way, the you are right about the purpose of the Passover; it was a foreshadowing of sacrament.

  35. Though seeing, yet not seeing…. it seems so obvious, yet so many of you are completely blind to the truth of God’s grace. You somehow think you can earn it by some rituals, when in fact it’s free for the taking.

    • God offers grace in word and sacrament. The gospel of grace (our Righteousness on account of Christ) is to be found wherever his (Christ’s) name is–where he tells us he is to be found; word, water, bread/wine–all given FOR us.

  36. Darius,
    I don’t know how to put this more clearly to you. God makes promises and attaches these promises to the water of baptism, and to his body and blood in the bread and wine, he gives these things to us and through them works salvation. He says this, not us. We don’t “earn” salvation by doing this things, but through these things God bestows his gifts upon us. It isn’t a question of earning but receiving.
    I think if God wanted us to do something to earn salvation it would be a bit more involved than having someone sprinkle water over us, or sharing in a meal with him. I go to lunch with a friend, and he pays the meal ticket, am I “earning” anything thereby? So it is with the Lord’s Supper.

  37. Not listening to God …

    (He is the One who commands that we partake of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion – He is the One who orders us to baptize people..all people…no age requirement mentioned)…

    is foolish.

    When you don’t believe that God is somehow at work in these things that He has ordered us to do (to listen to some here…for no apparent reason other than an empty ritual)…

    then one has to get busy proving to themselves and to others that they really belong to God. How? Their empty religious works, and seriousness.

    I’ll tell you right now. You (anyone reading this) are not serious about God.

    If you think you are, you are delusional.

    But God is serious about you, and HE DECIDED to show you by attaching Himself to the promises He makes to you in the Sacraments.

    Great comments, all. Even those that disagree with me (us) because they are helping to make more clear the reasons for God commanding the Sacraments.

  38. It’s assinine to call it a “human ritual” when God instituted it. When God the incarnate God through HIS lips said “Go and baptize….” “Take eat, drink of it all of you…”. Christ was certainly not guilty of instituting a vain human ritual.

    I find it most amazing that so called “bible only” and “spirit alone” confessions on the one hand accuse Lutherans of sticking only to their confessions and not the Scripture; YET have to go to their own confessions and not the Scripture to find their words “this represents, signifies, etc…” for those words appear no where in Scritpure regarding the LS.

    Yet, if a Lutheran wishes to defend the words “this is” he/she may go to the BoC or may go to the Scriptures, because they actually literally say the same thing.

  39. This also goes back to a very fundamental issue, other confessions introduce philosophy into their understanding, namely Platonism. For them a “sign” is a sign of something absent. That’s a philosophical sign distilled from the wisdom of the world. Yet a theological sign is a sign of the actual and real prescence of a thing, not its absence.

    The philosophical sign is explained thus, I see a sign that says “Disney Land 50 Miles”. It’s not the reality but a sign pointing to the reality, the reality is absent.

    A theological sign is God exercising His right hand in His creation where He said He would, in this case, be savingly for you. It’s like Luther said there’s an acute difference in God being in and transcending all things, there we cannot grab Him or have Him as it were. Human rituals try this route. Rather He is where He said He is for us savingly, in reality in Word, bread and wine.

    Reformed and in particular baptist do not really believe God comes even in His Word of Gospel either, its why their pastors have no authoritative speech of absolution. For the Spirit is seen as operating beside, above, below, in front or behind the word…if at all. They view the Word as empty as they do the Sacraments. Two men hear the Gospel same time, same place, same Word. One comes to faith the other never does, the doctrine says the Spirit operated on one and not the other, the Word was irrelevant as they see the Spirit ultimately operating immediately and nakedly without the Word, that’s why one didn’t believe. Yet they fail to see that the bible clearly speaks of rejecting the Holy Spirit, if He didn’t come in the Word (or Sacraments) to the one guy because He didn’t come immediately operating upon the naked soul, then unbeliever didn’t reject anything because nothing ever came to him…just some sound waves formed by the compression of air molecules through a diaphram and mouth that we just happen to form and call “language” noises that structure sentences.


  40. Agree it’s great comments. But we still have yet to hear from the dissenters what they actually *have* in their LS and baptism practice. They are adamant they do not have an empty ritual–well, what then?

