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Luther’s Catechism

 

“Lord, help us ever to retain

The Catechism’s doctrine plain

As Luther taught the Word of Truth

In simple style to tender youth.”

Ludwig Helmbod, “Lord, Help Us Ever to Retain,” trans. Matthia Loy, The Lutheran Hymnal, #288, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chapter Five: Justification by Faith

 

Orthodoxism Defined by Melville

 

J-501

“There’s a most doleful and most mocking funeral! The sea-vultures all in pious mourning, the air-sharks all punctiliously in black or speckled. In life but few of them would have helped the whale, I ween, if peradventure he had needed it; but upon the banquet of his funeral they most piously do pounce. Oh, horrible vulturism of earth! From which not the mightiest whale is free. Nor is this the end. Desecrated as the body is, a vengeful ghost survives and hovers over it to scare. Espied by some timid man-of-war or blundering discovery-vessel from afar, when the distance obscuring the swarming fowls, nevertheless still shows the white mass floating in the sun, and the white spray heaving high against it; straightway the whale’s unharming corpse, with trembling fingers is set down in the log—shoals, rocks, and breakers hereabout: beware! And for years afterwards, ships shun the place; leaping over it as silly sheep leap over a vacuum, because their leader originally leaped there when a stick was held. There’s your law of precedents; there’s your utility of traditions; there’s the story of your obstinate survival of old beliefs never bottomed on the earth, and now not even hovering in the air! There’s orthodoxy!”

            Herman Melville, Moby Dick; or, The Whale, Norwalk: The Easton Press, 1977, Chapter 69, “The Funeral,” p. 329f.[1]

 

Introduction:

Lutherans Abandon Justification by Faith

 

The quotation above from Moby Dick perfectly describes not orthodoxy, but orthodoxism, the dead shell of a living faith, the recited phrases from memorized notes in dogmatics class in seminary. Lutherans were once known for teaching justification by faith. However, the last century has seen an erosion in the article on which the Church stands or falls, a fear of openly discussing the topic, and a papistic censure by conservative Lutheran clergy against laymen who ask questions about justification. One pastor announced solemnly in print, in a confessional Lutheran journal, that the laity dare not get involved in the discussion about justification. Another pastor visited the in-laws of one sincere Lutheran and threatened them with expulsion for the questioning attitude of their son-in-law, who lived in another state! Other clergy are frightened about the possibility of conflict among Lutherans, as if a false peace could be maintained by silence. They act as if Christian doctrine were a soufflé that would collapse if we spoke too loudly.

 

 

J-502

"This article concerning justification by faith (as the Apology says) is the chief article in the entire Christian doctrine,[2] without which no poor conscience can have any firm consolation, or can truly know the riches of the grace of Christ, as Dr. Luther also has written: If this only article remains pure on the battlefield, the Christian Church also remains pure, and in goodly harmony and without any sects; but if it does not remain pure, it is not possible that any error or fanatical spirit can be resisted. (Tom. 5, Jena, p. 159.) And concerning this article especially Paul says that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #6, Righteous of Faith before God, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 917. Tappert, p. 540. Heiser, p. 250.

 

This chapter was promised to a number of people in the hopes that some questions can be discussed without rancor by providing the basis for justification by faith in the Scriptures, in Luther, and in the Book of Concord. Drafts of this chapter were sent to various Lutheran pastors and laity, some known for favoring the term Objective Justification, others known for opposing the term. Comments and constructive criticism came from all the readers.[3] I have attempted to portray the various perspectives fairly with an abundance of quotations. The initial responses from readers have helped me clarify and revise the chapter.[4]

One aspect of the use of authority needs to be noted. Even though I use many different Luther quotations from various sources throughout this book, we must give prominence to Luther in the Book of Concord, for a variety of reasons. Luther developed as a theologian and wrote an incredible amount of material. Although he remains the greatest Biblical teacher of all time, he began as a Medieval scholastic, as he admitted more than once. In addition, some Luther material comes from sources of uneven reliability, such as the Table Talks. The Confessors of the Book of Concord chose the authoritative Luther material, saying in effect, “This is what we believe as orthodox Lutherans.”

We cannot take Luther’s private writings, such as letters or the transcribed Table Talks, and interpret Luther in the Book of Concord according to those examples we have arbitrarily chosen. There is no end to the mischief that can be accomplished with such tactics. We need to take the Book of Concord seriously if we claim to have a quia subscription to the Lutheran Symbols. More than once I have heard a Lutheran pastor say, when excusing his lack of knowledge of the Confessions, “I prefer Jesus to Luther,” as if the Reformer argued against the Gospel or set up an alien dogma. In addition, some have advanced their causes on the basis of their own authority within their tiny slice of American Lutheranism, suggesting by their attitude that the Book of Concord is subordinate to their current political position. Thus the conservative Lutherans have negated the unifying value of the Confessions by neglecting them and bending them to the shape of their agenda.

In my collection of out of print Lutheran books is The Error of Missouri, 1897, a partisan book by F. W. Stellhorn, F. A. Schmidt, and former members of the Missouri Synod. R. C. H. Lenski translated the Stellhorn contribution. The book simply assumes the authority of the Formula of Concord authors and the orthodox fathers who were trained by them. One can hardly imagine the same kind of book being printed these days, a doctrinal argumentation naming dozens of theologians forgotten and unpublished today, except for the amazing efforts of Pastor James Heiser through his Repristination Press.[5] Today, the fruit of the seminaries that published The Error of Missouri—Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Trinity Seminary in Columbus, both ELCA schools now—would not know what to say about the theologians quoted. The conservative seminaries of the ELS, LCMS, and WELS are more likely to cite George Barna or Fuller faculty members as authorities than they would Lutherans of any persuasion.[6]

This chapter falls into seven main sections:

The Introduction

  1. The Biblical terms
  2. Justification by faith in the Book of Concord
  3. The Kokomo Error in WELS
  4. The Missouri Synod CTCR document promoting Objective Justification
  5. Summary of justification and chart
  6. Appendix: Synonyms in the New Testament for atonement

 

Two Views of Justification

There are two main categories of thought about justification today:

First of all, the traditional view, justification by faith, is taught by the Holy Spirit and expounded by Dr. Martin Luther in the Book of Concord as well as by David Chytraeus and Martin Chemnitz, Concordists. The traditional view teaches the universal atonement of Christ as the source of forgiveness, the efficacy of the Law in producing contrition, the efficacious Gospel in Word and Sacrament as the means of distributing God’s grace, and the necessity of faith in receiving God’s promises. Justification is used only in the sense of justification by faith in the individual and is never confused with reconciliation.

