Pastor Tullian Tchividjian

CORAL RIDGE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH by Bob & Marcia Webel

It warms my heart to see pastors in God’s churches getting people to NOT look inward, but to start to focus on the externals.

Pastor Tchividjian of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale  FL , has a terrific post on this subject at his blog:

 

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click here > Where-to-look-when-you’re-in-trouble

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 Interesting side notes;  Pastor Tchividjian is the grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham.

Coral Ridge Presbyterian is the church where the late Dr. D. James Kennedy served as pastor.

 

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Thanks to flickr and Bob and Marcia Webel, for the photo.

 

 

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35 Responses

  1. Very good, but as we find, this must necessarily be at odds with their professed doctrine otherwise.

    He states at the end:

    “It will surely produce real feelings and robust action, but this peace with God that Paul describes rests securely on the work of Christ FOR US, outside us. The truth is, that the more I look into my own heart for peace, the less I find. On the other hand, the more I look to Christ and his promises for peace, the more I find.”

    The key there being “FOR US”, the pro me. The only problem is in that doctrinal house, where is that? See, it has to connect FOR US otherwise this article is just jibberish. How does faith exist if there is no “FOR US”, you see. And if in the back of one’s doctrinal mind one knows that God elects some and damns others no “FOR US” in the Gospels actually arise to the occasion. Not John 3:16, not even Romans 5:1, let alone any sacrament.

    His article well admits this, “When you’re on the brink of despair–looking into the abyss of darkness, experiencing a dark-night of the soul–turning to the internal quality of your faith will bring you no hope, no rescue, no relief. Every internal answer will collapse underneath you. Turning to the external object of your faith, namely Christ and his finished work ON YOUR BEHALF, is the only place to find peace, re-orientation, and help.”

    But you see according to the confession of faith, in this case the WCF, this cannot be known in the throws of this very CRISIS the “dark-night of the soul” that even does not know if it believes! How do you know Christ is FOR YOU, in the doctrine of the Reformed? Because question rebounds, “How do I know I’m elect?” The Reformed answer is ALWAYS, “IF you believe (faith) these things, THEN you are elect.” Ooops. That overthrows the above quote, especially the, “…turning to the internal quality of your faith will bring you no hope, no rescue, no relief. Every internal answer will collapse underneath you.” For one cannot say that then say, “You will know you are elect IF you believe these things”. The very crux of the ‘dark night of the soul’.

    In such they HAVE to confess Luther, but equally they deny him otherwise and such articles become little more than sweet cheese on a mouse trap for the despairing soul, the despairing soul that is in fact suffering the ‘dark night of the soul’.

  2. I know he’s a Calvinist.

    He likes Forde a lot and quotes Luther a lot (not that many of them don’t do that, as well), and I think is (starting) to realize the dangers of looking inward.

    I went to his site and touted the benefits of the external Word (especially the Sacraments).

    One never knows. Maybe he’ll come to realize (by the grace of God) the mechanism that God Himself has put into place to bring us to faith, and to keep us there, apart from our own inward mucking around.

    I put up the link to his article because I have seen movement in this man away from all those tired old Calvinist benchmarks, towards (hopefully) a more Lutheran undestanding.

    Thanks, Larry.

  3. Steve and Larry,

    Its the right move in some segments of the Presbyterian Church though… being led by Tim Keller.

    A de-emphasizing of the 5 point calvinistic system and an emphasizing of Christ rescuing us in both our justification and our sanctification.

    Heaven forbid if we ever find sinners starting to go to Church again. :-).

  4. Also,

    If you listen to Keller and Tchividjian you wont hear much of the Piper languange in a sermon of the same topic.

    As a person that lives not far from several piper churches I find this piper language way too thick for my liking. Emphasis on the word thick.

  5. Hey all!!

    I like Keller and Tchividjian and I heard an interview with Tchividjian a year ago and I think he had the Calvinist rug pulled out from under him a bit but, he still is in the throws of this… Even though I appreciate them, I feel like at any moment because of their reformed leanings they will do a huge bait and switch on their listeners and pretty much become like those within the Piper et al. camp. Larry, coming out of reformed is that how you view it as well? I agree that it is great that there are these guys as well as Horton, Riddlebarger, etc. but, it seems that by teaching this they are not following Reformed teaching AT ALL. That is why I am always fearful listening to them because I am waiting for the proverbial rug to be ripped out from under me. I can hear Tchividjian for example and then go listen to a Lutheran pastor preaching the same word and I will leave thinking the Lutheran gave me hope that Jesus died for me. What do you guys think? Am I too paranoid?

