Aaron Denlinger’s latest post, just in time for Reformation Day: In Memory of Marburg, In Defense of Moderation – Reformation21 Blog.
Gene Veith shares a great outlook on the privilege of being a parent: Luther on changing a baby’s diaper (rerun).
The result of free will:
“My own good works availed me naught,
No merit they attaining;
Free will against God’s judgment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.
My fears increased till sheer despair
Left naught but death to be my share;
The pangs of hell I suffered.” -Luther
“What great toil and effort it cost the church fathers to gather up a few crumbs, while we with half the labor – with almost no labor at all – can acquire the whole loaf. O how their efforts put our indolence to shame!”
– Martin Luther
Brandon Adams of Contrast recently posted a link to a helpful post by Matthew Tuininga which was recently posted on the Reformation21 blog. (You can see Brandon’s post here.) Here are some parts that jumped out at me in light of all the political ruckus that accompanies election time in the United States (bold emphasis is mine):
But in the late nineteenth century a new challenge arose. Protestant liberalism, particularly the version epitomized in the social gospel, sought to emphasize the immediate implications of the kingdom of Christ in this world. Any Protestant doctrine deemed too conservative, or too tolerant of the status quo, was minimized or abandoned. The kingdom of God, it was said, was to transform all of the institutions of this life, and this was to be the goal of all Christians in all their vocations, including politics.
Some contemporary two kingdoms advocates, particularly Darryl Hart, have stepped on the toes of many conservative evangelicals by arguing that the evangelical attitude toward the church and politics is often nothing better than a conservative version of the social gospel. In several books, including The Lost Soul of American Protestantism,A Secular Faith, and From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, Hart has skillfully demonstrated the pietist post-millennial origins of both American evangelicalism and the social gospel, arguing that these groups have far more in common than most scholars would like to admit. In contrast, Hart argues, confessional Reformed Christians have always been much more careful not to identify the kingdom of God with social or political transformation. They have rightly recognized that the institutional expression of the kingdom in this age is the church, not the state, the family, or any other created institution.
The kingdom is otherworldly in the sense that it is future and its full consummation awaits Christ’s return. The way in which we access that kingdom…is through the regular means of grace, specifically preaching and the administration of the sacraments. When we emphasize all of life as kingdom activity, just as when we view all of life as worship, we lose sight of what is distinctive and vital about the church itself.
As 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesians 5-6 make clear, because Christians live between two ages, they cannot turn everything they do into the kingdom of God, but they are to do everything that they do in obedience to Christ’s lordship.
(PDF can be found here.)
Editor’s Note: This essay is taken from Chapter 9 of Horatius Bonar’s The Everlasting Righteousness, originally published in 1874. The Trinity Foundation is now publishing a revised edition of the book.
Assurance of Salvation
”Christ for us,” the obedient in the place of the disobedient, is the first part of our message. His assumption of the legal claims, which otherwise would have been made good against us, is the security for our deliverance. That deliverance becomes an actual thing to us immediately upon our consenting to allow him to undertake our case.
“Christ in us” is the second part of our Gospel. This second is of mighty moment, and yet is not to be confounded with the first. That which is done for us is not the same as that which is done in us. By the former we are constituted righteous, by the latter we are made holy. The one is properly the Gospel, in the belief of which we are saved; the other, the carrying out of that Gospel in the soul. Christ “for us” is our justification. “Christ in us, and we in Christ,” is our holiness. The former is the external substitution; the latter, the internal energy or operation, taking its rise from the former, yet not to be confounded with it, or substituted for it. Christ the substitute, giving his life for ours upon the cross, is specially the object of faith. The message concerning this sacrificial work is the Gospel, the belief which brings pardon to the guilty. God has given us this Gospel not merely for the purpose of securing to us life hereafter, but of making us sure of this life even now. It is a true and sure Gospel; so that he who believes it is made sure of being saved. If it could not make us sure, it would make us miserable; for to be told of such a salvation and such a glory, yet kept in doubt as to whether they are to be ours or not, must render us truly wretched. What a poor Gospel it must be, which leaves the man who believes it still in doubt as to whether he is a child of God, an unpardoned or a pardoned sinner! Till we have found forgiveness, we cannot be happy; we cannot serve God gladly or lovingly; but must be in sore bondage and gloom. This is the view of the matter which Scripture sets before us; telling us that salvation is a free, a sure, and a present gift. “He that believes is justified” (Acts 13:39). “He that believes has everlasting life” (John 3:36). The Bible gives no quarter to unbelief or doubting. It does not call it humility. It does not teach us to think better of ourselves for doubting. It does not countenance uncertainty or darkness.
“The Holy Scriptures, especially the New Testament, often mention faith in Christ and say that whoever believes in him is saved, does not perish, is not judged, has eternal life, and so on (see John 3:16 and 5:24). Saying that people who believe in him are condemned because they have faith without works is to pervert everything, making Christ a destroyer and a murderer, and Moses a saviour. I admit that our adversaries do not use these exact words, but this is in fact what they teach. They say that faith in Christ does not make us free from sin, but only faith combined with love. This is to say that Christ leaves us in our sins and in the wrath of God and makes us guilty of eternal death, whereas if you keep the law, faith justifies you because it has works, without which faith is no help. Therefore, works justify, and not faith, they claim. What pernicious and cursed teaching this is!
“Paul bases his argument on an impossibility. If we are justified in Christ and yet are still sinners and can be justified only by some means other than Christ—namely, by the law—then Christ cannot justify us but only accuses and condemns us. And it then follows that Christ died in vain, and this passage and others (such as John 1:29and 3:16) are not true. The whole Scripture is then false when it tells us that Christ is the justifier and Saviour of the world. If we are still sinners after we have been justified by Christ, it follows that those who fulfill the law are justified without Christ. If this is true, then we are heretics, professing the name and Word of God outwardly but in reality denying Christ and his Word. It is therefore great impiety to say that faith does not justify unless it is combined with works of love. If faith and works together justify us, then Paul’s words are not true when he says we are justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law (verse 16).”
“To teach that faith in Christ does not justify us unless we observe the law is to make Christ a minister of sin—that is, a teacher of the law, teaching the very same doctrine that Moses did. Thus Christ is no Saviour, no giver of grace, but a cruel tyrant who, like Moses, requires things that none of us can do. But the Gospel is a preaching of Christ who forgives sins, gives grace, and justifies and saves sinners. There are commandments in the Gospel, but they are not the Gospel but expositions of the law, and they depend on the Gospel.”
Luther, M. (1998). Galatians. The Crossway classic commentaries (93–95). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.