Secondly, a rival version of justification claims its authority from the orthodox theologians who followed the Book of Concord era, but it really centers on the language of C. F. W. Walther, Francis Pieper, George Stoeckhardt, and other Missouri Synod authors, who were influenced by Calov.[7] The Missouri Synod has taught, and continues to teach, two justifications, one without faith, another with faith. In this view, considerable emphasis is placed upon Romans 4:25, the resurrection of Christ as “God’s declaration of forgiveness for the whole world.” This is called “objective justification” and less frequently “general justification,” in contrast to “subjective justification,” when the individual receives the Gospel in faith. Theologians use 2 Corinthians 5:19ff. to defend two justifications, although reconciliation rather than justification is used throughout the passage.[8] Although proponents of two justifications cheerfully admit that their terminology is absent from the Book of Concord, they insist their new teaching protects against false doctrine! Their writings suggest the same philosophy as Roman Catholicism, offering up a new and unwritten doctrine, passed on through bishops and theologians and finally revealed to us at the end of the ages. Thus we have the same kind of doctrinal error whether it is the Roman Catholic Immaculate Conception of Mary or the Wisconsin Synod’s guilt-free saints in Hell.

Kokomo justification is an extreme interpretation of the Walther/Pieper version, ossified around the writings of J. P. Meyer, who was trained at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Kokomo justification is not different in substance from the Walther/Pieper error, but more obvious in revealing its false assumptions. In fairness to Meyer, the denomination has gone even farther than his Ministers in Christ. In the WELS Easter 2000 media campaign, a woman says to the entire audience, believers and unbelievers alike, “I am saved through Christ. So are you!” Apparently, some roadside billboards have a similar message, something like, “You are saved through Christ!”—a strange message for the Mormon, Hindu, and Wikka on their way to work in the morning. Few commercials on television can compete with the attention-getting crudity of one of the WELS commercials, beginning with, “I am sick of poopy diapers.”[9] In the current WELS view, the effect of the Holy Spirit working through the Law and Gospel to bring about contrition for sin and faith in the Gospel is ignored in favor of an emphasis on “universal justification,” which equals forgiveness without faith. The efficacy of the Word in the Means of Grace is forgotten. The result is a mixture of Universalism and Baptist decision theology.[10]

 

J-503

“Not guilty—period. God’s court doesn’t work that way either. God, our judge, has pronounced his verdict over us: Not guilty—period. We’ve been declared innocent of the crime of sin, free from the penalty of eternal death, all because Jesus took our place under God’s justice and paid every penalty we ever owed. And to demonstrate his verdict just as dramatically and convincingly as possible, God raised Jesus from the dead. “He was raised to life for our justification,” (Romans 4:25). That means Jesus rose to prove we are justified. Acquitted. Not guilty.”

            Pastor Ken Cherney (WELS), “The Surprising Verdict,” Northwestern Lutheran, August, 1998.


 

Part Two: The Bible

 

A. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 – One For Another - katallage

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

 

BYZ 2 Corinthians 5:18 ta. de. pa,nta evk tou/ qeou/ tou/ katalla,xantoj h`ma/j e`autw/| dia. Vihsou/ Cristou/ kai. do,ntoj h`mi/n th.n diakoni,an th/j katallagh/j 19 w`j o[ti qeo.j h=n evn Cristw/| ko,smon katalla,sswn e`autw/| mh. logizo,menoj auvtoi/j ta. paraptw,mata auvtw/n kai. qe,menoj evn h`mi/n to.n lo,gon th/j katallagh/j 20 u`pe.r Cristou/ ou=n presbeu,omen w`j tou/ qeou/ parakalou/ntoj di h`mw/n\ deo,meqa u`pe.r Cristou/ katalla,ghte tw/| qew/| 21 to.n ga.r mh. gno,nta a`marti,an u`pe.r h`mw/n a`marti,an evpoi,hsen i[na h`mei/j genw,meqa dikaiosu,nh qeou/ evn auvtw/|.

 

Without doubt the issue of justification revolves around the way in which reconciliation is understood in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Although other passages are used to defend the Kokomo justification error and the Missouri Synod version of the same error, this citation is the linchpin in the argument that God pronounced the world innocent of sin and gave His absolution to all people, whether they believe in Christ or not. We need a proper understanding of reconciliation, a term whose use is almost completely confined to this chapter of 2 Corinthians and Romans 5. All the uses of the noun and verb (to reconcile, reconciliation, atonement) make up a short list.

  1. Romans 5:10-11
  2. Romans 11:5
  3. 1 Corinthians 7:11 (marriage)
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

 

First, we should notice what is lacking in the 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 passage: a verdict that the entire world is innocent.

 

J-504

"We do not find the idea that Paul here says that when Christ died, when in and by His death God reconciled the world objectively, He then and there (or at the time of Christ's resurrection) forgave all sins to the whole world. Auvtoi/j (Autois) = individuals and refers to their subjective reconciliation. The use so often made of this passage should be modified. On the question of universal and personal justification consult the author's Interpretation of Romans, 5:10, also 1:17.”

R. C. H. Lenski, Corinthians, Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1946, p. 1048. 2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 5:10; Romans 1:17.

 

J-505

“The resurrection and life of Jesus Christ is a cause, that is, an efficacious means of our spiritual resurrection and spiritual life; for it causes us to believe and to rise (from sin), as we read in 10:9: ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ In Christ’s death we die unto spiritual life, as we read in 6:3-4: ‘So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death (that) we also should walk in newness of life.’”

            Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore Mueller, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1954, p. 93. Romans 5:10.

 

Justification, as we will see later, is God’s declaration of innocence for the individual who believes in the Gospel. Justification is a legal term. Righteousness is a similar word in Greek, but not identical. We receive the righteousness of God through Christ, because we are justified by faith. Justification is properly called a divine verdict of innocence, but we must distinguish between terms that are not identical. The Scriptures do indeed reveal to us that the Son of God accomplished everything for our salvation on the cross, but that reconciliation is not the same as the justification by faith of man before God (coram Deo) through the preaching of the Gospel.

The Greek word for reconciliation or atonement, katalla,ssw (katallaso), was used for exchanging coins of equal value.

 

J-506

“Here Paul uses one of his great doctrinal words, katallasso, old word for exchanging coins.”

            A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures of the New Testament, 7 vols., Nashville: Broadman Press, 1931, IV, pp. 127, 232.