  6. Robin,

    I don’t think you are paranoid. Sometimes people REALLY are after you!

    They obviously have a ways to go to dump their Calvinist baggage. But for me, it is encouraging that they are speaking of externals, rather than internals. We you go down that road, the Sacraments are there starring you right in the face.

    I, in no way would say they ‘have it’, just that they are moving the right way, and I’d like to encourage them however I can to keep going there. As many barnicles they can scrape away from the gospel the better for them and their people. And who knows, a few of them may become centerist Confessional Lutherans, along the way.

  7. I don’t find it in Keller — sermons or language. A few years back on a Pastoral search committiee we interviewed a guy now on his primary preaching staff. He had an article on the 5 point calvinistic model that was actually very Lutheresque in languange.

    I know Tchividian a lot less though. But I see him referenced a lot on Piper blogs. And they are from the same denomination.

    I listen to a lot of variety of pastors. Listening to Piper a lot is how I have learned a lot about what I don’t like about him. So I would not be paranoid or fearful. Just know your Luther base and hang on to it Robin!

  8. Excuse me. I meant Keller BLOGS above. Keller and Tchividian are from the same denomination. Not Tchividian and Piper.

  9. So… reading the previous responses with my ‘good ol’ Southern Baptist slant I’m almost convinced of what concerns the Lutherans. But seriously… is there no concern for any examination of the life in the Christian faith according to Lutherans. Are we not to make every effort to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control etc. and make our calling and election sure. Would Luther look at these verses and assume that that Peter was simply attempting to show us that we can’t pull these off as well. Are these exhortations to simply show us our inabilities just as the law does. I have to admit that I am completely and utterly drawn to Lutheran theology but at some point there has to be a response from the object that is saved. Right? Not a response for salvation but a result because of. Serious questions… no tone intended.

  10. Mitchell,

    Yes, there is a response. But it is not one that anyone is capable of measuring. And our responses are not where we have assurance of our salvation, since even our responses are not free of being tainted by sin (misplaced motivations).

    Us Lutheran types are satisfied to walk by faith, and not by sight since so much of what we see in the world and in ourselves cannot be trusted. We don’t even trust in the best that we do.

    St. Paul tells us that “the devil can come all dressed up as an angel of light.”

    So where Lutherans look for their assurance of salvation, it is not inward, but outward. Towards the external Word, and Sacraments. These come to us untainted and can be counted on absolutely, totally apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think.

    That is the great (and liberating) thing about Lutheran theology; we don’t have to feel saved to know that we ARE saved.

    And since we are inveterate ‘doers’, and constantly want to get our dog into the fight, we have to hear this message of the pure gospel (Christ dying for the ungodly), all the time, over and over and over…because the Old Adam/Eve in us just won’t believe it.

    Mitchell, you ask great questions. My answers my not be the best, but they are fairly close to the traditional, confessional Lutheran view . My pastor (Mark Anderson) would more than likely jump in to help us a bit, but he and his wife are in Europe for 3 weeks. I think he’s a great teacher and I have learned a few things from him (and others) over the 12 or so years that I have been a Lutheran.

    So much of this Lutheran theology is so radically different than what we grew up with that sometimes it takes a few runs at it before it starts to sink in. (at least it was(is) that way for me a lot of the time).

    G’nite, my friend.

    – Steve

  11. Robin really nails it. While on the one hand I’m like Steve and everyone else, i.e. GREATLY encouraged, on the other very suspicious.

    It’s easy for a Reformed person to read Luther (and Forde) with Reformed goggles and likewise for Lutherans to make the GREAT error of reading Calvin as if it speaks Lutheranish. I’ve done this myself. One has to realize something Luther once said that Christianity is a tapestry of which if you but alter a single thread you’ve ruined the whole. This was not hyperbole and the Reformed on this point make this very point. As good as ALL their “extra nos” efforts sound, that one thread (or two or three) on election and the sacraments at the end of the day RUINS the entire tapestry of the Gospel and the Christian faith. Jesus warning of “a little yeast” should never be taken lightly nor crassly. In fact Luther’s entire re-discovery of the Gospel during his tower experience was not that he fell into gross works righteousness, in fact he said he manage to avoid crass works righteousness, but the insidious nature of the more hidden and implied works righteousness.

