Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sanctification, not by law, third use or otherwise.

Hebrews 13:7-16 (ESV)
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. [8] Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. [9] Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. [10] We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. [11] For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. [12] So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. [13] Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. [14] For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. [15] Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. [16] Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
“Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.” By grace. The grace of God must be front and center of any doctrine, any teaching. If the Grace of God occupies center stage then it is the gospel. IF not chuck it and get out. Law does not strengthen the heart. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. That is those who serve the law. If you want the law, you can have it, but Jesus isn’t there. Jesus suffered outside the gater to sanctify his people. So he does. There is not sanctification outside of his grace. He does it, not us. There is no sanctification with the law. None! No just stop, take your third use confusion with progressive sanctification and shove it. Either Christ has sanctified me or he hasn’t and there is no hope. Your not preaching sanctification when you are preaching this supposed third use. The third use is not about progressive sanctification. Christ sanctifies, not the law.


Steve Martin said...

Right on, Pastor Bror!

Christ sanctifies, or it ain't a gonna happen!

Jonathan said...

Yet, I think a lot of Haitians today are praying for some third use.

Larry said...


The lawyers will be coming out of their skulking holes against you on this one!


Larry said...

Rather than "third use", why don't we just do a thing simply because it needs to be done!

"Here, I'll help you because it sanctifies my behind not because you need it."

Larry said...

A lot of “third use” law users for progress or sanctification really mean “photo op law use”. Kind of like when Hollywood or politician types do a “good deed” and make sure they get their (credit) “photo op”. That’s why they pick the “big ticket items” or as Luther put it the good works that are rather shiny and more grand. These are really the evil works and bad fruit signatory of the false prophets. They presume to know better than even God’s law altogether, under the guise of course of “third use”, “sanctification” and/or “progression/growth”. So that eating, sleeping and say changing a crappy diaper, “oh dear no those are not good works or fruit”, no shine or luster to those, no photo op to show everyone and especially show God. Rather if we do these very BIG and GRAND works, yes the one’s the crowd will cheer for, the many noisy coin clanging tithes of much money and much grand works, the new worthy works, the church yard duty list, very high and pious stuff, very ostentatious, dazzling, bewitching, glittery, glorious works – THESE are the “photo op works” the false teachers have, teach, do and encourage. In fact they so teach and bind people to these “photo op works” that they hinder the REAL rather tedious, uninteresting and unnoticeable good works of God that the REAL third use of the Law, if we may use that correctly, identifies but does not command.


Steve Martin said...


(Law Bangers Against Bror)

They'll be coming after you, Bror.

Like you give a rodents derriere.

Anonymous said...
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Jonathan said...

Still, there is a proper "third use" acknowledged in the Lutheran Confessions, no?

I always and ONLY understood "third use" like Larry describes: it's the things we do simply (reflexively, perhaps) in thankful response to our having been sanctified, and FOR the benefit of our neighbor. Or, if there has to be some consciousness on our part involved in it, then it's how we, who are already sanctified, OUGHT to live/act.

Jonathan said...

We see the proper (as in "meet, right, salutary") admonition to third use follow on the heels of our explaining our sanctification by grace through faith, e.g., Eph. 2:10. Other places where the apostles urge, "don't neglect to do good works", and "your good works are pleasing to God" (of course even if they don't score you sanctification points.)

My only point here being, we make "third use" a completely derogatory term, when it has a good and proper (dare I even say necessary?) place.

Bror Erickson said...

I don't make third use a derogatory term, those who make it the motivator in a sanctified life do.
Third use is not good works either. Third use is really third function of the law. That is not only does it show us our sin, but the law also has a tendency to work as a guide for Christian living God pleasing life, even as it is showing us our sin. but when we start mixing it with the idea of progressive sanctification we have problems.

Steve Martin said...

As always, I say that that so called "third use" is already contained in the first two uses.

And that the Holy Spirit does not need the law to inform it of anything. The Holy Spirit is the One who sanctifies us.

Law is law, is law.

Brigitte said...

RE: third use.

Reading Walther in Matt Harrison's book I noted the reasons for and the the vehemence expressed in requiring all church workers to subscribe to the entire confessions UNCONDITIONALLY (well, the laity, too).

Now there were issues of the day and we have issues of our day, which are probably largely the same. As we know they rear their heads here and there, that's why the confessions are always relevant.

I've been wondering since then, if's at all ok to say, oh this part was written by so and so for such a reason, and Luther did not write this or mean this... Certain parts are more unconditional than others...?
Background always helps in interpreting but should not let you throw out the meaning intended.

So maybe one should not say that the "third use" is unacceptable.

As Christians we act as without compulsion; there is no law at all. But the law is still the law and it still applies and we still break it. So even the Christian has the law preached to him; we all understand this, because, like Paul, we live this paradox.

That's what third law says to me. The Christian is not yet so holy, that he does not need to find orientation from the law.

Yet, very confessional people have told me there is no third use. It's in the definition for me. If it just says, you Christian better remind yourself what the law is, then that is fine. It is also liberating because it protects us from falling into man made laws.

On a different note, I just put up a little song on my blog which is all third use of the law. See if you like it? Of course, it always accuses. :)

None of which contradicts what Pastor Bror is writing.

Larry said...

It’s not a matter of subscribing or not subscribing, but spelling out what is meant and what is heresy. In a way I agree with Steve, but in a way Third Use is good. The problem is the term “third use” is usurped and used by deluded Lutherans and Calvinist in a false way and bridge to say, “we mean what you mean”. Yet if you don’t have the sacraments right you cannot possibly have the third use right, not one single bit of it.

The third use, rightly used, the aid in identifying, not motivation (false third/Calvinistic/Baptist use) is bulwark ally against all forms of progressive sanctification third use users, sanctification third use users, fruit third use users, good works third use users and so forth. For what it does is destroy the glittery glorious works that false saints LOVE to put forth as fruit, third use, good works. When in fact the real third use is against that very notion. It says, “to hell with that, God has not commanded that or raised that over this work over here”. It reveals itself in this: When a false teacher either invents good works, invents church yard works, or compiles a list of good works or expresses that some work may not be sin but is lesser than this other work over here, whatever that is, even saving the lives of a million people at the sacrifice of one’s self – these are the rotten fruits of the satanic false teachers. If you ask such a false teacher if eating, sleeping, picking up a straw is a good work, they will either say “no” or contort themselves into knots over it in preference to the shiny glory works, their evil fruit. They will say, “Yes getting married and having children is a good thing, BUT (there’s always a “but” with false teachers), this evangelism/missions/thing over here is “more spiritual” or of higher priority. They thus show how they demonically despise the real Law of God which commands such works.