 

J-507

kat-alla,ssw (katallaso), Att…to change money, Plut., etc.; and so in Med., Dem.:—to exchange one thing for another, Plat. II. To change a person from enmity to friendship, reconcile, Hdt., N.T…”

Lidell and Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964, p. 410.

 

Paul used the same term, reconciliation, for repairing a fractured marriage. For a husband and wife to reconcile, there would be a necessary change of heart, not only on the guilty person’s part but also for the other to forgive. Although the relationship between God and man is not exactly the same, the apostle also compared the love of Christ for the Church to a groom’s love for his bride.[11]

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 7:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 7:11 eva.n de. kai. cwrisqh/| mene,tw a;gamoj h' tw/| avndri. katallagh,tw kai. a;ndra gunai/ka mh. avfie,na.

 

We can certainly see that kind of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians, although the relationship between God and man can never be exactly the same as between two persons. God does not change, but His relationship with man is different because of the atoning death of Christ. God has provided the remedy for alienation caused by sin by giving His only-begotten Son. A man who knows nothing of the Law has no concept of sin and experiences no need for a Savior. However, when he hungers for righteousness, the Word of reconciliation tells him that the crucified Messiah has taken upon Himself all of his sins. The man whose sins are forgiven loves God Who first loved him. The reconciliation is true for all time, whether anyone believes in the atoning death of Christ or not. The conversion of the unbeliever into a new creation who is declared forgiven—that is justification by faith.

The concept of reconciliation clearly dominates the 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 passage, since it appears five times in various forms. Therefore, if we misunderstand the concept, we misunderstand the passage as well. Some argue about whether God or man is changed in this passage.[12] The Holy Spirit has used a word for exchange in this passage and has also explained the concept as an exchange, sin for righteousness. Therefore, God’s relationship with man is changed by the sacrificial death of Christ. Man without Christ is doomed to die because of sin. The believer no longer has the same status before God, because Christ has taken his sin in exchange for His righteousness. Just as the repentant spouse returns with the hope of forgiveness, so the sinner longs for healing in the sight of God. His wrath remains upon unbelievers, but whoever believes in Christ Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life. The forgiven sinner knows well the meaning of the hymn below.

 

J-508

“As pants the hart for cooling streams,

When heated in the chase,

So longs my soul O God, for Thee,

And Thy refreshing grace.”

Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady, “As pants the hart,” #525, The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.

 

The first two verses of this passage are loved by Universalists of every denomination. If we cite the first two verses alone, 2 Corinthians 5:19-20, it does seem as if a God without wrath sent a Christ without a cross to a world without sin. Some verses in the Scriptures avoid the pitfall of a limited atonement, the Calvinistic doctrine of Christ dying only for the elect. This is one such example, and we can find many more examples. Christ died for the sins of the whole world, for all time, for all people, for all sins except the sin against the Holy Spirit.[13]

B. Not imputing their trespasses, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

This phrase, “not imputing their trespasses against them,” is doubtless the key to the false equation of reconciliation and justification.

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 5: 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

 

BYZ 2 Corinthians 5: 18 ta. de. pa,nta evk tou/ qeou/ tou/ katalla,xantoj h`ma/j e`autw/| dia. Vihsou/ Cristou/ kai. do,ntoj h`mi/n th.n diakoni,an th/j katallagh/j 19 w`j o[ti qeo.j h=n evn Cristw/| ko,smon katalla,sswn e`autw/| mh. logizo,menoj auvtoi/j ta. paraptw,mata auvtw/n kai. qe,menoj evn h`mi/n to.n lo,gon th/j katallagh/j.

 

J-509

"Nowhere in the Bible is any man constituted or declared righteous ‘without faith, before faith.’”

R. C. H. Lenski, Romans, Augsburg Publishing House: Minneapolis, 1963, p. 382. Romans 5:19-20.

The verb “impute” is used frequently in the New Testament in terms of counting, reckoning, thinking, and considering. In this verse an alternative translation would be “not counting their sins against them.” When a passage is difficult to understand or has been made obscure from disputes, the best way to interpret the passage is through other Biblical passages that may shed light on it. Although we may be tempted to fault God for allowing difficulties to arise in these disputes, His will is accomplished when we return to the Scriptures again and again for certainty, clarity, and confidence in His gracious will.[14] Therefore, one question we must ask the text is this: “How is this verb used in connection with reckoning (imputing) righteousness or sin?”

 

Romans 4:22-25

KJV Romans 4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

 

BYZ Romans 4:22 dio. kai. evlogi,sqh auvtw/| eivj dikaiosu,nhn 23  Ouvk evgra,fh de. di auvto.n mo,non o[ti evlogi,sqh auvtw/| 24  avlla. kai. di h`ma/j oi-j me,llei logi,zesqai toi/j pisteu,ousin evpi. to.n evgei,ranta VIhsou/n to.n ku,rion h`mw/n evk nekrw/n 25  o]j paredo,qh dia. ta. paraptw,mata h`mw/n kai. hvge,rqh dia. th.n dikai,wsin h`mw/n

 

In this passage, imputing is used three times, and only through faith.[15] In modern English the word “impute” is not as clear as “counted.” Many examples from the New Testament are listed below. Romans 4 establishes Abraham as the father of faith rather than as the father of circumcision. In fact, Romans 4 could be called the imputing chapter as well as the faith chapter. The conclusion of the chapter uses the verb in question only with regard to faith. Righteousness is reckoned only through faith, not to Abraham alone, but to everyone who believes in Him Who raised Jesus from the dead. Because Romans 4:25 is a sedes doctrinae (seat of doctrine) for the Objective Justification advocates, one would expect the Book of Concord to advocate justification without faith and to equate reconciliation and justification. Every Lutheran who teaches Objective Justification is a member of a synod with a quia subscription to the Book of Concord. Each man, then, believes that the Book of Concord is the ruled norm of faith and practice, a correct exposition of the Bible. Below is a correct exposition of Romans 4:25, teaching that Jesus died to reconcile the Father with us and was raised to justify believers. All those who teach otherwise are guilty of false doctrine, according to their own subscription to the Lutheran Symbols.

C. Romans 4:25 – Justification by Faith

 

J-510

"The Third Article the adversaries approve, in which we confess that there are in Christ two natures, namely, a human nature, assumed by the Word into the unity of His person; and that the same Christ suffered and died to reconcile the Father to us; and that He was raised again to reign, and to justify and sanctify believers, etc., according to the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, III. #52. Of Christ, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 119. Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:19ff. Tappert, p. 107. Heiser, p. 32.

