Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Luther On Baptism And Original Sin

"In all Christian earnestness I would ask all those who administer baptism, who hold the children, or witness it, to take this wonderful work to heart in all its seriousness. For here, in the words of these prayers, you hear how meekly and earnestly the Christian church concerns itself about the lilttle child and how it confesses before God in plain undoubting words that he is possessed by the devil and is a child of sin and wrath, and prays very diligently for aid and grace through baptism that he may become a child of God." Luther's Baptism Liturgy, AE Vol. 53 p. 101.

The Philadelphia edition of Luther's Works translates the above paragraph in part: "For here in the words of this prayer you hear how plaintively, pitifully, and earnestly the Christian Church concerns itself about the little child, etc." This gives a better picture of the creature before the Creator.

If more were aware of man's sinful nature and subsequent condemnation, there would be a far greater urgency to hear the gospel and partake of the sacraments, the gospel would be received as something wonderful, and there would yet be rejoicing among us.

The lack of this is due to rampant  Antinomianism in the ALC as many reject the right preaching of the holy Law of God. Some don't mind hearing of surface sins preached, but will not hear the truth of the spiritually dead condition of man by natural birth. This is the worst form of Antinomianism by which men call God a liar and deny Christ.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Concerning Confession Of Sin

There is today much stress placed upon auricular confession of sin; that is, the confession one makes into the ear of another person. It is also called private confession. This has been fomenting for decades, until it is now to the point where other words have wrongly become synonymous with confession, such as repentance, putting away sin, and laying sin aside. The term "forgiveness of sins" is tied almost exclusively to private confession. Also many places in Scripture are misunderstood to speak of auricular confession, and are taught in such a way as to require such confession. Luther teaches, however, that this confession is nowhere demanded by Scripture, but is of human rite, and is beneficial in the church as a comfort for troubled consciences. Not that one can breath a sigh of relief that they finally met the requirement of confession, but that they are able to hear the gospel, or absolution, preached. Herein is our comfort, that we are reassured and strengthened to believe that by faith in the blood of Christ we are in a state of forgiveness wherein God does not impute our sin unto us. Private confession is but one of the many ways by which God pours out abundant absolution upon His church. He desires that we be confident of His good will toward us through Christ.

Many who today demand private confession use the very same arguments as did the Roman Catholic church against Luther. I'm afraid many are far from Reformation doctrine and are rather in bed with the Pope in this matter.

One of the passages often used to teach private confession as a scriptural requirement is I John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Let us look briefly at what Luther writes in his commentary on this passage, taken from the American Edition of Luther's Works:

"God is faithful because He keeps His promises. He is just when He gives righteousness to him who confesses that He is just. It is as if God were saying: 'Because you say that I am just, which I am, for this reason I shall show you My justice and justify you.' Therefore if you can say: 'We have no righteousness,' you should persuade yourself with certainty that God is faithful, cling to His promises that He wants to forgive sins because of Christ, and is just, since He gives to everyone that which belongs to him, presents the righteousness acquired through the death of Christ to him who confesses his sins and believes, and in this way also makes him righteous. David confesses his sin, but Saul excuses his sin before Samuel and could not say: 'I have sinned' in the way David did (I Sam. 15). All he wanted was to be honored before the people. This is what we do when we defend our sins in order that we may not be shamed before men. It was Saul's wish that the prophet pray for him before the elders of Israel. For he certainly did not want to seem to have sinned against the Lord. But for this reason he, together with all our hypocrites, was shamed before God. Furthermore, this statement cannot be understood as referring to auricular confession, although I do not reject that confession either. No, this statement must be understood as referring to confession before God by which we ourselves confess our sins as well as our faith. Thus God finally forgives sin and grants grace and a pacified conscience by taking away the sting and the bite of conscience." End quote.

Notice that Luther says this cannot be understood as referring to auricular confession. He instead speaks of much deeper matters which pertain to the condition of the heart, of the knowledge of sin and of grace; the knowledge of self and of God.

Drastic Changes

"This dumb, deaf, blind, and demon-possessed man represents all the children of Adam, who through the flesh are possessed of Satan in original sin, so that they must be his slaves and do according to his will."

"Here he shows us both heaven and hell, death and life, wrath and grace, and reveals unto us our sins and ruined condition, so that we may be awakened on account of it, because we hear that a man as soon as he is born, naturally belongs to the devil and is condemned. This is part of this constraint, by which one is terrified at the wrath of God and desires grace and help from him."

I know many reject Luther, but there might be a few elect souls whom God will yet lead to the knowledge of the truth. I therefore quoted from two of his sermons as he preached concerning Original Sin. Truly there was rejoicing in Heaven when such sinners were given the grace to hear and believe the gospel! Many ask where the rejoicing has gone from among us. I assert and assure you that it is gone with the right preaching of the Law.

The teaching of Original Sin was very clearly taught in the Reformation and Awakening times, and was accepted as a common and ordinary saying. Today, however, people rise up angrily against this teaching. I fear it is because they are unawakened, and the judgment of damnation by God against them has never been experienced. Revelation of sin goes no deeper for them than actual sin, do's and don'ts. When they clean up their act they are converted, and if they fall into a sin on their conviction list they simply confess it to 'put it away'. They teach that all are born saved and if we lead a good life and make confession of our sins we will stay saved. God's judgment is always pending, and if we toe the line we will escape it.

The truth is, God's judgment has already been pronounced against the sinful race of Adam, and this judgment applies to all, youngest to oldest. This is because of our inward corruption which we cannot change or confess away. We need to be delivered from this state, born again, thoroughly washed and purged. This comes when one hears and believes the gospel; that Christ has died for your sins and by faith in His blood you are completely cleansed and justified. You are now by the operation of the Holy Spirit dead to sin and alive unto righteousness. This is God's promise, a blood Covenant in which He sees and remembers your sins no more, but sees you as holy and righteous, without spot or blemish. This applies to all sinners, youngest to oldest, upon whom God now, by this Gospel, shows favor and promises to pour out blessings upon them even unto eternal life.