    This brings up a point for Lutherans and others to consider: The ENTIRE Roman medieval loss of the Gospel then and to this very day was predicated not on a GROSS and obvious works righteousness, but rather a simple and very subtle insertion of such. To this very day there is little difference than “faith formed by love” and “proofing your salvation by works” (the heterodox protestant version of the same). Ironically, neither Baptist, nor Reformed, nor RCs trust in their baptism. There’s a reason for that and its all about the true Gospel.

    Let me clarify that suspicion. I don’t mean that I think they purposefully plot to overthrow the Gospel, but rather for some reason or another do not see the danger of their inconsistency. They don’t see how that actually drives men and women into despair and hell.

    Then it sneaks in to Lutheran circles this way, “see we are not that far apart”, when in fact we are as far apart on the Gospel as east is from west (infinitely).

    I too have great respect for the “cryptolutheran” reformed as many have come to name them. Yet, none of them can pull a man out of despair the way Luther and true Lutherans do according to the Gospel. Paul warns of ANY other gospel, that it is cursed.

    How do they pastor the despairing who wonders “am I elect”? And to the man, even some the Reformed on the WHI, the answer ALWAYS, ALWAYS boils down to something for you to do, “IF you believe, THEN you are elect”. Do you see the picture of God they are painting ultimately versus Luther and Paul?

    You will note this other gospel very subtly EVEN IN this very article. Note how they only speak of “pointing people to Christ” or “looking outwardly”. Did you note that? This consistent with their other gospel in the sacraments for example that are “signs pointing elsewhere”. Did you note that they did not absolve anyone but only pointed elsewhere? Note that well, for it is one thing to “point to Christ only” leaving a man still starving by trying to believe and arrive where they point, but they never actually GIVE Christ. Big difference.

    e.g. Jonathan Edwards once wrote at great length about the Gospel being like the taste of honey. And that there is a difference of “hearing about the taste of honey” and “actually TASTING honey”. His analysis is spot on. However, he, be a good Calvinist, never gets around to giving one a taste of honey but at great length, like this article, just talks about the taste of honey. It gets your mouth water, but, “where can I drink this water so I won’t thirst”? So, the Calvinist at length is nothing more than a man who sits in front of a child who is emaciated and starving to death before their very eyes and begins describing the delicious satisfying taste of food. In a since they just add misery to pain toward the dying eternally. Unlike Luther, and Lutheran confessions, they do not really GIVE you that honey to taste, GIVE you that food to taste and eat, they don’t DO the Gospel to you, they don’t say, “baptism saves you and you HAVE eternal life”, that it is actually the body and blood of Christ given FOR YOU for the forgiveness of sin ACTUALLY TO YOU FOR YOU, they don’t ABSOLVE you of your sin (i.e. THE Gospel). They don’t GIVE you Christ, they in fact WITHHOLD Him from you and thus taunt the starving dying man/woman despairing. For all their talk about pointing to Christ it is little more than describing food in front of that starving child and merely exacerbates his painfully empty belly growl all the more. Their doctrine at the end of the day only makes death, the devil, hell and the Law growl all the more. So close yet so far from Christ it is!

    It is not wrong to say “look to Christ”, Luther does this too but he follows up with actually GIVING Christ in Word and Sacrament. When Steve or I or other Lutherans have Christ’s very body and blood PUT INTO OUR STARVING MOUTHS every Sunday, we don’t have to look or reach for Him even with our weak faith, the living Son of God is PUT into our very mouths FOR US FOR the forgiveness of sin. Not so in the Reformed church. They talk about the taste of this food, looking to Christ, but they never FEED people Christ.

    Our pastor pointed this out just this Sunday. Do you ever notice that Christ reveals Himself to people in meals, particularly the Lord’s Supper. That on the way to Emmaus He does this right at the breaking of bread and then suddenly disappears (how confounding that scene is!). Yet He is training us to find Him in His sacrament in the transition from His earthly ministry to now.

