Monday, February 26, 2007

Thoughts on Mission

Pastor Weedon offers a good post entitled "Confusing the how with the what". It reminds me of the song "I love to tell the story" that never actually tells the story... Check out Weedon's post. It's well worth your time.

Friday, February 23, 2007


My wife (among others) will be very pleased to learn that I have joined her in the online health/diet/fitness program at Check it out at the link below. If you tell them that "spark_father" referred you, I get sparkpoints.

Join me at:

Get a Free Online Diet

I almost forgot: I get points if I tell you that (1) I'm not going to eat in front of the tv; (2) I'm going to get 10 minutes of cardio exercise; (3) I'm going to tell 1 person about my goals. There. Done.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Good Works are Necessary

(Article VI.)

#7 in the series:
What implications or applications may be drawn
from a quia subscription to the Book of Concord?

Good works are indeed necessary. The faith (about which the previous articles spoke) is the kind of faith that "must bring forth good fruits and good works", on account of this faith "we must do all manner of good works". Why? What sort of good works are we talking about? They are the necessary good works that are required and commanded by God.

Article VI. is quick to note what kind of necessity this is. These good works are in no way required or commanded by God as necessary for meriting salvation. These good works should by no means give someone the impression that he is "meriting favor" before God. (The good work that merited God's favor for us was done by Someone else.) The good works spoken about in Article VI. are necessary for a different purpose (than earning salvation) altogether.

So what are these good works with which God is well pleased? What are these things that God has commanded, that He wants His Christians (of necessity) to do?
**Update** Once again, I'd like to direct you to the excellent post and discussion taking place on this topic at Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions: Roundtable 7: The New Obedience.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Roundtable 6 is up at the Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions blog, and the topic is Article V. It is an excellent post, and the comments are equally worth reading. My favorite part of their post:

But how does one receive such faith? Faith does not concern itself with “finding Jesus” by somehow traveling backward through time to the historical event of Jesus’ crucifixion. Salvation was achieved on the cross at Calvary, but it was not delivered there. The “instruments” extolled in AC V (Word and Sacraments) deliver salvation, but do not accomplish it.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

When a theologian is asked to yield and make concessions in order that peace may at last be established in the Church, but refuses to do so even in a single point of doctrine, such an action looks to human reason like intolerable stubbornness, yea, like downright malice. That is the reason why such theologians are loved and praised by few men during their lifetime. Most men rather revile them as disturbers of the peace, yea, as destroyers of the kingdom of God. They are regarded as men worthy of contempt. But in the end it becomes manifest that this very determined, inexorable tenacity in clinging to the pure teaching of the divine Word by no means tears down the Church; on the contrary, it is just this which, in the midst of greatest dissension, builds up the Church and ultimately brings about genuine peace.

from the Fourth Evening Lecture of C.F.W. Walther, translated by W. H. T Dau in The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel; St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1929, 1986; page 28.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Kurt Marquart Fund for Theological Education in Haiti was recently announced. Initiated by the CTSFW class of 2007, information on the fund may be found by going here.
God Works Through Means

(Article V.)

(#6) in the series:
What implications or applications may be drawn
from a quia subscription to the Book of Concord?

The faith that saves is obtained through the ways and means that God employs. The ways and means that God employs for mankind's salvation is "the Gospel and the Sacraments". The Holy Spirit is imparted through the Gospel and the Sacraments, to work faith where and when He pleases in those who hear the Gospel, the teaching that "through the merits of Christ, and not through our own merits, we have a merciful God, if we believe these things".

All of this is to say that God works to save us through His Word. The merits of the suffering and death of Jesus are applied in the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Speaking of "the Gospel and the Sacraments" is to speak twice of the same thing, because the Sacraments are nothing less than the Gospel in an elemental form. For example, Holy Baptism is the Gospel made watery and applied to men. It wets the baptized, not simply as an outward washing, but as a watery, heavenly flood of salvation and regeneration - because God's powerful Word is attached to that water in Baptism. God's Word makes the water of Baptism powerful, so that those who are baptized in it receive the benefits of what Christ merited upon the cross - the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from death and the power of the devil. This is how God works through His Holy Spirit for our salvation.

The contrary position condemned (censured) in this article is the teaching that the Holy Spirit is received by means (as a result) of "our own preparation, our thoughts and works, without the external word of the Gospel".

Implications and Applications?

Considered with the preceding articles, this article talks about how we receive faith and the mercy of God. In consequence of original sin, we are unable to make ourselves right before God (being filled with "evil desires and propensities", having "no true fear of God, no true faith in God"). The good and righteous works which men are able to do by nature (works of charity for the welfare of others, for example) are only such in the eyes of men; these works do not avail for righteousness before God (see Article XVIII.).

Those who subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions have such a view of fallen humanity, that among them, it should be considered futile to try to persuade fallen people to "make a decision to follow Jesus" or to "accept Jesus into their hearts" (who by nature are unable to do these things anyway). Instead, such Lutherans look for the Holy Spirit to work through the preaching of repentance and remission of sins to convert people to fear of God and faith in God; this preaching of the Gospel speaks about and delivers the mercy that God shows us for the sake of the suffering and death of His Son. The Sacraments do the same thing, putting the old flesh to death and raising souls and bodies to new life in Christ. This is where the working of the Holy Spirit for conversion and salvation is to be sought: in the "means" of grace, the Gospel and the Sacraments.