    • I believe that what they have is a toast.

      ‘Everyone raise your glass and remember good old Jesus!’

      And then really try and buckle down and get serious about this stuff…

  41. “They are adamant they do not have an empty ritual–well, what then?”

    A glorious time of remembrance (with the Lord’s Supper) and a public statement of faith (with baptism). When I celebrate communion, it is one of the most precious things I do to both remember my Lord’s sacrifice and repent of my sin. God knows that humans need to remember and recall things otherwise our faith grows dim. You see this throughout the Old Testament… God keeps telling his people to tell each other what He has done.

    As a pastor friend of mine recently said, “I absolutely reject the view that the “remembrance” view is a low view of the Lord’s Supper. Words have power. What we say and think and do during the Lord’s Supper is very, very powerful. God created through words. We were made new creations through words. God reveals himself through words. People hear and believe the gospel through words. Christ sustains the universe through words. It’s incomprehensible to me why people think that the remembrance view is a low view of the Lord’s Supper if the words we use are significant merely because I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that the bread is Jesus or that Jesus is floating around and through the bread.”

    • Just like I said, it’s just a toast to good ol’ Jesus.

      Talk about empty!

    • So these words have power, according to your doctrine;

      “This is not the body Christ given for you”, “this is not the cup of the new covenant in Christ’s blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sin””

      Your pastor friend makes a mistake, its not a “low view” of the sacraments/remembrance, that’s dishonest to call it that. It’s non-vew of the sacrament/remembrance.

      • So tell me, then, what was in the very first cup and bread? Jesus was right there, and he hadn’t been ransomed and crucified for us yet. So obviously it was just wine and bread. So you’re saying that the first Lord’s Supper was just an empty toast by Jesus???

      • “So tell me, then, what was in the very first cup and bread? Jesus was right there, and he hadn’t been ransomed and crucified for us yet. So obviously it was just wine and bread. So you’re saying that the first Lord’s Supper was just an empty toast by Jesus???”
        There was in the cup and in the bread the very thing the omnipetent God who was standing there offering said there was in the Cup and Bread, His body and blood! Can He be any clearer on that?

      • omnipotent, sorry for the misspelling

    • To quote Darius’s pastor friend “Words have power”. But that is an understatement when it comes to God’s word. Unless your baptist, then you think your word is more powerful than God’s.

    • Well, such a low view of the sacrament (low view of Christ “floating around”) is just too bad.

      What is meant by “remember me?” Remember the good ol’ Jesus toast?

      I wasn’t at Pearl Harbor, but I can remember it without an annual pilgrimage for a ceremony at the USS Arizona.

      No, Lutherans say the “remember” of the LS is Jesus’ command to “make me (and my benefits) a part of you. If you want to remember me, then here–eat me/drink me.”

    • Well, whose words are powerful? Our words? What we say and do in the ritual? How pious we act? Filthy rags all.

      His Word is powerful–and trustworthy. When *he* says, “take eat/drink this IS my body/blood for you”–you can believe it.

  42. Erich,

    Good points, but I’m afraid we won’t hear that they only agree in what it is not, none agree on what it actually is. It goes back to baptist believers baptism, “did the 35 year old baptized by profession and immersion who later denied the faith utterly receive a baptism”. Do you rebaptize him later? Was the first a baptism but then you must admit you believe in two baptism and thus not confess with the Nicene Creed or church or Paul which say we believe in one baptism. Or do you say, “no he didn’t receive a baptism”, whereby you openly admit your doctrine as an empty human ritual, whereby the pastor committed a vain act before God and that baptism is based upon the creature faith which is then idolatry, and that the name of the Trinity spoken during the baptism is perceived to be more or less vain (a violation of the second commandment, third in some number orders).

    You’ll get nothing but indirect philosophical punts on that.

  43. The Greek word for remember was ‘memnosco’.

    It doesn’t mean to merely ‘remember’. It is a word that refers to something that happened in the past but it is a thing that is actually carried to the present, and still happens now, in the present.

    I may have mispelled the word, but it does not mean the same as our word ‘remember’.