    Note the difference in this: Reformed: “Look to forgiveness in Christ alone for this forgiveness is a treasure above all”. Sounds good. But there it ends. Then note this, “In the stead of Christ and by His command I forgive you all your sins, God forgives all your sins”. See the difference?

    Or this: “How do you know you are elect, IF you believe these things, THEN you are elect” (Reformed answer to the man, in the WHI Reformed – in fact it’s a direct quote). Versus: “You are forgiven for the sake of Christ EVEN IF you don’t get better, whether you believe it or not”. (Lutheran WHI). See the different God painted here.

    One cannot possibly believe, nude trust alone, in God if God does not first forgive them and give them His righteousness to the man (pro me) FIRST. That is the Gospel and resurrecting Word! Without this, this is the very bondage of the will and the TRUE total depravity (not the Reformed version per Dort). And ironically this reveals the hidden synergism in Calvinism! The Hidden works righteousness which is merely reaching back to the RC churches doctrine on the issue via the German Mystics on Predestination and even Augustine to some degree.

    • I love what you’re saying Larry! I really do. However, in light of what you have just stated what separates the saved Lutheran vs. unsaved Lutheran. I ask this because if one tweak in the theology completely unhinges the Gospel then it appears that one is saved by a correct theology. If all are forgiven by Christ’s work then why does anyone suffer eternal damnation? Trust me… Steve, Pastor Mark and yourself bring up some intriguing questions. Thanks bro.

      • Forgive me for butting in.

        Only God knows who the saved are. “The wheat and tares grow together.”

        We are NOT sdaved by correct doctrine, although it is important. We are saved by Christ Jesus.

        We can have assurance of our salvation from the external Word and Sacraments. In these things, God promises are sure.

        can someone walk away from, abandon these promises? Sure! it happens everyday. And by God’s grace we are lead to repentance and Christ brings us home once again.

        This is the life of the Christian. repentance and forgiveness. Death and resurrection. Over and over and over again.

      • Hey Steve,
        You’re welcome at my fire any time man. I completely agree with you that only God knows who are among His own. I guess your comment about the Sacraments brings up the question: “Is there going to be individuals who take the Sacraments and not be numbered among the elect?” I mean someone who firmly trusts in the work of Christ but outwardly lives like there is no God… or am I creating a straw man?

  12. Mitchell,

    Good quesitons! Yes there is a response but the response is like the response of Lazarus from the tomb, “Lazarus come forth”. Note above what I wrote about forgiveness first. “God forgives you whether you believe it or not” IS the Gospel and then it makes belief. And this is a constant tension. I.e. we fall away because WE don’t incline to this, NOT that God does not forgive us.

    The return to forgiveness in the Word and Sacrament for forgiveness, this was an eye opener to me coming into the Lutheran church from baptist/reformed background, is NOT because God has not already. That is done period sans faith even and God does not change. But so that I, Steve, you, will believe it. We incline to NOT believe this nearly as fast as we “just heard it”.

    I hope that helps, very good questions!

    • Hey Larry,
      I would also like to get your response to my question above about the Sacraments and trust in Christ. Thanks.

  13. MItchell, you are possibly asking a question that to be honest, points to both the strength and weakness in todays Lutheran Church. Emphasis on TODAYs Lutheran Church!!!!

    On one hand, Lutherans point to the Gospels and Cross as the method of interpreting scripture. As a result, we do, rightfully so, have worries about self-works based righteoussness. Sometimes, we Lutheran types in my opinion tend to have a fear of discussing works too. We should not and that would be a weakness of Lutheran thought. Thats my thought and I am sure opinions will vary on that.

    However, in a world that wants to point us to a a colorful collage of behavioral fixes to be right with God…. I see traditional Lutheran thought about to be spot on and I don’t want to leave that behind.

    To put the focus on Christs rescue, in both our justification and our sanctification is indeed a rare thing in todays world.

  14. Works talk is, CAN be dangerous talk, because of that Old Adam who hangs around our neck like a bag of dead skunks.

    The person in Christ will be inspired by the Holy Spirit to do, whatever. No goading of the law will be necessary. And when the law is used to bring about works, all it brings forth is filthy rags.