False “third use” users always use the “third use” to promote their particular enumerated list of “real good works”. True third use users turn that back as a violent Gospel sword to kill that very thing, boldly.

This is why Luther’s advise to struggling Christians in his letters is so strong, it has the very Word of God backing it up. This is why for example when he advised the despair Jerome Weller that it was the devil making him despair in his rather mundane vocation. Because Luther understood the very Word of God commanded the office, only the devil makes one despair of it to drive one away from it. And so the devil does this with both believers and unbelievers in their mundane callings in life. This is why there is a cross in your every day job that the devil uses to tempt you away from it, this is why marriage and family has a cross in it that the devil says like the first thief, “If you are the son of God…get us off of this suffering cross and on to greener grass at this other job, one with more glory to it.”

In short when some huffing and puffing enthused Baptist comes at me and says, “family is fine but you should be doing more evangelism”. I can say, “Kiss my ass, the Word of God commands family, servant of Satan leave me be.” And THAT communicates indirectly more Gospel than any so called “evangelism”.


Frank Sonnek said...

If you want to know what the LUTHERAN and correct 3rd use of the law is, then take the time to actually READ the officially confessed LUTHERAN 3rd use statement ok? this is article VI of the Formula of Concord. Read the "Epitome" says the same thing as the companion solid declaration but it is a summary and easier to read. you can find it here: The Third Use of the Law.

It basically says this:

"There is a 3rd use of the law, just for christians, that informs christians that there is no special use of the law just for them."

The LUTHERAN 3rd use is that there is NO third use!

You will find the following in article VI to prove this:

1) That there is NO special use of the law JUST for christians:

Art VI "7] 6. Thus the Law is and remains both to the penitent and impenitent, both to regenerate and unregenerate men, one [and the same] Law"

(2) You will find in art VI any notion that the New Man, the Christ In Us, in Christians has NO need of or use for the law:

Art VI: "On account of this OLD ADAM, which still inheres in the understanding, the will, and all the powers of man, it is needful that the Law of the Lord always shine before them [them=all men]"

You WILL find that believers, in so far as they are reborn, have NO need of the Law for sanctification OR it´s fruit:

Art VI: "Fruits of the Spirit, however, are the works which the Spirit of God who dwells in believers works through the regenerate, and which are done by believers so far as they are regenerate [spontaneously and freely], as though they knew of no command, threat, or reward [no law!]."

So where is a calvinistic "3rd use taught here? It isn´t!

Frank Sonnek said...

What Chemitz (the editor and one of the 3 main authors of the Formula along with Andreae and Selnecker) does is give the 3rd finger of the law to Calvinists in article VI of the Formula of concord.

HOW he does this is precisely how Lutherans point out that there is NO calvinistic/melancthonian 3rd use:

Chemnitz takes a Luther sermon about two kinds of righteousness, based on romans 8 that is about outward-non-faith-true-righteousness vs the righteousness of faith in society.

He then reworks this sermon to be about what is true WITHIN the believer.

here is the Luther sermon I am talking about directly referenced in article VI:

Note here that:

1) The Heavenly Kingdom Is dealt with first in article VI as regeneration being a heavenly righteousness where fruit happens spontaneously and automatically by faith ALONE with no Law needed. In the sermon the Heavenly kingdom is dealt with as the second part.

2) The earthly kingdom is dealt with in article 4 as everything about true righteousness in the Old Adam which is all Law. This earthly kingdom part EXCLUDES all talk of faith and looks IDENTICAL to what happens in the Old Adam of pagans and christians alike. This is dealt with first in the Luther sermon.

Luther make the point that we will not be able to retain the teaching of faith ALONE in the heavenly kingdom, unless we allow all true outward righteousness to be entirely in the earthly kingdom.

This parallels romans 8 where flesh/body is contrasted to Spirit.

Luther is merely repeating saint Paul here but with the words:

True Outward righeousness or flesh, contrasted to the Inner Righteousness of Faith/Christ/Spirit.

Doesn´t it seem odd that Luther would say that flesh/body in romans 8 represents True (ie God pleasing) outward righteousness?

I do. But he is right.


Frank Sonnek said...

correction: where i said article 4 in my last post i meant of course article VI , or article 6

Larry said...

"There is a 3rd use of the law, just for christians, that informs christians that there is no special use of the law just for them."

The LUTHERAN 3rd use is that there is NO third use!


That's nice, very nice indeed! I miscommunicated, there's only so much one can write in e-posts in one setting.

I only meant to say that by some Lutherans mingling with Calvinist and both saying, "we believe the same thing...third use" THAT term gets misused and usurped in a confusing way and then you are into a "Lutheran" endorsed Calvinistic third use of the Law.

It's kind of like who Law and Gospel get confused or every denomination using the term "we have the Lord's Supper". Well what do you mean by that then we shall tell if what you say is true. Or everyone saying this is "biblical", or this is "christian" (like Mormons for example).

There's a difference between the naked term itself naming a thing and the essence that IS the thing itself with or without that name. I can call a cat a "dog", but that does not make it so.

Thus, a Calvinist can say "we too believe in the third use of the Law", and a Lutheran either concurs by nodding his head emptily or by his silence on the matter. What by implication did he concur with as the "third use", well the calvinistic definition on the matter.

It's the same with the Lord's Supper and mingling it with the Reformed and saying, "well we just disagree in the mode". That's node defending the doctrine, that's conceding it.



Bror Erickson said...

"That's nice, very nice indeed! I miscommunicated, there's only so much one can write in e-posts in one setting."
That is not the Larry I know. Not the one from Kentucky, can't be. He is undaunted in his mission to write as much as he can in one E-post. :)

Brigitte said...

I think we need to add to the confessions. "How the Reformed have abused the Lutheran confessions, expanded" and Larry is the man to write it.

Larry said...

Hahaha. You gotta throw'em a "I messed up here" bone now and again;-)

That is hard to do in multidenominational discussions, be short.

You start out writing about baptism, but then you have to say what it is not and what it is. Then on one side you have to cover your Reformed use of that term, then you have to cover your Baptist use of that term, then you have to delve into your Catholic use of that term. Finally after you've covered all your basis, then you can maybe say, "This is what Luther meant/said". But then if a Lutheran has misunderstood you have to go back and say, "I meant the reformed use here and here". By the time you've done that with every term (e.g. faith, grace, Gospel, Law, etc...) It's like trying to grab hold of a slippery eel!

