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Monday, December 9, 2013

Synodical Conference–1872, Part 5

This continues the series of blog posts (Table of Contents is in Part 1) publishing my translation of the published essay from the inaugural meeting of the Synodical Conference in 1872.  This covers pages 36-39 from the original German essay.
If I were a Lutheran pastor, I think I would take a whole year to preach on the points made in this essay...
Part 5
===============  Synodical Conference–1872  ===============
"Over the Doctrine of Justification."
by C.F.W. Walther
(cont'd from Part 4)
Of course, [SCR 36] as was said before, no man can enter heaven if he is not converted and has a new heart but he is saved not for the sake of conversion or this new heart, but he must first appear as a poor sinner before God, who has nothing at all that could please God, and who would be worthy of being put into the abyss of hell--but then appealing to the mercy of God and comfort himself with the fully accomplished redemption of Jesus Christ and grasp His entire merit, so he becomes righteous.  [KM paragraph]
It must be stressed with all seriousness that God's wrath has been turned away from all men by Christ's doing and suffering, and that through the Gospel everyone is invited: Now receive the grace! If a preacher had to step before an audience with the thought: on them the wrath of God still rests, and they must be prevailed upon to reconcile Him--it would be frightful. But because he knows that the redemption has already happened for all, God's wrath against all has been extinguished, therefore he can confidently say: “Be ye reconciled to God," just accept His hand of grace. The Formula of Concord therefore also indicates that even Pharaoh was condemned not because he had been rejected by God according to an unconditional decision, but because he persisted in his hardening against the gracious efforts of God.  If no change had occurred in God's relation to men through Christ's suffering and death, what would be the meaning then of the word reconciliation?  We would have to strike it out of the Bible, if God, after the work of reconciliation has happened, still held the same wrath against the human race, as if it had not been accomplished. As certainly as the Bible says: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," so certain it is that there must be no more wrath in His heart, in so far as He conceives of the world in Christ. But that God looks at the world in this way is not empty fantasy, for Christ has indeed taken the cause of the world upon Himself, and therewith also its punishment and the wrath of God, has done everything which a Substitute must do, and has paid everything unto the last farthing. How would it now be possible that God should after all that be newly able to look upon men with wrath and hatred?  Thus one can think of the world as the totality of those for whom Christ has made satisfaction, and so viewed, there is only love, only favor, only grace upon it. But now God also looks about in the world, to see how people behave towards this redemption of Christ, and there He sees many who do not wish to be redeemed, they do not want to accept this reconciliation. They would, in most recent times, rather be descendants of monkeys, would rather belong to the cattle. Now however, against these there is in God's heart a wrath burning down to the very lowest hell. And there is no contradiction here. But it is contradictory to say that God is reconciled first through our faith. God is no longer the Enemy who is to be reconciled--but man is the one. But as soon as he starts to believe, he takes the hand of God, and that again he [SCR 37] does through pure divine grace, for without that he would nevermore come to faith.
This two-sided consideration must also be practiced in other regards too. We say, for example, of Christ on the Cross: He hangs there as a sinner and at the same time as a righteous One. Is He now a sinner or not? [KM 15] For [LS XXX/23, 178-3] His Person not, for He has committed no sin, and in so far He is a righteous One. But for the world, whose Substitute He is, He is a sinner, yes, as Scripture says, "Sin," so that He must be the greatest sinner of all, who has ever been on earth, because to Him are imputed the sins of all sinners. So Christ is, regarded according to His Person, the Righteous One, and according to His Mediator's office He is the sinner. So it is also with the believers. When one regards them according to their persons, they are sinners, "for we daily sin much and deserve nothing put punishment."  But because they are at the same time through faith in Christ Jesus, so that the righteousness which Christ has acquired for them and given them, reigns and rules with them, they are received as children of God into the Kingdom of heaven. But so it is also, in a certain respect, with the world: In itself it lies in evil, under the curse and in condemnation; but as redeemed through Christ, because He has made satisfaction for it, God is reconciled with it.  In this respect, it is true that there exists no sin in the world. Christ after all has taken it away and carried it all the way into the grave; in so far also the whole world is free, rid, and relieved of death, devil, and damnation.  And this should be not hidden, but be preached. The fear that people might become secure thereby dare not hold us back. It may well be that one thinks, when he hears such preaching: If all sin is already wiped out, then I am in no need, then I am saved even without faith--and misuses the word of grace to his destruction. However, the question is not now only how this doctrine can be misused, but about what has happened for our salvation. Now we are to proclaim the whole counsel of God, therefore also we may not keep quiet about this doctrine from fear that it might be misused. It is just this fear which inhibits the enthusiasts, so that they do not proclaim the redemption of Christ without all restriction. They always think they might make people carnally secure if they freely proclaim the grace of God to everyone.— [KM paragraph; LS paragraph]
The Formula of Concord speaks thus of this whole matter:
Concerning the righteousness of faith before God we believe, teach, and confess unanimously,... that poor sinful man is justified before God, that is, absolved and declared free and exempt from all his sins, and from the sentence of well-deserved condemnation, and adopted into sonship and heirship of eternal life, without any merit or worth of our own, also without any preceding, present, or any subsequent works, out of pure grace, because of the sole merit, complete obedience, bitter suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Christ alone, whose obedience is reckoned to us for righteousness.  These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost  [SCR 38] in the promise of the Gospel; ; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves.  This faith is a gift of God, by which we truly learn to know Christ, our Redeemer, in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him, that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by God the father, and are eternally saved.  Therefore it is considered and understood to be the same thing when Paul says that we are justified by faith, Rom. 3:28, or that faith is counted to us for righteousness, Rom. 4:5, and when he says that we are made righteous by the obedience of One, Rom. 5:19, or that by the righteousness of One justification of faith came to all men, Rom. 5:18.  For faith justifies, not for this cause and reason that it is so good a work and so fair a virtue, but because it lays hold of and accepts the merit of Christ in the promise of the holy Gospel; for this must be applied and appropriated to us by faith, if we are to be justified thereby.  Therefore the righteousness which is imputed to faith or to the believer out of pure grace is the obedience, suffering, and resurrection of Christ, since He has made satisfaction for us to the Law, and paid for [expiated] our sins.  For since Christ is not man alone, but God and man in one undivided person, He was as little subject to the Law, because He is the Lord of the Law, as He had to suffer and die as far as His person is concerned. For this reason, then, His obedience, not only in suffering and dying, but also in this, that He in our stead was voluntarily made under the Law, and fulfilled it by this obedience, is imputed to us for righteousness, so that, on account of this complete obedience, which He rendered His heavenly Father for us, by doing and suffering, in living and dying, God forgives our sins, regards us as godly and righteous, and eternally saves us.  This righteousness is offered us by the Holy Ghost through the Gospel and in the Sacraments, and is applied, appropriated, and received through faith, whence believers have reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins, the grace of God, sonship, and heirship of eternal life. (Formula of Concord, Solid Declarations III, 9-16, Triglotta pgs 919-921, Tappert, pp. 540-541)
But, since it is the obedience as above mentioned [not only of one nature, but] of the entire person, it is a complete satisfaction and expiation for the human race, by which the eternal, immutable righteousness of God, revealed in the Law, has been satisfied, and is thus our righteousness, which avails before God and is revealed in the Gospel, and upon which faith relies before God, which God imputes to faith, as it is written, Rom. 5:19: For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous; and 1 John 1:7: The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, [SCR 39] cleanseth us from all sin. Likewise: The just shall live by his faith, Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17;  Gal. 2 (Formula of Concord, Solid [Thorough] Declarations III, 57; Triglotta, pg. 935; Tappert, pp. 549-550).
Is not Christ's doctrine called Gospel, in German: a glad tidings? But why is it called so? Because when I preach the Gospel I preach nothing else than what has already been acquired for men and given to them, and which they therefore accept, and that they should be glad of heart. The Gospel is the glad tidings that Christ had the work done which we should have done, yet could not do, and that the heavenly Father has, through the resurrection of our Reconciler given a sign from heaven, that He is as a result completely satisfied. Those who are now wondering that God always has it said to the people: Come, do be glad, because your guilt is erased and fully paid, why are you still fretting? — he who takes offence at this, takes offence at Christ and at His Gospel. And he who thinks that he is preaching too much consolation to the people thereby, and is making them too sure, reveals thereby that he has not yet tasted of this manna himself. Whoever has himself experienced [KM 17] the consolation of the Gospel, will have to say: that's it, that I have come as the prodigal son, torn and full of pain and sickness, that I said to my God: here I am, deal now with me according to Your grace. Then He accepted me, kissed me with the kiss of His mouth, and dressed me in the garments of salvation, gave me a ring for my hand, and brought together neighbors and friends and arranged a feast of joy. Whoever does not want to preach the Gospel like this, might as well preach the Koran or the Talmud or the Pope's law, or whatever else he wants to preach; but if he wants to make joyful Christians, then let him preach these glad tidings.  There are in any case enough of specific things which have to be preached. First the preparatory work must be done with the Law, and this must be preached in such a way that the hearers tremble and quake, so that they think: Hey, he throws us all into hell!  There is no counsel, no rescue, we are lost! But  then, however, one shows from the Gospel the very opposite. He who preaches thus places the people on solid ground, so that they do not want to go back to the Law. [KM paragraph]
The enthusiasts conceive of redemption thus: Through this, that Christ became man, lived, and suffered, he made it possible [LS XXX/23, 179-1] for men now themselves to accomplish, do and live whatever and however (it) is necessary for their salvation. If they then also talk much about faith, this still sticks in them, and even faith itself turns into a meritorious human work with them. This is also the true doctrine of the Pope, because if the Romanists also say that Christ died for the sins of the world, so they do not believe that through Christ's death guilt and punishment are done away with, but teach that man must provide salvation for himself through his remorse, penance, and other good works, although to be sure only Christ makes this meritorious and God helps along. Thus the enthusiasts mix the work of man into [SCR 40] this matter of justification;
= = = = = = continued in Part 6 = = = = = = = = =
In the next Part 6, ...

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