    A pastor worth is salt will know the difference between Christian encouragement, and goading with the law.

    Christian encouragement is reminding people that they are noww free because of Christ and not to fear going out there in the world and failing. Our neighbors need us, God doesn’t.

  15. I’m always encouraged reading here, including the posts and discussions. The following jumped out at me from the discussion thread, “we don’t have to feel saved to know that we ARE saved.” I’m not much into ‘isms although I do agree with some more than others, but that sentence is the core of what every Christian should know, is it not? It’s not about how we feel but about what Christ has done! It is finished! There’s not a thing we can add! God even adds the finishing touches while sanctifying us, but we do cooperate and obey in the process, do we not? Blessings!

  16. Petra,

    Great comment!

    You have it exactly right!!!

    Thanks, my friend.

  17. Steve,
    Your church is extremely blessed to have Pastor Mark. I’m listening now to his sermon “What the Law Intends.”
    I’m stunned… absolutely stunned by this message.

    • Thanks, Mitchell.

      We are blessed. But he’s not a lone ranger. There are others out there with a strong, Christ centered message.

      But they are few and far between.

      Enjoy those audio sermons and classes, my friend.

      So glad to be able to share them with folks such as yourself. I remember how stunned I was when I first heard them.

      It wasn’t so much hearing a law/gospel message, but rather it was (is) having the law and gospel DONE TO ME.

  18. If we believe what the Bible says about” all our righteous deeds being filthy rags”… then WHY IN THE WORLD do we want to focus on that?

    Focus on Christ and let the chips fall where they may. If you do a “good work” because you are a follower of Christ, are you going to feel good about it? Or should it just come naturally without even realizing it?
    I do believe Jesus mentions something along those lines when he separates the sheep from the goats (who were DOING all sorts of things in Jesus name, but got a nasty little suprise at the Day of judgement)

    • Yeah I have to admit I’ve noticed that one myself. Those who did anything “to the least of these” were completely unaware that they had done anything unto Christ.

  19. That is what I have been really pondering in the past few weeks. If I obsess over my good works and I go out searching to “DO” things in order to relieve my conscious is that a work of Christ in faith? I have a hard time thinking so. So, it seems to me that the Gospel comes in and begins to do its work on you. For me it seems that it is having to crush ALL of my self-righteous, works oriented mentality. It seems that most days I am reminded over and over just because you were nice to someone next door or you brought them a meal, or even if you share the Gospel, if you walk away thinking oh good now I can feel better about my election then you need to go back to the Gospel. There are many non-Christians that are nicer than me, more giving, etc. I can’t possibly look to the externals to see if I am in Christ. My goodness you would freak out every time you met someone who was doing something that you considered to be noble, moral, etc. I am not saying not to do these things but please please please don’t start with these things when giving away the Gospel. I promise that when you are finally confronted with your sin and then told that you are forgiven for Christ’s sake it will not leave you unchanged. Sadly, many evangelicals don’t believe it. Also, I have to say as Americans we are probably very likely to fall into this religious trap due to the fact that many of our church bodies have come from or have been heavily influenced from Revivalism. I personally grew up hearing that I had to pray a sinners prayer or ask Jesus to come into my heart. Now, that shows up NO WHERE in bible and I have prayed that prayer many times hoping it would immediately ease my doubts. It never ever did. If it didn’t work as one woman told me, pray it again until it finally sticks (whatever that means.) These same people would scoff at using rote prayers in a Lutheran or confessional church but tell me the sinners prayer isn’t a rote prayer made up by someone 100 years ago? As opposed to these prayers in confessional churches which primarily come from the Psalms or a biblical text.

    • Excellent comments, Robin.

      You should be teaching Luther’s Small Catechism. Maybe one day you will!

      As for those that complain about “rote prayers”…they don’t seem to have a problem with hymns that other people have written, and that they sing over and over again.

      “There are many non-Christians that are nicer than me, more giving, etc. I can’t possibly look to the externals to see if I am in Christ.”

      I couldn’t agree more.

      Thanks, Robin.