It's no wonder the confessions started out as short paragraphs (Apostles/Nicene Creed) and now full sized volumes hundreds of pages long (Book of Concord).

It's like wacking a hornets nest, the angry bees just come out at you from all angles.

Larry said...

"What Chemitz (the editor and one of the 3 main authors of the Formula along with Andreae and Selnecker) does is give the 3rd finger of the law to Calvinists in article VI of the Formula of concord."

I like this one best of all!

I was just discussing this at lunch, that back in my calvinistic SB days and to some degree my PCA days what made me think "third use" was flawed is that I knew the preachers and teachers that did this to you, and they NEVER acheived the level of "third use" they themselves laid upon you via sermons and teaching. It's always so much hypocrisy.

Maybe third use of the law should be changed to "the hypocritical use of the law" or "do as I say not as I do use of the law".


Larry said...

From Luther’s sermon, “In what error and blindness we were aforetime, when not even a spark of such teaching enlightened us and we allowed ourselves to be led in the name of the devil by the whims of every lying preacher; we tried all kinds of works, ran hither and thither, expended and wasted our energies, money and property; here we established masses and altars, there cloisters and brotherhoods, and every one was groping for the way in which he might serve God; yet no one found it, but all remained in darkness. For there was no God who might say: This is pleasing to me, this I have commanded, etc.
Yes, our blind guides did nothing less than lose sight of God’s word, separated it from good works, and instead of these set up other works everywhere; in addition to this they discarded and despised the positions in life, which God had appointed, as though he knew no better, nor even as well as we, how to manage his affairs.”
This one is dynamite! That one rings home to me on a personal level, every word of it! Back in my days deep in the dark SB church that’s exactly how it is. I found myself in church situations through SBism in which the (lying) preachers would set up all kind of works that indeed ran hither and thither, that expended vast amounts of my time, money and energy even to the detriment to my finances. Most of it was to “evangelize” or “do missions” and “build” the church (in likeness to establishing masses and altars, cloisters and brotherhoods). After all “true Christian” will give sacrificially! And in this one finds oneself INDEED groping for the way in which one might serve God; yet no one found it. That is if you asked you always get this nebulous “serve God” or the “church yard list” answer but no specifics and assurance is never had.

This statement too rings true, “in addition to this they discarded and despised the positions in life, which God had appointed”, for I recall feeling guilty I had to have a secular job and couldn’t serve God “full time”. If you were single you were made to feel guilty that you might get married for marriage would take you away from the church, let alone having children that might further disengage you from the church work.

A lot of heavy spiritual pressure is put upon one.


Brigitte said...

We understand you, Larry.

Brigitte said...


Frank Sonnek said...

Yes that is really it larry.

The genius of chemitz in his article VI is that he shows us exactly how to point the 3rd finger of the law at baptists and others who say

1) there is a special law just for christians
2) the Law is used to increase sanctification , and
3) the old adam can be reformed if only we marry fallen will power (which also must die in truth) with some wierd idea of sanctification.

What Chemnitz does is use the format of Luthers sermon to describe what happens WITHIN the believer, 1) the new Christ-in-us, faith the heavenly kingdom and 2) the earthly kingdom old adam.

Here is where we Lutherans get it screwed up. We say that there is only ONE kind of righteousness that truly counts, that is ONLY works done in faith for our neighbor out of gratitude for the gospel. We have just introduced works into what that word "christian" means.

Instead, we should follow Luther as Chemnitz did. We should acknowledge that there are in fact TWO kinds of righteousness that are truly pleasing to God: 1) Outward earthly righteousness, and 2)INNER INVISIBLE heavenly Righteousness (ie Jesus and not even our faith or repentence!).

We grant ALL Outward righteousness to this earthly righteousness and exclude talk of inner faith here. why?

because then we are clear that in the heavenly kingdom, Christ ALONE is our Righteousness! Why? because we have already included EVERYTHING else in that earthly outward kingdom.

Luther here is merely following st paul in romans chapter 8 here.

And here is Luther´s genius: Luther sees that "faith/body" vs spirit in romans 8 means true god pleasing earthly righteousness vs true heavenly Righteousness here called "Spirit".

When we read "flesh, body , carnal" we read these in a greek way and not a hebrew way. We follow the humanists and scholastics.

To understand how Luther´s breakthrough passage was "The Just shall live by Faith", you must first see that he recognizes two kinds of true, and God-pleasing righteousness!

The outward true righteousness, pleasing to God and promising earthly blessings , will nevertheless die with the earth along with those who seek their life there. Those who seek their Righteousness in Christ will live.

The Just will live by Christ, by faith that is, rather than seek to live by outward righteousness. Yet they will still see that outward righteousness pleases God.

Luther (commentary on galatians. I quote from memory here...):

Christ comes to us in two ways, as Savior and as example. We need Christ as savior and abraham as example of faith, we don´t need christ as example and sweaty abraham.

But once we have Christ as Savior, we should not forget to bring Christ as Example (law) along for the ride.

Frank Sonnek said...

We deal with people who quote James by making things, as they do, either/or. law/gospel, faith/works.

We end up both being wrong. We argue over the drivers and that is not where the argument is. We know this because both sides protest that they are about faith alone.

We need to take the argument to fruit: outward righteousness vs the inner righteousness of faith.

BOTH are true righteousness. BOTH are pleasing to God.

One will perish with the earth along with those who seek life in earthly things such as true, god pleasing outward righteousness.

The other inner righteousness of faith will live, along with those who live in it.

This is to die the world and live in christ. and then, like christ, we return to the world and place ourselves (old adam only!) under the law in service to our neighbor.

The Christ of the incarnation and the new man need no self discipline/mortifcation of the flesh. Christ IS the fulfillment of law and IS the gospel. so is the new man.

The old man still needs to hear these things. he is still under the penalty of death the law brings. He will die. he must die. along with his will power and reason etc etc etc.

Frank Sonnek said...

Larry, Luther gets bonus points. he shows us how to judge what is true outward righteousness (true=god pleasing):

self-discipline (aka mortification) + love for neighbor = true righteousness.

love=actions that better the life of your neighbor.

Luther: "life is mortification."

note that love is the fruit of law (mortification) worked in the old adam. mortification/self discipline <> love. the new adam/christ require no discipline. Love happens directly, automatically and spontaneously like light from sun. You and me are fulfillments of the law in christ. Love is the fulfillment of the law.

usually the religious think that discipline or making others heel to the law is righteousness or even love.

They make self discipline about you when it should be about them, and they make love about them when it should be about you. Like a t-shirt turned inside out. all the elements are there, but they are ass backwards!