 

Examples of Imputing/Reckoning

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:19…not imputing their trespasses unto them….

 

BYZ 2 Corinthians 5:19… e`autw/| mh. logizo,menoj auvtoi/j ta. paraptw,mata auvtw/n kai. qe,menoj evn h`mi/n to.n lo,gon th/j katallagh/j

 

KJV Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

 

BYZ Romans 4:3 ti, ga.r h` grafh. le,gei VEpi,steusen de. VAbraa.m tw/| qew/| kai. evlogi,sqh auvtw/| eivj dikaiosu,nhn.

 

KJV Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

 

BYZ Romans 4:4 tw/| de. evrgazome,nw| o` misqo.j ouv logi,zetai kata. ca,rin avlla. kata. ovfei,lhma

 

KJV Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

 

BYZ Romans 4:5 tw/| de. mh. evrgazome,nw| pisteu,onti de. evpi. to.n dikaiou/nta to.n avsebh/ logi,zetai h` pi,stij auvtou/ eivj dikaiosu,nhn

 

KJV Romans 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

 

BYZ Romans 4:6 kaqa,per kai. Daui.d le,gei to.n makarismo.n tou/ avnqrw,pou w-| o` qeo.j logi,zetai dikaiosu,nhn cwri.j e;rgwn

 

KJV Romans 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

 

BYZ Romans 4:8 maka,rioj avnh.r w-| ou- mh. logi,shtai ku,rioj a`marti,an.

 

KJV Romans 4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

 

BYZ Romans 4:9 o` makarismo.j ou=n ou-toj evpi. th.n peritomh.n h' kai. evpi. th.n avkrobusti,an le,gomen ga,r o[ti VElogi,sqh tw/| VAbraa.m h` pi,stij eivj dikaiosu,nhn.

 

KJV Romans 4:10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

 

BYZ Romans 4:10 pw/j ou=n evlogi,sqh evn peritomh/| o;nti h' evn avkrobusti,a| ouvk evn peritomh/| avll evn avkrobusti,a|\

 

KJV Romans 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

 

BYZ Romans 4:11 kai. shmei/on e;laben peritomh/j sfragi/da th/j dikaiosu,nhj th/j pi,stewj th/j evn th/| avkrobusti,a| eivj to. ei=nai auvto.n pate,ra pa,ntwn tw/n pisteuo,ntwn di avkrobusti,aj eivj to. logisqh/nai kai. auvtoi/j th.n dikaiosu,nhn.

 

Lutherans consider Romans to be the greatest book of Christian doctrine among the Pauline epistles, if not in the entire Bible. Romans 4 addresses the issue of imputing righteousness only through faith. Is it possible that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write 2 Corinthians 5:19 about an imputation of righteousness without faith—for the entire unbelieving world? To equate reconciliation with justification requires a freezing of one phrase, isolating it from the rest of the verse in the sentence. In the same verse, 2 Corinthians 5:19, we find the “Word of reconciliation.” This Word is nothing other than the Gospel, the message of the universal atonement. The central message of the universal atonement preserves the Gospel from Calvinistic limited atonement. The Word of reconciliation guards against Universalism. However, in both cases, the false teachers peer through a colored glass filter and see only the color of their sectarian talking points. Worse, they quote one another, making their fellow errorists into authorities while supplanting the Biblical text and the Book of Concord. How are they different from the Romanists who cite the dreams and visions of obscure saints to buttress their arguments against the Scriptures? This is just as true of the Universal Justification advocates as it is of the genuine Calvinists. One may use a red filter and the other a green filter, but the results are quite similar.

 

J-511

"True, Christ died for all (aorist), v. 14, 15 three times), and in that sense the whole world has been reconciled to God; if that were all that is here meant, we should have had another aorist. But Paul means more. He has in mind especially the subjective fact of the reconciliation as he does in v. 18 where he speaks only about 'us.' God is ever busy with this feature, namely transforming enemies into friends. Hence we have the present participles: 'engaged in reconciling Himself, engaged in not reckoning to them their transgressions.' This work goes right on, it is now in progress."

R. C. H. Lenski, Corinthians, Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1946, p. 1043. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.

 

D. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

The second two verses, 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, do not provide any comfort for the Universalists. God is asking through Paul and Paul is begging: “Be reconciled to God.” If God has declared the world to be without sin, no begging is needed and the reconciliation is already accomplished by divine fiat. However, this false idea is not what the apostle wrote. He portrayed the exchange vividly in the simplest words. God made Him Who was sinless to be sin for our sakes, that we might become the righteousness of God. This righteousness is entirely God’s work and takes effect in individuals through the Means of Grace, the Word of reconciliation.

 

J-512

"God is the agent who is named as the agent no less than twice in v. 18, 19. This is subjective justification. No man can produce it in himself even to the least fraction. God must do so by His word of the reconciliation (v. 19). The dative tw/| qew/ (to theo) is the e`autw/ (eauto), 'to Himself,' which was used twice in v. 18, 19: 'God reconciles to Himself.' The synergistic reasoning is fallacious that, since God tells men to be reconciled, men must have the ability to obey. The imperative is passive; it does not say: 'Reconcile yourselves to God!' 'Turn thou me, and I shall be turned.' Jeremiah 31:18. Reconcile thou me, and I shall be reconciled! Every gospel imperative is full of the divine power of grace to effect what it demands. If it counted on even the least power in the sinner it would never secure the last effect. Jesus calls this the Father's drawing (John 6:44; 6:65; 12:32)...Thank God for the passive verb."

R. C. H. Lenski, Corinthians, Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1946, p. 1050f. 2 Corinthians 5:20; Jeremiah 31:18; John 6:44-45.

 

Two things are quite apparent from a study of this passage:

1.     The reconciliation passage is in perfect harmony with our confession in the Large Catechism (J-545) – a. the atoning death of Christ is our treasure, b. the treasure is distributed to individuals through the Word of reconciliation and received in faith. See Part Three of this chapter.

2.     Christ has accomplished all that is necessary for our forgiveness through His cross and resurrection, but that is not the same as a verdict of universal absolution, given to all men, whether they believe or not.