  20. Also, I have had multiple “religious experiences” but this past year I actually heard the Gospel starting with Dr. Rosenbladt and through people like Pastor Mark thanks to Steve who sent me CD’s and emails from Larry just to name a few. I have had more dialogue with Lutherans on the Gospel and when I say dialogue I seriously mean people eager to share Christ’s forgiveness to me via email. Don’t tell me that Lutheran’s are weak on Sanctification. These people eagerly wanted me to hear this amazing news that is the end of all of mans religion. When I begin to doubt, I have talked with some of these people and no one condemns me or says you aren’t saved. They just tell the old old story again and again and again. I recently went to a Lutheran service for the first time in my life and as I sat in the back I wept as I read the liturgy because I was told that I deserved hell but God came on to the scene and totally rescues us. I felt at peace in church for the first time.

  21. Mitch,

    A couple things to answer your question, and having been a baptist myself I understand them (if I’m not misreading what you are saying/asking). By the way I think your questions are great and I know you are asking them very honestly, I had the same. I hope I can answer them well and nothing is meant to be offensive or sound that way. I truly hope this helps or at least points you further.

    1. Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of Christ, not vice versa. No man, thus, CAN believe (nude trust) in Christ alone unless he/she really and truly hears and receives, pro me (for me/you), “I God forgiven you all your sin”. This is in every doctrine, absolution, baptism, Lord’s Supper.
    2. The entire question who is / is not saved (Lutheran or otherwise) is a question of fallen human reason not of faith. Faith doesn’t try to “discern this” and scripture explicitly forbids it.
    3. Saved. What does that mean? To put it bluntly all men are saved, atoned for without exception. Hell at the end of the day is the rejection of that. In fact Luther points out that the very “gnashing of teeth” is this very thing that one rejected Christ for them in reality.
    4. We are not saved by our “correct theology” but ONLY THE correct doctrine is true and saves. Does that make since? I.e. one can err, and we all do, but that does not at all extend to the false concept that the correct doctrine is not held by an orthodox confess expressing it. E.g. the doctrine of believers baptism is in fact false, it errs on what baptism IS. Yet, I was truly baptized as such and it IS baptism. Put another way, there are true believers in heterodoxy and hypocrites in orthodoxy. But what does that mean? Believer are to seek out the true confession, this is more often than not a long process of reading/learning (myself as an example), we are never enjoined by Scripture to be in mixed (heterodox/false churches). Why? Because the soul is in danger because of what it hears. Keep in mind NO MAN inclines toward the Gospel, the pure grace of God, even debates such as you find on Steve’s site actually exhibit this very fact (the very fact “we” debate it and not remained settled on it begets the fact that the OLD ADAM does not accept the 200 proof Gospel, if he did there be no debate/argument whatsoever. Another way of saying it is that the Gospel is in and of itself 100% polemical to the old man/adam.)
    What do the true believers in orthodoxy and heterodoxy have in common? The NUDE trust in the ACTUAL forgiveness of sin and giving of Christ’s righteousness pro me (for me). What do hypocrites and false believers in both orthodoxy have in common? The opposite, they do not really have nude trust in Christ alone but have secret works righteousness, so secret they call it faith and grace even to themselves believing it so. In a sense faith that is nude in Christ alone, is scary as hell because the old Adam is scared TO DEATH and does not really “just trust” God nakedly and thinks he needs something to make it in. He has a “quid pro quo” god he calls the God of scripture. In most cases true idolatry is not the worship of other gods, it is that too, but the wrong worship of THE God (they honor ME with the lips, but their hearts are far from Me)!
    If you really want to “feel” the stumbling block of the Gospel try out this Gospel statement, “You are saved and forgiven all your sin for ever, even if you don’t get better, get worse and whether or not you believe it or not”.
    But what is faith but that which arises upon this Gospel to believe it finally, that Gospel statement is for the sick and true sinners, for those who don’t think themselves truly sick and truly REAL sinners won’t seek it. In fact it is a stumbling block to them and reveals their hidden works righteousness. For they will surely ask in some form or another, “What shall we sin that Grace may abound?” The query of the Pharisee and hidden works righteousness, the Old Adam, that reveals they really think God is quid pro quo.
    This is NOT universalism for many will reject it on the very basis that the Old Adam HATES it with every fiber of his being, both the overt sinner and the false saint, especially the later. As Luther said, that some reject it proves its reality and that some believe it proves its power (a paradox indeed, but paradox in time and space IS the atmosphere of faith alone).