But this all is instead worthess and useless because it is visible and obvious that all this busyness makes no one´s life one bit better. So right there it fails the test of what is true outward righteousness.

OR, we just try to love without discipline, we meddle in the lives of others or end up doing something that comes back as "well, he MEANT well!" or we do something on impulse that has lots of unintended negative consequences.

discipline+love=true god pleasing righteousness. Only that. Nothing but.

Frank Sonnek said...

"So what must I do to please god and make him happy?"

inner Christ-Righteousness, and its fruit: "Love the Lord your god with all your heart soul and mind".


"love your neighbor as yourself" true god-pleasing outward righteousness.

now without that first righteousness, there is no salvation. Only the holy spirit can work that first righteousness. no faith is needed to do all that outward neighbor stuff.

Alexander said...

@ Frank Sonnek, I think I'm one of those Lutherans that might have bought into the Calvinist view a bit to much. This was done because I felt a need to defend the confessions against people that have a problem with third use. Perhaps I was defending the wrong thing. A couple questions.

First would Pauls exhortations be considered third use of the law? It seems to me that he doesn't write them in a second use kind of way but they are also law because they command. Ex. 1 Thessalonians 4, Romans 13, Ephesians 5 and 6.

Also what would you say to someone that says that its the holy spirit that guides not the law and that no law is required even to tell us there is no special law and the we don't need to be shown what a good work is, The holy spirit does it all?

Would it be wrong to conclude that many of the anti third use people come off sounding like enthusiast?

Also how concerned should I be that people reject third use? People in authority at my church. (I go to an independent Lutheran church)

Last question what do you think about this article By John Warwick Montgomery?

Alexander said...

Also what do I say to some one that says "written law is not for believers"?

Frank Sonnek said...

#1 @ alexander. Great questions that get at the heart of the matter. I am liking you!

"First would Pauls exhortations be considered third use of the law? It seems to me that he doesn't write them in a second use kind of way but they are also law because they command. Ex. 1 Thessalonians 4, Romans 13, Ephesians 5 and 6."

WHEREEVER the bible is about US DOING or SHOULD do something, it is law and mortification you can be dead certain! What else would it be? It therefore has NOTHING to do with faith, and therefore nothing to do with sanctification, which is simple Christ dwelling in us through faith. Gospel? Does christ in the incarnation or in you need lawschool? no. And yes the Holy Spirit works using the law, so just because HS is invoked does not mean it is not law. Our Mortification of the Old Adam is a work of the HS as well.

"Also how concerned should I be that people reject third use? People in authority at my church. (I go to an independent Lutheran church)"

Well. This really depends! We should not get hung up on 1st,2nd, 3rd use. Luther sometimes says there is only one use, law as a fence. mine/thine. this works nicely even with the first commandment as in "don´t try to be God." It is mirror and curb together. It is STILL law, which gives nothing and asks for everthing. it debits it never credits. Lutheran pastors subscribe to the confessions BECAUSE they accord with the Bible and not INSOFARAS they agree with the bible. all or nothing. at the same time the confessions claim to be A correct exposition of the bible, not THE ONLY correct exposition of the bible. so if your leaders are saying they don´t like the form of article VI formula of concord, then they are foolish but still Lutheran. If they are rejecting the content, then go find a church that is truly Lutheran if that is what you want to be! I find alot of lutherans get so hung up on that term 3rd use that they dont really bother to read what article VI actually says, and it says nothing they say it says.

Secondly we need to define 3rd use. wrong definition includes the following ( you will find the CONTRARY to ALL of these in article VI of the Formula of Concord! Article VI exist to denounce these errors I am saying.)

Wrong 3rd use:

1) special use of law just for christians
2)law increases sanctification or it´s fruit, ie the new man, christ-in-us needs the law.
3) there is a use of the law for righteousness that is not about mortification of the Old Adam.

Frank Sonnek said...

#2 alexander

So now let´s look at those passages you listed:

" Ex. 1 Thessalonians 4, Romans 13, Ephesians 5 and 6."

Ex 1, think you mean 19. "you shall". 1thes "you shall". rom 13 "must". eph 5&6 "love&obey".

law,law, law, law and more law. so this MUST all be about disciplining the Old Adam since sanctification, which is the christ-in-us does not need mortification or self discipline or lawschooling.

"Also what would you say to someone that says that its the holy spirit that guides not the law and that no law is required even to tell us there is no special law and the we don't need to be shown what a good work is, The holy spirit does it all?"

They are confused. They need to pay attention to the FORM of sound doctrine (context and order of presentation in paul and luther) rather than think of doing doctrine as independent points of fact that can make sense however those points are ordered or arranged.

This is exactly the confusion article VI of the formula of concord was meant to untangle. exactly. Better..HOW does article VI untangle. It, like the luther sermon it riffs off of does it this way, a sort of one-two punch: 1) "regeneration, christ-in-us, needs NO law." THEREFORE AND BECAUSE LAW IS FULLY EXCLUDED FROM SANCTIFICATION

2)WHENEVER we talk about the law, that MUST be about the Old Adam in pagan and believer, and must NOT be addressed to the New Man at all!

There are two points that confuse here:

1) the Holy spirit does both sanctification/new man and mortification of the Old Adam using the word of God. former is ONLY faith/gospel, therefore the later is everything NOT gospel/faith. ie law.

Indeed, the production of daily bread petition 4 and first article of the small catechism are produced by the Holy spirit applying law to old adam.

2) secondly the word "must" can be a law "must" or an "ordi-nant" must. Ordinant must looks like "light MUST flow from the sun. See the difference. when the confessions say good works MUST follow faith, they mean this second ordinant non-law use of "must". as in Christ in the incarnation MUST do only good works. This is not a law must rather it is a "there is no other option." think law of gravity here. Inexorable if you want a fancy word for this.

"Would it be wrong to conclude that many of the anti third use people come off sounding like enthusiast?"

absolutely! That in fact IS the problem! why? they separate from Gods Word what the definition of true outward righteousness, pleasing to God looks like and is. it is merely mortification/self discipline + love. love is acts that make your neighbor´s life look better here on earth. They turn good works in a vertical direction by making them about trying to please God. God needs them not. He is pleased when ALL our good works are pointed to making the life of our neighbor better. This does not look very spiritual and it is not at all about us except for the mortification/self-discipline part. You and I hate this don´t we according to our old adam?

Frank Sonnek said...

#3 alexander

"Last question what do you think about this article By John Warwick Montgomery?"