The perfect harmony of the Scriptures can also be seen in the marvelous parallel to this passage in John 3:16. The Little Gospel also emphasizes the universal aspect of the sacrifice, in that “God so loved the world” and not, as Calvin would have us believe, “God so loved the elect.” In a few words, the Fourth Gospel also teaches justification by faith, for “whosoever believeth shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

 

KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

BYZ John 3:16 Ou[twj ga.r hvga,phsen o` qeo.j to.n ko,smon w[ste to.n ui`o.n auvtou/ to.n monogenh/ e;dwken i[na pa/j o` pisteu,wn eivj auvto.n mh. avpo,lhtai avll e;ch| zwh.n aivw,nion.

E. Reconciliation in Romans

 

KJV Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

 

BYZ Romans 5:10 eiv ga.r evcqroi. o;ntej kathlla,ghmen tw/| qew/| dia. tou/ qana,tou tou/ ui`ou/ auvtou/ pollw/| ma/llon katallage,ntej swqhso,meqa evn th/| zwh/| auvtou/\

 

J-513

"The instant Christ died the whole world of sinners was changed completely. It was now a world for whose sin atonement had been made and no longer a world with unatoned sins. Let us note right here that, whereas Christ died 1,900 years ago, His death was ever effective (Revelation 13:8). His atonement and the reckoning are valid for the universe of men. Even all the damned in hell were thus reconciled to God. Not as men who were never reconciled are they damned but as men who spurned God's reconciliation through Christ."[16]

R. C. H. Lenski, Romans, Augsburg Publishing House: Minneapolis, 1963 p. 353. Romans 5:10.

 

Those who teach universal justification find Romans 5, the Justification by Faith chapter, a rich trove for their theories in spite of all the textual evidence against their peculiar position. It reminds me of the many Biblical scholars I studied, who would look at the actual text and ask, “What is the kernel of truth hidden in this verse?” The core truth was usually the opposite of the plain meaning of the text. The more people try to show these Objective Justification men the clear truths of Scripture, the more verses they find in support of two justifications, as Luther noted below about all false teachers.

 

J-514

"They [the false teachers] fared like a man who looks through a colored glass. Put before such a man whatever color you please, he sees no other color than that of the glass. The fault is not that the right color is not put before him but that his glass is colored differently, as the word of Is. 6:9 puts it: You will see, he says, and yet you will not see it."

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 644. Isaiah 6:9.

 

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” can only mean that God took the action which brought about our new relationship to Him. As Luther taught in all his writings, we do not come to God, but God comes to us. Once again, the same pattern of thought is followed: first, what God has accomplished through Christ; second, what God accomplishes in us through the Word…much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

 

KJV Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

 

BYZ Romans 5:11 ouv mo,non de, avlla. kai. kaucw,menoi evn tw/| qew/| dia. tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/ di ou- nu/n th.n katallagh.n evla,bomen.

 

Romans 5:11 continues the consistent pattern of reconciliation first as being the universal datum of God’s work, secondly as the Good News being received through faith. The King James Version uses atonement for the second mention of reconciliation in two verses. This meaning is the key difference that eludes those who continue to repeat what their in-house synodical authorities tell them. The Bible does not give us two justifications. First the Word speaks of the reconciliation accomplished by God in Christ. When we use the term atonement or the verb to atone, the emphasis falls upon what God has done. Secondly, the text teaches us about the Word of reconciliation preached to everyone. Reconciliation is properly equated with atonement, but not with justification. Reconciliation and atonement concern what God has done for the entire world, while justification is God’s declaration of forgiveness received in faith, that is, grasping the Word of reconciliation

 

KJV Romans 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

 

BYZ Romans 11:15 eiv ga.r h` avpobolh. auvtw/n katallagh. ko,smou ti,j h` pro,slhyij eiv mh. zwh. evk nekrw/n.

 

In Romans 11:15, casting away the Jews who do not believe in Christ is equated with the reconciliation of the world, while receiving the message is life out of death. The Gospel of reconciliation hardens the hearts of unbelieving Jews but gives life to the those who receive the Word of reconciliation. Today, since we have so many secret unbelievers among the Lutheran clergy, we must also assume that there are secret believers among the Jews, who have heard the Gospel and believe in the promised Messiah.[17] The Bible has only two categories for people, since all are sinners: believers and unbelievers. Belivers enjoy the promises and benefits of the Gospel of forgiveness. Unbelievers do not.

 

KJV John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

 

BYZ John 6:37 Pa/n o] di,dwsi,n moi o` path.r pro.j evme. h[xei kai. to.n evrco,menon pro.j me ouv mh. evkba,lw e;xw.

 

The treasure analogy from the Large Catechism harmonizes (J-520) perfectly with the Colossians 1:20.[18] In making peace through the blood of the cross, God established a great treasure, the source of all forgiveness, reconciling all things to Himself. All of Creation—the ordinary world and the world of angels— was changed by the cross,. The Colossians, who were divorced from God and enemies of God by their mental sins and evil works, were reconciled by the atoning death of Christ. Through faith the Colossians received the righteousness of Christ, so that they were holy (saints), unblemished (like Christ, 1 Peter 1:19), and blameless.

 

J-515

"In like manner Moses must precede and teach people to feel their sins in order that grace may be sweet and welcome to them. Therefore all is in vain, however friendly and lovely Christ may be pictured, if man is not first humbled by a knowledge of himself and he possesses no longing for Christ, as Mary's Song says, 'The hungry he hath filled with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away,' Luke 1:53."

Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 149. Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 1:53.

 

J-516

"The apostle says 'our,' 'our sins;' not his own sin, not the sins of unbelievers. Purification is not for, and cannot profit, him who does not believe. Nor did Christ effect the cleansing by our free-will, our reason or power, our works, our contrition or repentance, these all being worthless in the sight of God; he effects it by himself. And how? By taking our sins upon himself on the holy cross, as Isaiah 53:6 tells us."

Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 180. Hebrews 1:1-12; Hebrews 1:3.

 

J-517

"Christ is speaking here not of the word of the law, but of the Gospel, which is a discourse about Christ, who died for our sins, etc. For God did not wish to impart Christ to the world in any other way; He had to embody Him in the Word and thus distributed Him, and present Him to everybody; otherwise Christ would have existed for Himself alone and remained unknown to us; he would have thus died for himself. But since the Word places before us Christ, it thus places us before Him who has triumphed over death, sin, and Satan. Therefore, he who grasps and retains Christ, has thus also eternal deliverance from death. Consequently it is a Word of life, and it is true, that whoever keeps the Word shall never see death."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 177. John 8:46-59.

 

J-518

"To this incline your ears, and be persuaded that God speaks through men and forgives you your sins; this, of course, requires faith."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 200.