    This brings us back to why seek out the orthodox confessions? For one we are commanded, entreated and exhorted EVERYWHERE in scripture to do so. Not because we are saved based on our doctrinal test scores (that very question/assertion is like Forde says a SIGN or GASPING breath of the old adam), rather that this is eternal food that saves and is not sprinkled with poison that kills. The soul is danger in heterodoxy. That many will be saved in spite of being in heterodoxy does not mitigate the eternal danger of heterodoxy! Because ALL false doctrine leads men and women away from Christ even saying, “here is Christ there is Christ”, by either making them pharisiacally think they are (secretly) pulling it off, or despairing of hope (like Judas).
    Then there is the practical aspect of your question of “what separates the saved Lutheran versus the unsaved Lutheran”, or Baptist, or Reformed, or Roman Catholic, or Greek Orthodox, or Methodist, etc… Let’s be honest and real about this one. NO work nor man’s life of works can we look at and point to and say, “See SURELY he was Christian and truly saved”. Right? Did you know his/her heart in spite of the outward shine of his/her works? And this in fact is pointing to works and not Christ is it not? God does not save man with an “eye toward good works” as John Piper once said. God saves that which is in fact unlovable, this is the love of God. To judge good works in order to assess man is really neoplatonism and Aristotle. As Luther points out works do not make the one doing them (=Greek Philosophy), but rather from whom the works come do this (=Christianity). Thus, Luther says that God lifting a mere piece of straw is the greatest work of all and better than all of the BEST good works that ALL the monks, Christians, and good people do rolled into one. Why? From WHOM IT COMES, the works do not make the man! To place “good” in they view of works is to place the value in the works and not the One doing them, God! This is original sin, this is NO LESS than men lusting after the creature rather than the Creator. I.e. the drunk that lusts after drink is no less a manifestation of the old adam than is the very pious church person working to prove he/she is saved.
    We are not saved by “our” correct theology. E.g. Jesus alone is the way, is correct theology, but we are not saved by the correctness of that answer, right! BUT, THAT correct theology is the ONLY salvation, right! See the difference?

    The elect question. First of all it is of highest importance to understand Calvin’s false philosophical teaching on this. Reason, fallen, wishes to assess “who is elect and who is not” and concludes the doctrine of either ‘double predestination’ or its sister ‘limited atonement’. This is MOST CRITITCAL TO so, for at length you will find ALL your question (as do all of us struggle) are based on fallen reason attempting to usurp the revelation of God in the Word which FAITH ALONE apprehends. Ask yourself what is truly Scripture ALONE and faith ALONE? Reason wishes to usurp and interpret the Word and say, “No Christ did not mean this IS My body/blood in spite of the fact that’s what He actually said”. And so it wishes to get behind the Word, so that it operates without the Word even though it uses some of the Word to do so. i.e. original sin was when Satan, using his words mingled with the Word and said, “hath God really said”, and thus disconnected Eve’s (and Adam) nude faith (faith alone) in the nude Word (Sola Scriptura) so that now all they had was their fallen reason turned inward. You see usurpation to see the secrets of God not revealed in the Word? All articles of faith in time and space are such that they are Word alone, faith naked alone, against reason. Reason should be subdued to Christ and then it is a proper servant for it is infinitely REASONABLE if God said “eat mud and you’ll be saved” to do so, because of WHO SAID IT Who CAN do it and WILLS to do so. This is to trust the Word alone sans what feelings, reason and senses see, this faith alone apprehends.

    Look every single article of faith and not one single one of them can be arrived at via reason, not one single one of them can be apprehended by reason, and in fact EVERY single one of the ON PURPOSE offends reason, feelings and sense in order to crucify them so that faith may abound on the NUDE Word (Scripture ALONE) and thus NUDE faith (Sola Fide). The trinity, reason is offended by this and thus Mohamed turned away from Christianity. Justification by faith alone, reason is offended by this and thus the Pope denies the Word. This IS My body/blood, offends reason and by this Zwingli and Calvin denied the faith (no less than the Pope mind you).
    The two natures of Christ, offend reason, we receive them by faith alone on the word alone. The incarnation, offend reason, we receive it by faith alone on the word alone. Baptism, offends reason, we receive it by faith alone on the word alone. Creation ex nihilo, offend reason, we receive it by faith alone on the word alone. That the body and blood are in, with and under the bread and wine, offends reason, we receive them by faith alone on the word alone. Absolution, a form of justification by faith alone (recall the Pope’s denial due to reason), offends reason, we receive it by faith alone on the word alone.