    • Actually, the Greek word for remembrance in the context of:

      Luke 22:19 And He took bread and gave thanks, and He broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you, this do in remembrance of Me. anamnesis.

      and denotes not simply “in memory” as though a person is dead and gone, but an affectionate calling to mind of the Person Himself.

      Greek is pretty precise and words tend to not be interchangeable as they are in English.

      I personally believe in a “real presence” of Christ during communion. Just not “in” the elements. The elements cause us to be mindful of Him as we fellowship in Spirit.

      Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst. (not directly connected with partaking of the Lord’s Supper, but would include the Lord’s Supper as shared among brethren.)

      • I said I was moving out and had to jump back in 😦

        Sorry, guys.

        Carry on.

      • Heather,
        I so want to jump in here, but I will refrain if we can pick up the other thread. We can discuss the Lord’s Supper later. Though I cannot resist saying one thing. of the four places the words of institution are recorded, the bit about remembrance (and that word has many shades of meaning, though you do get the right word Heather) is only recorded twice. It isn’t essential to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. So probably not helpful to argue over what it means to remember.

      • “The elements cause us to be mindful of Him as we fellowship in Spirit.”–Calvinist gnosticism.

        That’s like we say “Sorry I missed the party, but I was with you in spirit.” No, you weren’t.

        “Where 2 or 3 are gathered” that is how Christ comes through the means of grace in the preaching of the Word–where his name is.

        But, he says he is also to be found in the elements of the LS, another means of grace–where his name is–and in the water of baptism, the word connected with the water–where his name is.

        As Luther says, where Christ’s name is, there is the forgiveness of sins.

      • Erich,

        “As Luther says, where Christ’s name is, there is the forgiveness of sins.”

        That’s good, indeed great. Nothing says “Gospel” like that. The implications are HUGE. Think about that in baptism! It’s just like I teach our children about their baptisms, objective, Christ/God baptized you, HE gave you HIS name, among those names is “in the name of the Son, a few of those names Who is the Son are Emmanual “God is with us”, Hosanna “Save us now Lord”, and Jesus “Yaweh saves or He will save His people from their sin”. Now put that with what Luther said, where Christ’s name is, THERE IS the forgiveness of sins. And I might add as Luther says also, where there IS forgiveness of sins there IS life.

        Man that is Gospel worth dying for, yes even tortured for and all from the Word and Sacraments, rich to and for you/me!

        I think you made my day!!!


      • “Where there IS forgiveness of sins there IS life, AND salvation.” Amen and Amen!

        Take Christ out of it, and you’re left with, well, yourself.

      • Heather,

        One of the problems with that, I learned not too long ago, because that’s what I use to believe attempting reconcile Calvin with Luther as a Reformed confessing Christian is that it divides the two natures of Christ. A Lutheran pastor put it nicely this way: There is no second person where there is not the incarnation. In other words Christ’s two natures are not as Zwingli or Calvin see it where the incarnation is more or less tacked onto the side of the deity.

        This is why both men had trouble with the Lord’s Supper in which they saw the incarnation “boxed in”, but then they must necessarily create a heresy in which you have the second person in some instances without the incarnation. Calvin consequently has problems in other passages regarding some of the miracles of Christ in His body. It also begets that their view of heaven was really Greek philosophy, this kind of space up in the air above the air somewhere.

        The implications are many but first and foremost we must see and admit, Sasse points this out, that the number one reason they refuse to take the Word’s of institution as they stand, because it presents an apparent absurdity to us (which all articles of faith do necessarily), is due to that apparent absurdity which is linked to the paradox of the two natures itself. Here we see that the reason the Word’s of institution by Calvin, Zwingli and others are not taken AS IS is not exegetical at all, but presupposed on reason rejecting the paradox which is ultimately rejecting the two natures. So they go back INTO the Scriptures to reinterpret them rather than AS IS.

        The implications of that “reading INTO” scripture what is not there is that Zwingli on the one hand must interpret “is” to mean “represents”. Calvin on the other makes it signatory, not much different, but adds that we go into heaven to spiritually eat (faith) of Christ’s body and blood (which makes the LS itself really superfluous since that can be done anytime anywhere food or no food, drink or no drink). Both end up either splitting part of the deity away from the incarnation (heresy) or in order to not do that binding the deity with the incarnation’s limitations.