 

J-519

"If I do not believe it, I will not receive its benefits; but that neither renders it false nor proves that anything is lacking in Christ."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 258. Easter, Third Sermon. Mark 16:1-8.

 

J-520

"It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through Him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies yet in one pile; it is not yet distributed nor invested. Consequently, if we are to possess it, the Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe and say: I, too, am one of those who are to have this treasure. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given the treasure to us, everything goes well, and it cannot be otherwise than that man's heart rejoices in God and lifts itself up, saying: Dear Father, if it is Thy will to show toward me such great love and faithfulness, which I cannot fully fathom, then will I also love Thee with all my heart and be joyful, and cheerfully do what pleases Thee. Thus, the heart does not now look at God with evil eyes, does not imagine He will cast us into hell, as it did before the HS came...."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 279. Pentecost Sunday. John 14:23-31.

 

J-521

"All who are born into the world of man and woman are sinful under God's anger and curse, condemned to death. For all are conceived and born in sin as Scripture testifies (Psalm 51:5): 'Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.'"

Sermons of Martin Luther, The House Postils, 3 vols., ed., Eugene Klug, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996, II, p. 26. Easter Tuesday. Luke 24:13-35; Psalm 51:5.

 

J-522

"The 'rod of His mouth' signifies the spoken Word or the Gospel, which proceeds from the mouth of all whose teaching is pure. It is not inefficacious; it bears fruit; it justifies the godly and destroys the ungodly."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1469. Brief comment. Isaiah 11:4.

 

J-523

"Christ did indeed suffer for the whole world; but how many are there who believe and cherish this fact? Therefore, although the work of redemption itself has been accomplished, it still cannot help and benefit a man unless he believes it and experiences its saving power in his heart."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 705f. Smalcald, 1537.

 

J-524

"If remission of sins without repentance is preached, the people imagine that they have already forgiveness of sins, and thereby they are made secure and unconcerned. This is a greater error and sin than all error of former times, and it is verily to be feared that we are in that danger which Christ points out when He says, Matthew 12:45: 'The last state of that man shall be worse than the first.'"

C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 123. Matthew 12:45.[19]

 

F. Justification in the New Testament

 

Terms

dikaiosu,nh   dikaiosune      righteousness

dikai,wsij     dikaiosis         justification

dikaiou/n      dikaioun          to justify

 

The ironic aspect of the Objective Justification frenzy in the last 20 years is the concentration by supposed Lutherans upon the justification of all people without faith when the Scriptures speak only about individual justification by faith. Many of the numerous examples are listed below.

 

KJV Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

 

BYZ Romans 3:27 Pou/ ou=n h` kau,chsij evxeklei,sqh dia. poi,ou no,mou tw/n e;rgwn ouvci, avlla. dia. no,mou pi,stewj 28 logizo,meqa ou=n pi,stei dikaiou/sqai a;nqrwpon cwri.j e;rgwn no,mou.

 

KJV Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

BYZ Romans 5:1 Dikaiwqe,ntej ou=n evk pi,stewj eivrh,nhn e;comen pro.j to.n qeo.n dia. tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/ 2 di ou- kai. th.n prosagwgh.n evsch,kamen th/| pi,stei eivj th.n ca,rin tau,thn evn h-| e`sth,kamen kai. kaucw,meqa evp evlpi,di th/j do,xhj tou/ qeou/.

 

KJV Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

 

BYZ Galatians 2:16 eivdo,tej o[ti ouv dikaiou/tai a;nqrwpoj evx e;rgwn no,mou eva.n mh. dia. pi,stewj VIhsou/ Cristou/ kai. h`mei/j eivj Cristo.n VIhsou/n evpisteu,samen i[na dikaiwqw/men evk pi,stewj Cristou/ kai. ouvk evx e;rgwn no,mou dio,ti ouv dikaiwqh,setai evx e;rgwn no,mou pa/sa sa,rx.

 

KJV Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

 

BYZ Galatians 3:8 proi?dou/sa de. h` grafh. o[ti evk pi,stewj dikaioi/ ta. e;qnh o` qeo.j proeuhggeli,sato tw/| VAbraa.m o[ti VEneuloghqh,sontai evn soi. pa,nta ta. e;qnh\

 

KJV Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

 

BYZ Galatians 3:11 o[ti de. evn no,mw| ouvdei.j dikaiou/tai para. tw/| qew/| dh/lon o[ti ~O di,kaioj evk pi,stewj zh,setai\ 12 o` de. no,moj ouvk e;stin evk pi,stewj avll ~O poih,saj auvta. a;nqrwpoj zh,setai evn auvtoi/j.

 

KJV Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

 

BYZ Galatians 3:24 w[ste o` no,moj paidagwgo.j h`mw/n ge,gonen eivj Cristo,n i[na evk pi,stewj dikaiwqw/men\

 

Justification and Resurrection

The 1 Timothy 3:16 and the Romans 4:25 passages are often used together to transfer the justification of the risen Lord to all people, following Walther’s sermon. Romans 4:24 negates that concept, which must be sustained by assuming that forgiveness comes to man without the Means of Grace. That, of course, is pure Enthusiasm, repudiated throughout the Book of Concord.

 

KJV 1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

 

BYZ 1 Timothy 3:16 kai. o`mologoume,nwj me,ga evsti.n to. th/j euvsebei,aj musth,rion\ Qeo.j evfanerw,qh evn sarki, evdikaiw,qh evn pneu,mati w;fqh avgge,loij evkhru,cqh evn e;qnesin evpisteu,qh evn ko,smw| avnelh,fqh evn do,xh|.

 

KJV Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

 

BYZ Romans 4:24 avlla. kai. di h`ma/j oi-j me,llei logi,zesqai toi/j pisteu,ousin evpi. to.n evgei,ranta VIhsou/n to.n ku,rion h`mw/n evk nekrw/n 25 o]j paredo,qh dia. ta. paraptw,mata h`mw/n kai. hvge,rqh dia. th.n dikai,wsin h`mw/.