    Every SINGLE ARTICLE OF FAITH WITHOUT EXCEPTION, offends reason, yet we receive them by faith alone on/in the WORD alone. See what Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide REALLY means!

    Do this exercise, read the Apostles or Nicene Creed. ALL articles of faith that speak to the Trinity, God the Father, what He is/does, God the Son (same), the Holy Spirit (same), the holy Christian (universal/catholic – little “c”), baptism, the Lord’s Supper (I believe in the communion of the saints), forgiveness of sins, the resurrection OF THE BODY, and life eternal…ALL articles of faith.

    But note this about the Confessions, I JUST saw this the other day going through the catechism: Why do we say in the creeds (confessions of faith) “I believe”? Because they are ALL articles of faith on the Word alone (sola Scriptura/fide) and thus only believed, received and apprehended by nude faith in the nude Word and all offend reason, feelings, and senses. None of them are taken by reason, feelings or senses or even experience but WORDED ALONE. What makes baptism a baptism, the Word, not faith, it is WORDED and NAMED water. In the confessions we do not say, “I’ve figured out in God the Father almighty Creator of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible”. No we say, “I believe” based on the Word. We do not say “I reason, I feel, I experience in “Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God, begotten before all worlds, God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father through Whom all things were made, Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man…”. No we say, “I believe” based on the Word. We do not say, “I reason that this is the very flesh and blood of Christ of the bread and wine”. No we say, “I believe” based on the Word, the Word’s Christ spoke. We do not say, “I see and experience and thus reason that baptism saves”. No we say, “I believe” based on the Word that the Holy Spirit said via Peter that “this baptism saves you”, “for the promise is to you and your children…etc”. We do not even say, “I see, experience, estimate, sense and thus come to a reasonable conclusion that I can pick out the true church in purity (of whose in or not, NOT doctrine) here on earth. No we say, “I believe” based on the Word, “I believe in the holy Christian and apostolic church”, even when it looks to the contrary.

    Election is in Christ alone. I.e. Christ is the ONLY Elect and where He is there I will be also, where His name is (baptism which includes Emmanuel = God IS with us for real, faith not reason), where His real and true body and blood are (LS), in the Worded Gospel of absolution, in the pronounds and nouns of Scripture such as John 3:16 (world = me, you, etc…), “given unto YOU”, etc..

    So be very aware of how Calvin’s foolish and fallen reason usurped the Word of God and removes you or anyone from baptism, the LS and the Word of God.

    Election is Scriptural, double predestination is from Satan, as is limited atonement. In fact if you carefully read the Psalms you will find the devil, world and flesh tempt the Psalmist constantly to seek out, basically, what we’ve come to know in our late day and age as Calvin’s doctrine on election.

    I hope that helps more, I realize it’s a lot.

    Let me recommend a book to you. It will be very helpful and eye opening to you I think: The Foolishness of God: The Place of Reason in the Theology of Martin Luther.

    Can be found here and depending on your budget new or used: http://www.amazon.com/Foolishness-God-Reason-Theology-Martin/dp/0810001551

    Yours truly,

    Larry

  22. Robin, great to hear your story – it’s all about being brought back to Christ, back to God’s saving work through Him alone, and back to the wonder of being made free to live by the wondrous work of God in Christ for us and to us. It’s as God reminds us, conveys to us, through Word and Sacrament, that we are truly kept and held there by His love, that we can truly know that the day approaches when, through that gracious redemption, all things in heaven and earth will be renewed.

    Sola Deo Gloria!
    Howard.

  23. http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2011/04/13/rethinking-progress/

    I am liking this guy more and more!

  24. Thanks, Jon. I’ll check it out soon.

  25. Sounds like a good one, Howard.

    I’ll pop in over there and have a look see.

    Thanks!

  26. Glad you popped by at Mockingbird, Steve – great discussion. Thanks for making a contribution!

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