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Thursday, April 10, 2014

LDJ–Part 16 (pages 45-47)—Keys, King & Castle; Unbelief

This continues from the previous Part 15 presenting a new translation of C.F.W. Walther's seminal essay in 1859 (see Part 1 for Table of Contents).  In this Part 16, Walther finishes his quote from Melanchthon and starts a long series of quotes from Luther on the Keys, forgiveness of sins, etc....  Some of these should be familiar to anyone who has received any Lutheran training.
Underlining follows Walther's emphasis in original.
Hypertext links have been copiously added for reference to original sources and on several subjects.
Highlighting is mine.
= = = = = = = = = = = =  Part 16: Pages 45-47 (1880)  = = = = = = = = = = = =
(cont'd from Part 15)
The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.
[by C.F.W. Walther]
[1880-45]  ... it is evident that men have the commission to forgive sins.  And these very same people confess that they forgive sins in general when they publicly proclaim the Gospel.  Or when they deny that they then proclaim the forgiveness of sins, so they neither understand what the Gospel is nor what the forgiveness of sins is.(Corpus Ref., vol. XII, p. 492, paragrs. 5-13)
Luther writes in his book on the keys: “Subsequently [W1859-36] consider that the keys or forgiveness of sins does not rest on our repentance or worthiness, as they teach and operate; for that is entirely Pelagian, Turkish, heathen, Jewish, Anabaptist. enthusiastic, and anti-Christian; but again, on the contrary, that our repentance, work, heart, and what we are, should build on the keys and with full consideration confidently depend thereon, as on God’s Word, and at the risk of losing both body and soul on no account doubt that what the keys say and give is just as certain as if God Himself speaks, as indeed He himself certainly speaks; for it is His command and Word and not man’s word or command.  But if you doubt, you call God a liar, pervert His order, and base His keys on your repentance and worthiness.  You should repent (it is true), but that thereby the forgiveness of sins is to be made certain and the work of the key confirmed, that means abandoning faith and denying Christ. He wants to forgive your sin, not for your sake but for His own sake, out of pure grace through the key, and bestow….  Christ says: Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, etc.  Notice here that He assuredly, indeed assuredly promised that what we bind and loose on earth shall be bound and loosed, here is no faulty key. He does not say: What I bind and loose in heaven, this you shall also bind and loose on earth, as the teachers of the faulty key foolishly mock.  How could we find out what God  [1880-46] binds and looses in heaven?  Never, and the keys would be vain and profit nothing.  Nor does he say: You ought to know what I bind and loose in heaven;  [Essays1-46]  who would or could know that? Rather he says this: As you bind and loose on earth, so will I bind and loose in heaven; when you do the work of the keys, I will also do it.  Yes, when you do it, so shall it be, and it is not necessary that I do it after you.  What you bind and loose (I say), I will neither bind nor loose but it shall be bound and loosed without my binding or loosing.  There shall be one work, mine and yours, not two; one set of keys, mine and yours, not two.  When you do your work, mine is already done; when you bind and loose, I have already bound and loosed.  He obliges and binds himself to our work, yes he commands us to do his very own work; why then, should we make it uncertain or reverse it and pretend that he must first bind and loose in heaven?  Just as if His binding and loosing in heaven were different from our binding and loosing on earth,  or as if he had different keys up there in heaven from these on earth, whereas he distinctly and clearly says they are heaven’s keys and not the keys of earth. …  But such ideas about two kinds of keys come about because people do not hold God’s Word as God’s Word, but because it is spoken through men, it is regarded just the word of men, and think, God is way up high overhead in heaven and far, far, far from such Word that is on earth, and stare heavenward and invent still other keys. …  Do not let yourself be led astray here by the pharisaic babbling by which some deceive themselves by mocking,  how a man can forgive sins even though he can bestow neither grace nor the Holy Spirit. You just keep to the words of Christ and be assured [W1859-37] that God does not forgive sins in any other way [1880-47] than through the spoken Word, as he has commanded us men.  If you do not look for forgiveness in the Word, you will vainly gape at heaven for grace, or, as they say, for inner forgiveness.  But if you speak like the factious spirits and sophists also do: After all, many hear about the binding and loosing of the keys, but they disregard it and remain unbound and without being loosed, therefore there must be something else beside the Word and the keys: the Spirit, the Spirit, the Spirit must do it.   Do you however think that he is not bound, who does not believe the binding key?  In due time he shall learn that because of his unbelief the binding has neither been in vain nor has failed.  Likewise also one who does not believe that he is free and his sins forgiven will in time also truly find how very surely his sins were now forgiven him, but he refused to believe it. St. Paul says in Rom. 3:3 that God will not fail because of our unbelief.  So we are not discussing now who believes and who doesn’t; for we know very well that few believe—but we are talking about what the keys do and give.  One who refuses to accept it, of course, has nothing.  That does not cause the key to fail. Many do not believe the Gospel, but that does not cause the Gospel to fail and lie.  A king gives you a castle; if you do not accept it, then it is not that the king lied nor failed, but you have deceived yourself, and it is your fault, the king certainly gave it....  For it is God’s command and Word, that those speak and these hear; both are convictable, by their soul’s salvation, to believe this as certainly and steadfastly as all other articles of faith.” (Walch W1 XIX, 1172-1177, paragrs. 82-89; StL Ed. 19, 943-948, paragrs. 82-89; [Am. Ed. 40, 364-368])
So wrote Luther in 1530 on John 17:10:  “Glorifying Christ or to believe in Him is nothing other than, as we heard, [1880-48] holding certain as a fact that whoever has Him has the Father and all grace,...

= = = = = cont'd in next Part 17 = = = = = = =
In the previous essay that I published from Walther, SCR 1872, Part 7 had a section about a king's pardon.  In the essay above, Luther speaks about a king's gift of a castle.  Luther and Walther are ecstatic when it comes to the gifts of our "king"...  "the King of kings, and Lord of lords". 1 Tim. 6:15.

District President Jon D. Buchholz of the WELS said this in an essay (see this post):
There are many impenitent and unbelieving people in the world who embrace God’s forgiveness wrongly and imagine it to be theirs, even while they are living in impenitence and unbelief
How can it be that there are "unbelieving people" who "embrace God’s forgiveness", rightly or wrongly? ... and they "imagine it to be theirs"?  I thought (and Luther taught) that unbelief means they are uncertain about God's forgiveness for them, and so they have no power over sin?...  They are trapped in sin and are attempting to justify themselves (Luke 10:29) by whatever means they can find... except the means that God has given (i.e. the Means of Grace - the Word and the Sacraments).

In the next Part 17...

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