        That’s why the issue is really a form of the old Gnostic heresies, albeit more subtle per se.


  44. He says if you do NOT eat my body and drink my blood, then you have no life in me.

    There are some powerful words.

    Unless our Lord just happend to be into empty rituals Himself. I doubt that He was.

  45. Regarding Jesus being there and giving His body and blood to eat and drink and it not having taken place just then, misses the point of the entire incarnation and suffering of Christ. Christ’s body and blood were not just given to be shed on that very day at Calvary. To be sure that is the culminating glory of it all, but from His very incarnation in the womb of Mary was His body and blood so given to suffer and did suffer the entire time. This is why the supper was instituted and meant what it said “on the night He was betrayed”, literally, “this is My body/blood given/shed” From Mathew, Mark, Luke and John chapters 1 and on. The later, Sasse points out, sets the historical reality of the Lord’s Supper as opposed to other pagan myths. It was not just a calendar date it was historically “on the night He was betrayed”.

    The “in remembrance…” does not mean only “recall” like “I remember my birthday” though I was not cognizant of the event that I can tell. Nor does it mean remembrance in a “real presence” of say the deity which is to divide and tear asunder the two natures, which we are never given license to do. The remembrance, “THIS do in remembrance of Me” and “This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me”, encompasses what is said, “This body (this is My body) that you eat (take eat) given for you remember what it is that you actually eat and is given for you in your mouth right now that very body that was given for you.” “This blood (this is My blood) that you drink (drink of it all of you) shed for you for the forgiveness of sins remember what it is that you actually are drinking, that very and true blood that was shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” This is why Paul says discern the body and blood of the Lord so that you remember all of that and what is in your mouth is not just mere bread and mere wine.

    One item Sasse reiterates that Luther recognized from Zwingli was that Zwingli was over come by the temptation that Luther was not, a temptation that tempts all theologians is the temptation to allow reason with the devil’s offering up to get behind what is not revealed by the Word of God. In this way man is so easily persuaded to get around and deny the Word of God while he has plausible deniability to do so. Both Zwingli and Calvin allowed the devil to enter into their minds via this route. This is a temptation Luther didn’t succumb to. In short where the Word speaks we stop and where it does not we pursue no further. This is how fallen human reason usurps the very Word of God using the very Word of God whereby it does not see its own self deception and that it is actually listening to the devil. It’s as fundamental as the fall when the devil tempted Adam and Eve using the Word itself only reinterpreted slightly. The way of temptation for Zwingli was as he explicitly said himself and Calvin implicitly stated in other ways that God would not state incomprehensible things to us. Luther immediately recognized this as false and the enemy, but rather every single article of the Christian faith and of necessity and the Scriptures state this itself IS incomprehensible. It was nothing less than the old “hath God really said”. Every single article of faith is incomprehensible and taken only nakedly on faith alone. Not a blind leap in the dark, but based on the spoken
    Word even when it is absurd. This principle of faith is pregnant throughout the entire Scripture. Examples are too numerous to list. Jesus healing the blind man with mud and His spittle. Incomprehensible, yet God did it because the Word is the life itself. The incarnation, the Trinity. This is why Luther said if God said, “Eat mud”, I would do so even if it sounds absurd. So when Jesus said, “This is My body/blood…take eat/drink…for the forgiveness of sins”, reason must stop pondering how and why both Rome’s transubstantiation and the sacramentarians rationalism, and simply believe, trust and do exactly what the Words state and not rationalize them away. In this way many a great theologian becomes a tragedy to not be celebrated but lamented. Zwingli and Calvin and many others are great tragedies because they were very gifted, yet they let the devil enter into their minds and take control…a great temptation any theologian or layman can succumb to.


  46. Over at Cyberbrethern Pastor McCain makes a great observation regarding the false charge against Luther not finishing the reformation and his sacramental theology being a hold over from Rome, the great irony is that the Zwinglian/Calvinistic and their hiers theology is a return to Rome’s infused grace, that’s the irony of it all:

    “Separating the revelation and operation of grace from the means of grace is, in effect, a reversion to the Romish “infused grace” (gratia infusa) and therefore a defection from the Christian doctrine of justification. For when men set aside the external means of grace, they can no longer base their confidence in God on God’s gracious disposition (favor Dei propter Christum), i.e., on the forgiveness of sin for Christs sake, which the grace of God offers in the Gospel promise and which is to be believed on the basis of this objective promise and offer; they necessarily base their confidence in God on an inward transformation, illumination, and renewal, which allegedly is effected by an immediate operation. This reduces grace in the final analysis to a good quality in man.”