I thought it lacked clarity. that it would be unuseful as a guide to help a Lutheran or other christian untangle this mess. Usually Lutherans make this issue about law/gospel. faith/works comes closer, but since most lutherans flee from the idea that there are works that are truly god pleasing even if unbelievers are doing them, this path too gets confused. Law and gospel are the drivers for fruit. no one is confused here. the confusion is about the fruit.

so the discussion needs to be about fruit. two kinds of righteousness. both truly please God. one will die with the earth, one will live forever per romans 8.

better to read Luther and study article VI in it´s form and method. than montgomery.

again article VI starts out: regeneration/sanctification and it´s fruit simply happen like light from sun. therefore if we talk about law then it MUST be about something else.

It must be ALL about the Old Adam ONLY. in regeneration we are talking faith ALONE. so works MUST be ALL about Old Adam. see what they are doing here? It is their method you must learn. This is Luther´s own method. this method is exactly why he is so clear. You can be clear like him!

here are the juice words that look like article VI:

"But this latter piety ...has nothing to do with works. For how can it have works, since all that this body can perform and that is called works, is already included in the former piety."

God bless you in seeking to love your neighbor and in living in that Love that will not perish.

Frank Sonnek said...


"Also what do I say to some one that says "written law is not for believers"?

You should really read Luther´s commentary on Galatians together with the writing of Luther on Moses and his law. Usually these Lutherans read what luther says about moses and his law being abolished for christians without really understanding what he means by "abolished" and "christian"

For the new man in christ, the law no longer exists. Christ needs no law eh?

But because the Old Adam is still with us, we still need the written law. not just moses, but the law written in our heart called conscience or what lutherans call "natural law", along with the written civil laws of the country we live in. The old adam in pagans and in us is still under the full curse of the law.

my simple proof for this old adam still being under the full curse of the law is that you will physically die, along with all your truly god pleasing outward righeousness.

my simple proof for the fact that you as new man are freed from the law is your baptism and the promise of the resurrection!

Frank Sonnek said...


"Also what do I say to some one that says "written law is not for believers"?

as a Lutheran talking to Lutherans, you would also patiently and lovingly take them to article VI, the epitomy since it is easier and shorter.

You will then and show them exactly how this looks within a believer.

heavenly INNER righteousness. Christ-in-us. AND earthly OUTER righteousness, law and Old Adam which will perish with the earth.

both god pleasing.

one will live forever. the other will perish with the earth and the Old Adam.

Bror Erickson said...

"First would Pauls exhortations be considered third use of the law? It seems to me that he doesn't write them in a second use kind of way but they are also law because they command. Ex. 1 Thessalonians 4, Romans 13, Ephesians 5 and 6."
See this is where you get it wrong, in a "second use kind of way"
See I don't debate whether or not there is a third use Alexander. I whole heartedly agree that there is. The question, as Larry, asks is what is it? Right now the man to talk to about this is Dr. Murray. He did his dissertation on it. One of the biggest screwups concerning third use is the phrase third use. It should be third function, that is more how the term reads and is used in the BOC. The law functions this way and that way. The law isn't for us to use, you don't get to decide on it's use. Law is law. It will convict you of sin, and it will also show you ways in which you can make a God pleasing choice concerning what to do or not to do. But if anyone uses anyone when it comes to law, the law uses you, not the other way around. You don't get to use the law.

Larry said...

This is a great discussion, a lot here to ponder, there are some “chewy” points to ponder on all this.

Bror’s point on the term “use” is a good one, I personally have never been able to cow tow the Law to the “use” I prefer it. It’s never so much a confusing issue when one commits a what one might call “obvious negative sin”, theft and so forth. Rather when one does an actual good outward work or deed. It pretty much convicts me or not, even when I do do something outward according to the Law, I know my heart on its BEST day has mixed feelings and didn’t do it for unselfish reasons. If for no other sin the old Adam, which itself is a category easier spoken of in words and syllables than to peel apart within one’s self, will gather up this outward good work as a good guy point.

Calvin’s category for third use, the one I learned the most and experienced the most personally (to a LOT of un-assurance that I was ever saved, elected, born again, etc…) prior to coming over to Luther, is much different. There’s always a hidden or implied exhortation as a Calvinist to do it out of joy or gratitude for what Christ has done (in the Baptist Calvinist realm John Piper is probably the biggest one). Sermons in calvinist churches, both Baptist and PCA of which I’m personally familiar, circle almost exclusively around or emphasize “third use” to the loss of the Gospel. The Gospel becomes a sort of one sentence, “oh yea we assume that so we are not denying that”, then on to a thousand sentences about the third use.


You mention something about reading these things in Greek not Hebrew thought. I’ve heard that before. Could you peel that apart and explain that a bit more? And Luther’s quote about ‘this life is the mortification of the old adam/flesh’. That’s starting to make some sense.



PS: Bror, who is and what is this Dr. Murry dissertation?

Bror Erickson said...

It is Dr. Murray. I misspelled his name. He is a pastor at Memorial Lutheran in Houston. He has written a couple articles on this now. Mostly in Concordia Theological Quarterly. I don't know if any of his stuff is available on the net. Great man though.

Alexander said...

@ Pastor Bror, Perhaps I should have expanded on that thought. I agree that we can't choose how to use the law. Also function is a lot better word..

What I meant was that if you follow Paul's letters as letters there seems to be a way he writes the Law. For example Roman 1-3 is second use of the law it meant to kill and drive to Christ. Then in the middle Romans 4-11 paul talks about the gospel and its implication. Then at the end 12-16 Paul start writing about more law. But that this law writing has a different tone to it.

If you read Paul's letters as a whole it was always strange to me that Paul followed a law Gospel law style of writing. It makes more sense to me that Paul intended that second law writing to serve a different function.

@ Frank

Thanks for your answers I will have to digest then before I ask any more.

Also do you blog anywhere?

Bror Erickson said...

Sorry Alexander but I don't see this the same way. In fact at the first I see him writing about the law. almost a didactic teaching sort of way. And it almost isn't even law here yet. He is teaching with it about it etc. It isn't second use. If anything all he is doing here is telling them what their response to the law should be. He gets to law at the end of his letters. He expects them to do it. Some are going to hear it and be convicted, some are going to hear it and amend their lives, and it is all going to have different effects and the same effects on all the individuals. Second and third functions happening. But none of them are going to go away thinking they are thereby justified by following this admonishment.

Alexander said...

I'm confused why you would say anything about justification. Did I write something that made you think that I thought they would feel justifed by the admonishment?