 

 

One, Many, All

 

The Objective Justification advocates get very confused when they reach this passage. That response is not surprising. When someone trains himself to see black as white, and white as black, the clear meaning of the Scriptures will tangle him up with his presuppositions. The Holy Spirit teaches us through Paul that sin came into the world through one man Adam and was defeated by One Man Jesus. By one man sin and death came to all men, so by One Man life was promised to all people. One error is addressed and defeated in this passage. Calvinists teach their error of the limited Atonement, as if Christ died only for the elect, a denial of the universal reconciliation accomplished by the Son of God. If a Calvinist preacher tells a contrite sinner that Christ died only for the elect, for a certain number of sins among a select number of people, the individual is thrown into confusion about whether he is one of the elect. Doubt can only follow from such extra-curricular definitions. What God has done is offered to all but not believed by all. Therefore we cannot confuse God’s act of universal Atonement with universal forgiveness, since many hear the Word and reject it. Others hear and believe, then fall away from the Christian faith. Nevertheless, the Christian Church cannot or should not dilute the message of the Gospel by limiting its scope. God wills that all men be saved and does not rejoice at the death of a single sinner.[20] That truth is a great comfort to a new Christian and to all believers.

 

KJV Romans 5:16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

 

BYZ Romans 5:16 kai. ouvc w`j di e`no.j a`marth,santoj to. dw,rhma\ to. me.n ga.r kri,ma evx e`no.j eivj kata,krima to. de. ca,risma evk pollw/n paraptwma,twn eivj dikai,wma. 17 eiv ga.r tw/| tou/ e`no.j paraptw,mati o` qa,natoj evbasi,leusen dia. tou/ e`no,j pollw/| ma/llon oi` th.n erissei,an th/j ca,ritoj kai. th/j dwrea/j th/j dikaiosu,nhj lamba,nontej evn zwh/| basileu,sousin dia. tou/ e`no.j VIhsou/ Cristou/. 18 :Ara ou=n w`j di e`no.j paraptw,matoj eivj pa,ntaj avnqrw,pouj eivj kata,krima ou[twj kai. di e`no.j dikaiw,matoj eivj pa,ntaj avnqrw,pouj eivj dikai,wsin zwh/j\

 

The Justifier of Him Which Believeth

 

The Scriptures guard against the error of the Limited Atonement in many different places. Every reference to the Atonement is universal in scope rather than limited. However, justification is limited to the one who believes. Lutherans should pay more attention to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in this regard. No one can doubt that Christ died for the sins of the world, but the message of the Gospel is ultimately individual. The question on Judgment Day will not be: What synod did you join? Or - who was your pastor? Or - what did your parents believe? The only thing that will matter is whether the individual died with faith in the sacrificial death of Christ for his sins.

 

KJV Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

 

BYZ Romans 3:26 evn th/| avnoch/| tou/ qeou/ pro.j e;ndeixin th/j dikaiosu,nhj auvtou/ evn tw/| nu/n kairw/| eivj to. ei=nai auvto.n di,kaion kai. dikaiou/nta to.n evk pi,stewj VIhsou/.

 

KJV Romans 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

 

BYZ Romans 8:33 ti,j evgkale,sei kata. evklektw/n qeou/ qeo.j o` dikaiw/n\

 

To Justify the Ungodly

 

Nowhere is the tin ear of the Universal Justification fanatics more apparent than in their use of the “justification of the ungodly.” Any Universal Justification partisan who cites this passage to prove his point that people are declared innocent without faith should be ashamed of himself. The centrality of justification by faith is based upon the efficacy of the Word in the Means of Grace. No one who is converted to faith begins by being godly. The grace of God would be meaningless if we tried to argue that forgiveness came only to the godly. Instead, the Christian faith has always taught that the love, mercy, and grace of God come to the ungodly through the Gospel promises, which are received by faith when the individual says, “Yes, the Son of God died for the sins of the world, and for all of my sins. He died for me.” This proclamation of the Gospel is the justification of the ungodly.

 

KJV Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

 

BYZ Romans 4:4 tw/| de. evrgazome,nw| o` misqo.j ouv logi,zetai kata. ca,rin avlla. kata. ovfei,lhma 5 tw/| de. mh. evrgazome,nw| pisteu,onti de. evpi. to.n dikaiou/nta to.n avsebh/ logi,zetai h` pi,stij auvtou/ eivj dikaiosu,nhn\

 

KJV Romans 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

 

BYZ Romans 3:30 evpei,per ei-j o` qeo,j o]j dikaiw,sei peritomh.n evk pi,stewj kai. avkrobusti,an dia. th/j pi,stewj.

 

The Old Testament does not contradict the New Testament in this passage:

 

KJV Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

 

The Acts of the Apostles gives us a portrait of the Christian Church established by Christ, in the first generation of its existence. If the apostles were commanded to teach forgiveness without faith, without the Word, without contrition, without the Means of Grace, Universal Justification would be recorded and emphasized in the sermons of the apostles. Instead, we can only find justification by faith. Justification without faith (Universal Justification) is absent from the entire Bible and particularly in the evangelism of the New Testament.

 

KJV Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

 

BYZ Acts 10:42 kai. parh,ggeilen h`mi/n khru,xai tw/| law/| kai. diamartu,rasqai o[ti auvto,j evstin o` w`risme,noj u`po. tou/ qeou/ krith.j zw,ntwn kai. nekrw/n 43 tou,tw| pa,ntej oi` profh/tai marturou/sin a;fesin a`martiw/n labei/n dia. tou/ ovno,matoj auvtou/ pa,nta to.n pisteu,onta eivj auvto,n.

 

The simple but profound words of the Apostle John express the same message in his epistle:

 

KJV 1 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.

 

BYZ 1 John 1:9 eva.n o`mologw/men ta.j a`marti,aj h`mw/n pisto,j evstin kai. di,kaioj i[na avfh/| h`mi/n ta.j a`marti,aj kai. kaqari,sh| h`ma/j avpo. pa,shj avdiki,aj.

 

 

The Old Testament Gospel

 

Another one of the fatal flaws of Universal or Objective Justification is the Moment of Absolution, which is built upon Walther’s Easter sermon (J-562). The theme of this erroneous view is the verdict of absolution upon all people because of the resurrection of Christ. There is quite a difference between the justification of Christ (1 Timothy 3:16) and the claim that through the justification of Jesus all people are declared absolved of their sins, whether they ever believe or not—with an inexplicable emphasis on not believing. I always thought that the purpose of the Gospel was to emphasize faith rather than unbelief.

The Gospel in the Old Testament cannot be harmonized with Universal Justification because of the imaginary Moment of Absolution. Abraham believed in the Gospel and his belief was counted as righteousness. He was justified by faith long before the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The Gospel was also efficacious in the Old Testament, as we can see in many different passages. The Old Testament heroes of faith believed in the promise of the Messiah. The Atonement takes place in God’s time, not in our journalistic framework. Therefore, the forgiveness of sin came to Abraham and many others through faith because of the future saving death and resurrection of Christ. When we hold to the Scriptural and Confessional teaching of justification by faith, the Gospel in the Old Testament becomes that much more vivid for us who look at the cross in the past rather than in the future, as the ancient patriarchs did.