  47. It’s crucial to see that Calvin never actually left Rome per se, or at best chased his tail all the way back around to Rome. What’s key to see in the infused grace concept, whether formally stated as Rome did or informally produced as Calvin did is that see more or less there is this “grace” that is this infusion (Rome’s language) or rebirth/conversion (Calvinistic Language) whereby men are enabled to act in some way toward God. Arminianism has an “infusion” of grace its just put in the general creation of man. The common link with all three, Rome, Calvin and its various strains, and Arminianism and its various strains is there is some “infused grace” somewhere in the chain of human events that occurs outside of the means of grace or at best “close behind them”.

    Rome places the infusion in the issuance of the means of grace, which most Calvinist and Baptist immediately rightly reject. But then they put the “infused grace”, though not called or named that, into some other secretive operation on the soul immediately and think they’ve left Rome because they’ve rejected Rome’s sacramental theology. When all along its not the sacraments that are the problem. What the later two, Calvinist/Baptist of the TULIP persuasion, fail to see is it’s not the sacraments, means of grace, that are the problem, but the ENTIRE concept in its various forms of this “infused grace” to move toward God, believe or otherwise; whether its Rome’s ex opera operato or Puritan/Calvinistic/Baptistic immediate operation on the soul conversion/rebirth theories. Infused grace is the false teaching, and infused grace by any other name is infused grace – a rose is a rose by any other name.

    It’s the “infused grace”, Rome or sacramentarian that Luther and Lutheran confessions reject. This was the false teaching of Rome, not the sacraments per se. This leads to an ironic thing for Reformed and Baptist concerning the “sacraments” (Reformed) and “ordinances” (Baptist), that they end up with the same view of the sacraments/ordinances themselves (the sacraments/ordinances in and of themselves) as Rome does. In other words they don’t really do anything. For Rome all they do is provide the vehicle for the infused grace that in turn is the synergy for acting/believing, and for the Reformed they only provide signage pointing to the thing ‘you need to’ act/believe upon from the “infused grace” you received otherwise, and similarly for the Baptist the demonstration to God and others that “I do believe” from the “infused grace” you received otherwise. The entire enterprise of all is false under the idea of “infused grace” under whatever name or form it comes (that’s the synergy problem).

    What the sacraments are not to any of these groups is THE grace itself (as opposed to the infused grace and its similar other varieties under Reformed and Baptist theology), that is the real giving and issuing of the forgiveness of sin. What’s stunning to learn coming from a Baptist background myself in which I was taught the old, “Roman Catholics believe in works and that they are saved by baptism”, what was stunning for me to learn is that NO Roman Catholic actually believes that way. NONE of them find assurance in their baptism in particular nor the sacraments in general, that’s why they have the other works of penitence. Why? Because what they “get” from the sacraments is the INFUSED GRACE to act/believe, not THE GRACE of the actual and REAL forgiveness of sins, not energy to do or believe. That’s why pragmatically when you speak with general laymen suffering under the “am I saved/elect/converted/reborn” for real trial of the devil none of them, not the Reformed, not the Baptist and not the RC can nor do go to the sacraments/ordinances. Especially when one of the fieriest temptations from Satan’s darts comes at one in which one asks oneself, “I say I believe but how do I know for sure”, examination of their faith. None of them can be receive the Gospel when that happens, you will never hear them say, “You are baptized”, that is “you are forgiven whether you believe it or not”. Which is THE Gospel and it CAUSES the faith that is lacking or waxing low.

    The difference is between “infused grace” and “I forgive you – grace”.


    • In other words, the “infused” grace in Romish or Reformed or Arminian, becomes like tokens for a slot machine, or fuel for a furnace–it’s a pay to play approach, in which WE get closer to God.
      Any way you present it, that’s a totally different understanding than Lutherans have on grace being a state of forgiveness on account of Christ and his work coming to and FOR us.

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