I do get what you are saying but I feel you are down playing the law in the first several chapters of Romans.

Dr. Rob has described Romans three as the darkest chapter in all of the bible because it leaves man with no hope in himself.

More later I have to think about more.

Bror Erickson said...

No alexander I did not see you saying anythink about justification there, but that is the common pitfall and the reason so many are leary.

Frank Sonnek said...


1)"You mention something about reading these things in Greek not Hebrew thought. I’ve heard that before. Could you peel that apart and explain that a bit more? "

My understanding, and I am no expert here, is that the Hebrews regarded the entire man as unitary. no real separation between body and soul. The greeks are very eastern-religion in their approach. they make a huge deal about carnal vs small-s spiritual.

The scholastics tended to follow the greek school. In Roamns 8 therefore, they make a big deal of flesh vs spirit and miss the whole point. they take flesh to mean carnal, sexual, base,etc.

One of Luther´s important insights here was to see that flesh/body in romans 8, since it is contrasted to Spirit, means everthing that is not faith. Since faith is ALONE what endures, the everything else would be anything besides that, anything pertaining to our earthy existence, earthly righteousness!

Who but Luther could see that this "flesh/body" in romans 8 is actually god pleasing outward righteousness? amazing. This is what is behind "the just shall live by faith" being so important to Luther.

2) "And Luther’s quote about ‘this life is the mortification of the old adam/flesh’. That’s starting to make some sense."

Since faith is ALONE in the heavenly kingdom, and ALL ELSE is in the earthly kingdom, our earthly existence, ALL that the earthly existence is about is earthly outward righteousness that will perish, along with all who seek there life there, with the earth. But this earthly righteousness (mortification enabled Love) is how God works his will here among us on earth for our good. Here in this earthly existence/kingdom, faith is a counterfeit currency. It is vertical deviation of works done to please God, when our works, to truly please him, should be only pointed at our neighbor for his benefit.

We don´t do works here on earth to please God. we do them to make things better for our neighbor, and we know that doing THAT pleases God. mortification is what must be done to the Old Adam for him to be able to love his neighbor.

Luther´s sermon on two kinds of righteousness says that faith ALONE is in the heavenly kingdom. that means everything ELSE must be understood to be all in the earthly kingdom, the earthly life we live in. Here earthly righteousness is the legal tender.

earthly outward righteousness has exactly two elements: self-discipline (aka mortification) + Love. Love is actions that make the earthly lives of our neighbor better.

ALL the earthly blessings that you call "daily bread" is produced bY God, through man, here in this way. food drink house home family work faithful friends and employees etc etc.

if that was not clear, please feel free to redirect Larry. All this is in the luther sermon on the two kinds of righteousness along with Luther´s commentary on Galatians which you can find by googling.

Larry said...


VERY helpful! I appreciate that. I'm going to digest this and Luther's sermon a bit.

I appreciate that very much,


Larry said...

“Who but Luther could see that this "flesh/body" in Romans 8 is actually god pleasing outward righteousness? Amazing!”

WOW, that just hit me! THAT’s why Luther could see good works in so many things say our inherent pietism does not. Both good works as in “high end ones” if you will like helping my neighbor in time of need, and urgent moments like Haiti, but also in the mundane, eating, sleeping, marriage, day to day drudgery in a seemingly nothing job, fast food cook, etc… The not so “glimmery” works, the not so “church (meaning religious) yard list” and so forth. That seeing past the Greek category for flesh/spirit and unto the Hebrew unity earthly. That’s why Luther though one of the highest insightful theologians of the Cross in history is simultaneously very earth and very practical. Counter pose that with alllllllll the more or less Gnostic spirit like folks out there.

There was always this “Luther touches me practically in a real earthy I can ‘get it’ sense” that I never could have with many of my former denom. Pastors and their writers (e.g. Reformed, Baptist and Puritans). It was always in this what I call “gnosis spiritual misty I’m not sure how you reach/achieve it realm”. If you COULD some how achieve this, the later, then you might have assurance of salvation.

WOW, eye popping, Luther’s Roman’s 1 insight, on a new level!

WOW that is some strong Gospel news in a round about way! If I could dance (I pretty much look like a cow on skates trying to dance) I’d be dancing. Thanks, I think that made my day!!!


Frank Sonnek said...

"WOW, eye popping, Luther’s Roman’s 1 insight, on a new level!

WOW that is some strong Gospel news in a round about way! If I could dance (I pretty much look like a cow on skates trying to dance) I’d be dancing. Thanks, I think that made my day!!!


Indeed Larry. I have been a lutheran all my life. and i totally missed this critical point.

I also missed the simple point that Sanctification is defined, quite simply as the indwelling Christ. So we look to the Incarnate Christ not only as Example, but also to answer each and every question as to what Sanctification and it´s fruit is and is not. Does christ need encouragement or prodding or law to do God´s Will? of course not.

Just as we MUST sin because we are sinners, the meaning of MUST in our sanctication is the same Christ MUST do God´s Will. there the must can only mean simply a must that excludes choice or other option rather than a moral must that involves choice and willpower.

Frank Sonnek said...

I am trying to learn larry how to communicate this insight of luther to Lutherans and other christians so they "get it". it is exactly what is needed to correct the utter confusion lutherans have about the law and righteousness.

how can we help our reformed and evangelical bretheren if we ourselves are not clear on this?

Lutherans say there is only one TRUE righteousness. so they discount outward righteousness as being phoney or pharisaical.

Luther says at the beginning of his sermon that we will lose the "christ alone, faith alone" if we do not give outward righteousness it´s full due.

he is right. because we will then sneak good works into the doctrine of the Gospel rather than letting it be about inner and invisible faith alone. being a christian will then become inner faith PLUS something visible we do.

So paradoxically, defending grace alone means being clear that there IS a true god pleasing outward righteousness that includes everything utterly except that one invisible thing Christ and faith that connects us to that one thing.

Frank Sonnek said...

all the lutheran stuff about law good works and being a christian talks about keeping the law from "christian perspective" . this absolutely implies that there is only ONE kind of righteousness that pleases God. This is only partially true. or rather it is true as an isolated statement, but not in full context. This is wrong. and it screws with the Gospel as a result.

We often treat doctrinal points as stand alone truths that we can present independently or in any order. Paul and Luther are all about context and contrasts. We need to exercise the discipline of the form of sound doctrine. we need to study the methods and order in which paul and luther present each doctrine, and learn how to present things, and not just list the doctrines out of context or think we need to be creative to apply and make relevant old truth to present times.

