Thesis Thursday

Last week I took a break (Read: forgot because I was too busy). Let’s hit the 11th lecture, again, continuing with:

Thesis VII

In the third place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is preached first and then the Law; sanctification first and then justification; faith first and then repentance; good works first and then grace.

Let me illustrate by a few specimens of sermon outlines how you may even by these betray your ignorance of the distinction between Law and Gospel. I shall select very crass examples, as Luther was wont to do; for such examples readily help us to understand the matter under discussion. I love to do as Luther did; for if there is any good that I have achieved, I have learned it from him.

Incorrect Sermon Outlines.

First Subject: The Way of Salvation. It consists of 1) faith; 2) true repentance. A perversion of this kind would constitute you genuine Antinomians and Herrnhuters.

Second Subject: Good Works. We shall see 1) wherein they consist; 2) that they must be performed in faith. In such an outline you would state what good works are, without having spoken of faith. A description of good works requires a statement that they are performed by believers. Otherwise you would have to formulate your judgment on good works from the Law. But that is wrong; for viewed in the light of the Law, any good work even of a Christian, no matter how good it may appear, is damnable in the sight of God.

Third Subject: Concerning Prayer. 1) True Prayer is based on the certainty of our being heard; 2) true prayer consists in faith. According to this outline the first part of your sermon would be entirely wrong.

Fourth Subject: Promises and Threatenings in the Word of God. 1) Promises; 2) threatenings. When I hear these parts of the sermon announced, I say to myself: First the preacher is going to comfort me; then he will proceed to throw rocks at me, causing me to forget everything that he said at the start. No; first you must come down on your hearers with the Law and then bind up their wounds with the divine promises. When a preacher concludes his sermons with threatenings, he has gone far towards making that sermon unproductive.

Fifth Subject: True Christianity. It consists, 1) in Christian living; 2) in true faith; 3) in a blessed death. This outline is simply horrible.

Sixth Subject: What must a person do to become assured of salvation? 1) He must amend his life and become a different man; 2) he must repent of his sins; 3) he must also apprehend Christ by faith. How is it possible to lead a better life when I have not yet reached that stage where I abhor sin and abominate a wicked life? The worst part is Part 3; for there is nothing that gives me greater assurance of being saved than faith.

This entry was posted in Christian life, Compare and Confess, Education, Gospel, Law/Gospel Distinction, Legalism, Liberty, Lutheranism, Protestant preaching, Protestant slogans, Quotes, Reformed Confessionalism, The Protestant Reformation, Thesis Thursday. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Thesis Thursday

  1. Echo_ohcE says:

    And yet many epistles begin with grace/gospel and end with law.

  2. RubeRad says:

    That’s true — most of them even. However, earlier in this same lecture he organizes Romans into Law, Gospel, and Sanctification. Maybe that’s somewhat synonymous with the Heidelbergian three-legged stool of Guilt, Grace, Gratitude.

  3. Echo_ohcE says:

    So it’s law in its first use in particular that must come before the gospel, but as long as it’s being used in its third use, it’s fine to have it after the gospel.

    I wonder why that’s not what he said…

  4. RubeRad says:

    He’s a Lutheran

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