There are TWO kinds of true righteousness. Romans 8:

one will die with the earth along with those who try to live by it,

and the other Righteousness will live forever along with those who live in that righteousness.

BOTH are true righteousness. BOTH please God.

Only one can save.

Frank Sonnek said...

So now you can fully agree with those who call upon st james, and agreeable point out the larger truth.

yes good works DO justify in making a man just in an early sense that will perish with the earth.

True outward righteousness is ALL about a horizontal acting in love to make the earthly life of our neighbor better. as soon as we aim our works vertically with the purpose being to please God, then our works become use-less to our neighbor and for that exact reason, they do not please God. they are idolatry and not god pleasing righteousness!

All talk of faith is FULLY excluded here. why? because faith is ALONE and FULLY included in that inner and invisible Righteousness: Christ.

so it cannot be anywhere found in that OUTER righteousness that is about our neighbor and truly pleasing to God.

but this outer righteousness will perish with the earth even though we should enthusiastically agree with James here about it being necessary. Indeed James makes our point: He says "SHOW me your faith, and I will show you my works". He is exactly making the same point here that faith, the ONLY thing that makes one christian IS invisible. The works he talks about are not that. and he also then is saying that to make works about some religious pleasing of God is USE-less! good works are all and only about helping widows and orphans and others in their earthly bodily distress.

There is a Righteousness however that will not perish. Jesus Christ is that righteousness. We don´t look to understand this in James. Different tools for different things eh? Both tools are good and useful.

Frank Sonnek said...

So now dear Larry, Saint James will become your friend and fast ally in pointing to that Righteousness that ALONE can save.

Larry said...

“So now dear Larry, Saint James will become your friend and fast ally in pointing to that Righteousness that ALONE can save.”

I might need a bit more elaboration on this.

Let me give you my main concern having NOT been a life long Lutheran and deeply entrenched in the torments of Reformed and Baptist religion. On that side of the aisle the BIG problem is the James 2:24 becomes the “spring board” for the “enumerated list” of “these here are good works” those over there are not. Rather it comes in a bit more Satanically like this, “yes those things you do over there (the mundane, etc…) while they are not sin…they are not as spiritual, high or to be elevated to the level of good works like this enumerated church box list (various from denomination to denomination and local church cult to local church cult”.

This is where I see two thing and did see/experience a RANK return a form of protestant Roman theology. Luther in his many sermons on good works, which goes back to my post this morning, always “fleshes” out these good works pretenders using the most mundane of works. Basically saying if you ask them (and he said this very thing, I’m paraphrasing from memory) if eating, sleeping, marrying, changing diapers, picking up a straw are good works the false teachers will say “no”, but rather defer to the “more spiritual list”. In his day that was things like prayer, fastings, monk and nun houses, etc… With the Anabaptist he saw the same thing going on as they withdrew either rebelliously or passively from society. In our day and age, definitely in Baptist realms and PCA realms I can say first hand, maybe in some Lutheran circles, you still get that “enumerated list” that is the “more spiritual” church yard list. And it’s never as stark as the mundane list is sin and the church list is not sin, but rather an insidious implied “yes, yes the mundane list is assumed and not “sin”, but this local church yard cult list is where the REAL spiritual good works are.”

The Satanic, and I use that word without reservation or apology, insidiousness of it is that it is not “black and white” as I said but “implied, insinuated, suggested, hinted at”.

For even Luther himself said it was a “straw epistle” meaning AT BEST of lesser value (many don’t realize what Luther meant by that term) and that it was not apostolic because to be apostolic it had to be as Christ commanded, “you shall bear witness of Me”.

That’s why I’m a bit recalcitrant at making James my Gospel buddy and definitely not putting it on the level of Paul and Romans. If backed into a corner and I have to “pick” my weapon Paul’s clarity wins hands down every time. There I can be sure of what the Gospel says, ole James I cannot be so certain of.

Perhaps this is an exercising of Paul’s warning in Galatians that even if an apostle (as Peter did too many times) or angel from heaven brings another gospel that is not a gospel, it is cursed. And as Luther also said if the Judas or the devil himself actually speaks the real Gospel, that I listen to. Or elsewhere as Luther states, ‘if they use the Scriptures against us, we will use Christ against the scriptures’. And that goes for ANY man or document. And that’s not dissuading Scripture’s authority but keeping, as you say, the right ORDER. The right context many attempt to keep but the right order is where the enthuised doctrines fail for they level and normalize everything so that NO order or an inverted order only exists.


Frank Sonnek said...


I am working on a detailed response to you that I will send you as a MS word attachment to an email. It is too long to post here.

I echo each and every one of your concerns in short.

James truly IS a straw "gospel". there is not one period that points to Christ. That is a good thing actually when we are talking about the true righteousness of outward works that please God.

Our task is to remove the subject of FAITH completely from any reading of James. James is about true god pleasing outward righteousness.

The righteousness he talks about will die with the earth along with those who actually think they can live by doing those things.

That is our goal in dealing with James.

We are to remove ALL talk of christ and faith and being a christian and what that is from any part of St James. and we need to be brutal in this. This is actually not a hard thing to do!

James is about being justified by works ALONE (being a truly just person in the earthly sense). This excludes faith. fully. lady justice holding a scale. who we are (ie christian) has no part in this fully biblical definition of earthly righteousness. This form of being truly just is ALL about things that can be measured on a scale. visible sense-ible stuff. Here on earth, justice needs to exclude nepotism or who someone is right? In the heavenly kingdom this gets turned completely on it´s head! in christ we are judged ONLY by who we are, what we do is irrelevant. this is not justice in any earthly sense of the word is it?

If inner Righteousness is faith ALONE, without works, then works are fully excluded.

What even Lutherans tend to miss is that there IS as biblical correlary to this fact: The reverse is also fully true then: if outward god-pleasing earthly righteousness is about works ALONE, then we need here to FULLY exclude all talk of faith or what it means to be a christian. Here christ and faith are FULLY excluded.

Ponder that. It is sort of a shock to us raised to think otherwise if we truly understand what this says.

Luther says that we will lose "christ alone" and "faith alone" if we do not understand that this is so. he says this at the start of his sermon on two kinds of righteousness.

Our goal with James then , is to drive this second point home. It is one even Lutherans are uncomfortable with since they tend to sneak works in under the heading of "sanctification". being christian then becomes: faith PLUS...

Pagans do better at the law than we christians do. Why? we turn the law into a moral exercise aimed at pleasing God. This is what the culture wars are really all about.

We then are useless to our neighbor, and so we don´t look loving because we aren´t according to Gods Word. and we do not please God.

Truly good outward works here on earth are earthly.

they are soley about making the life of our neighbor better, and have nothing at all to do with faith or Christ.

To drive this point home is our aim in guiding people through James. We are to remove all talk and connection to faith and Christ.

Larry said...


I look forward to it and truly appreciate it, because I know it takes time and patience to help people with this including myself.



Frank Sonnek said...

I know you do dear brother. the following revelations are new to me only within the past 4 months or so, and I have been lutheran all my life at 53 years! So I am excited as you are to see a way to untangle what looked to me like a hopeless knot within Lutheranism.

1)Lutherans err by thinking and talking about only one kind of god pleasing righteousness. You will not find a single lutheran article that tries to guide lutherans in this area,that does not therefore imply that there is some sort of special law for christians or somehow being christian has something to do with how we behave. We formally (almost) get it right. In application, we make sanctification into something we do. so works sneak into faith. they then, as luther predicted, sneak works into faith through sanctification. Steve martin made this clear with his article on the 3rd use error he found in the synodical catechism. this revelation is only about a month old!

2) law and gospel are the driver not the fruit. the dispute is over the fruit. so the discussion needs to be between two kinds of righteousness that are TRUE and god pleasing. Christ ALONE, escluding works, in Paul vs Outward true righteousness ALONE, excluding faith, in James.

3) in romans 8 flesh/body = everything that is not the nvisible righteousness of Christ Alone. So it includes outer righteousness and excludes faith.

4) Lutherans and evangelicals, at least formally, get Christ/faith alone. In practice they muddle because they don´t really accept the necessary correlary to this: Any talk of works by christian or pagan must be about works ALONE. all talk of faith and christ must be excluded since that is about faith ALONE.

This is quite clear in the culture wars where even I find myself objecting to things in civli society for religiously moral reasons. that is not true civic morality and it does not please God!

any discussion of homosexuals, abortion, separation of church and state etc etc, must ONLY be about true earthly comfort and never moral cure.

The test is not: "does god allow that?" the test is "does it better the lives of anyone and aid in my own self discipline and restraint (ie keep us from meddling in each other´s lives without a license to do so). It looks unreligious. practical. even immoral. condining. all that.

Larry said...


You asked a question a post or two back that I pondered on this weekend being both and ex Calvinistic SB then a Reformed (John Calvin) confessor myself. It was something like, “how can we communicate this to the Reformed” (by extension I take that to mean all the derivatives including Baptist).

I think it goes back to a fundamental problem regarding the sacraments that Sasse points out (paraphrasing) “if you get the sacraments wrong you will get the rest of Scripture wrong”. I know that was true even on a personal level with me.

1. If you somewhere in the chain be ye a RC, Reformed, Baptist or Arminian put or define the sacraments as works (Baptist), signs awaiting your work of faith (Calvin) or the vehicle for infused grace in order to get working (Rome) you already have false idea of both Law and Gospel and by extension a false idol you call “God”, “Christ”, the Christian faith, grace, etc… One does not really see the Gospel as it were.

2. Similar to this the problem is the same problem one has communicating to unbelievers in general, you have to destroy their idol as the Cross must do. Keep in mind that in Baptist and Reformed thought in one way or another their ultimate “sacrament”, that which and whereby they “know they are saved/elect/predestined/converted and think there is a gospel ‘pro me’ is in those secondary works (fruits) that either prove faith exists for real OR in the more closest to Luther Calvinist get types faith itself is THAT “sacramental” work. Shown this way: When the suffering conscience does not know if God has been gracious to them (pro me) and “am I elect”, these later Calvinist will say (trying to help), “do you believe these things (Christ alone, etc…)”. IF you can say “yes” to that then you are elect. That’s there LAST line of defense or “help” against this fiery trial from the devil. They do not see that “do I really have faith” IS the issue, they, thus, cannot simply GIVE you Christ but yet ask for the work of faith to assure one’s self. Thus, the “sacrament” of the Reformed and Baptist church in which a false “pro me” is said to exist or be is either in secondary works/fruits that indicate TRUE SAVING FAITH or faith itself and NEVER the sacraments nakedly themselves.

Does that help?


Larry said...

The other problem, in Calvinistic thought, is the once saved can’t fall away paradigm. We must remember ALWAYS that in that paradigm there is no such thing as a “deadly sin” once you “cross over the line” of conversion for sure and in truth. Thus, a “third use” of the law must arise that differs from the “none Christian uses”. What need be there to continually “drive to Christ” if I slide into home plate? The first and second uses of the Law become more or less pointless and inapplicable to me, thus only another use can be devised!


Larry said...


I finally got around to reading Luther’s sermon you linked to, twice. WONDERFUL sermon, a lot packed in it!

I think I’m getting to seeing some of what you are getting at on this earthly versus heavenly righteousness distinction. I’ve been going back to Luther’s HD and you really see it there too. Reading that sermon and putting together some of what Luther speaks to concerning just how a theologian of glory sees God operate in the world versus a theologian of the Cross is eye opening in a way. For example natural disasters a theologian of glory reads it like say Pat Robertson and says, “God is punishing you to get your life right” mingling the two types of righteousness that Luther distinguishes SHARPLY. In that sermon Luther says something regarding earthly righteousness and bring plagues, war and pestilence that at first blow, with a ToG background, sounds to support such ToG…but nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ll give it a try, peel that apart a bit more:

Luther comments not as a theologian of glory but theologian of the cross concerning earthly righteousness that when a nation or group at length becomes so corrupt that earthly ministers of earthly righteousness (as opposed to faith/Gospel, that which is right and good among men in general, good society, peace, etc…) can no longer subdue the over flowing overt wickedness of that society that God sends plague, war and disaster. This differs from say a false teacher like Pat Robertson in this way: false teachers say such to drive men to improve their lives before God with an eye toward heavenly righteousness (which is alone Christ alone) and thus they preach another gospel, in short they confound earthly and heavenly righteousness, in a similar fashion in which they confound Law and Gospel ALL THE TIME whose end product is ALWAYS another gospel. What Luther is saying is just the opposite BECAUSE HE MAKES A STRONG DISTINCTION between earthly righteousness (general good and welfare in this dying world that helps mitigate suffering) and heavenly (Christ alone for us nothing more). That such, plagues, disasters and war comes not so you’ll “clean your act up so God will like/save you” (the other false gospel of false teachers), but rather (1) drive us to Christ AND (2) restore something of earthly righteousness that yields some peace in this life for us so that rank evil does not rule the day.