 

KJV Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

 

BYZ Galatians 3:8 proi?dou/sa de. h` grafh. o[ti evk pi,stewj dikaioi/ ta. e;qnh o` qeo.j proeuhggeli,sato tw/| VAbraa.m o[ti VEneuloghqh,sontai evn soi. pa,nta ta. e;qnh\

 

KJV Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

 

BYZ Hebrews 10:38 o` de. di,kaio,j evk pi,stewj zh,setai kai. eva.n u`postei,lhtai ouvk euvdokei/ h` yuch, mou evn auvtw/|.


 

Part Three: Justification in the Book of Concord

 

Augsburg Confession

 

J-525

"Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably conjoined in one Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that He might reconcile the Father unto us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men."

Augsburg Confession, III. #1. Of the Son of God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45. Tappert, p. 29. Heiser, p. 12.

 

J-526

“Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Romans 3 and 4.”

Augsburg Confession, IV. #1. Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45. Tappert, p. 30. Heiser, p. 12f.

 

Apology of the Augsburg Confession

 

J-527

"The Third Article the adversaries approve, in which we confess that there are in Christ two natures, namely, a human nature, assumed by the Word into the unity of His person; and that the same Christ suffered and died to reconcile the Father to us; and that He was raised again to reign, and to justify and sanctify believers, etc., according to the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, III. #52. Of Christ, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 119. Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:19ff. Tapper, p. 107. Heiser, p. 32.

 

J-528

"Faith is that my whole heart takes to itself this treasure. It is not my doing, not my presenting or giving, not my work or preparation, but that a heart comforts itself, and is perfectly confident with respect to this, namely, that God makes a present and gift to us, and not we to Him, that He sheds upon us every treasure of grace in Christ."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #48. Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 135. Heiser, p. 36.

 

 

 

J-529

"Now, that faith signifies, not only a knowledge of the history, but such faith as assents to the promise, Paul plainly testifies when he says, Romans 4:16: 'Therefore it is of faith, to the end the promise might be sure.' For he judges that the promise cannot be received unless by faith. Wherefore he puts them together as things that belong to one another, and connects promise and faith."

            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV. #51. Of Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 135. Romans 4:16. Tappert, p. 114. Heiser, p. 36.

 

J-530

"This faith, encouraging and consoling in these fears, receives remission of sins, justifies and quickens. For this consolation is a new and spiritual life [a new birth and a new life]. These things are plain and clear, and can be understood by the pious, and have testimonies of the Church [as is to be seen in the conversion of Paul and Augustine]. The adversaries nowhere can say how the Holy Ghost is given. They imagine that the Sacraments confer the Holy Ghost ex opere operato, without a good emotion in the recipient, as though, indeed, the gift of the Holy Ghost were an idle matter."

            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV. #63. Of Justification,, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 139. Tappert, p. 115. Heiser, p. 37.

 

J-531

"Now we will show that faith [and nothing else] justifies."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #69. Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 141. Tappert, p. 116. Heiser, p. 37.

 

J-532

"But to believe is to trust in the merits of Christ, that for His sake God certainly wishes to be reconciled with us. Likewise, just as we ought to maintain that, apart from the Law, the promise of Christ is necessary, so also is it needful to maintain that faith justifies. [For the Law does not preach the forgiveness of sin by grace.] For the Law cannot be performed unless the Holy Ghost be first received. It is, therefore, needful to maintain that the promise of Christ is necessary. But this cannot be received except by faith. Therefore, those who deny that faith justifies, teach nothing but the Law, both Christ and the Gospel being set aside.”

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #69. Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. p. 141. Tappert, p. 116. Heiser, p. 37.

 

J-533

"We do not believe thus {that faith is just a beginning of justification} concerning faith, but we maintain this, that properly and truly, by faith itself, we are for Christ's sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God. And because 'to be justified' means that out of unjust men just men are made, or born again, it means also that they are pronounced or accounted just. For Scripture speaks in both ways. [The term to be justified is used in two ways: to denote, being converted or regenerated; again, being accounted righteous.] Accordingly we wish first to show this, that faith alone makes of an unjust, a just man, i. e., receives remission of sins."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #71-2. Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 141. Tappert, p. 116f. Heiser, p. 38.

 

J-534

"But since we receive remission of sins and the Holy Ghost by faith alone, faith alone justifies, because those reconciled are accounted righteous and children of God, not on account of their own purity, but through mercy for Christ's sake, provided only they by faith apprehend this mercy."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #86. Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 147. Tappert, p. 119. Heiser, p. 39.

 

J-535

"In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul discusses this topic especially, and declares that, when we believe that God, for Christ's sake, is reconciled to us, we are justified freely by faith."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #87. Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 147. 2 Corinthians 5:19ff. Tappert, p. 119f. Heiser, p. 39.

 

J-536

"These things are so plain and so manifest that we wonder that the madness of the adversaries is so great as to call them into doubt. The proof is manifest that, since we are justified before God not from the Law, but from the promise, it is necessary to ascribe justification to faith."

            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, III. #177. Of Love and the Fulfilling of the Law. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 205. Tappert, p. 153. Heiser, p. 60.

 

J-537

"Scripture thus uses the term faith, as the following sentence of Paul testifies, Romans 5:1: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. Moreover, in this passage, to justify signifies, according to forensic usage, to acquit a guilty one and declare him righteous, but on account of the righteousness of another, namely, of Christ, which righteousness of another is communicated to us by faith...1 Corinthians 1:30. Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. And 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. But because the righteousness of Christ is given us by faith, faith is for this reason righteousness in us imputatively, i. e., it is that by which we are made acceptable to God on account of the imputation and ordinance of God, as Paul says, Romans 4:3, 5: Faith is reckoned for righteousness."

            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, III. #184. Of Love and the Fulfilling of the Law. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 205f. Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21. Tappert, p. 154. Heiser, p. 60.

 

J-538

"But as the Confutation condemns us for having assigned these two parts to repentance, we must show that [not we, but] Scripture expresses these as the chief parts in repentance and conversion. For Christ says, Matthew 11:28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Here there are two members. The labor and the burden signify the contrition, anxiety, and terrors of sin and of death. To come to Christ is to believe that sins are remitted for Christ's sake; when we believe, our hearts are quickened by the Holy Ghost through the Word of Christ. Here, therefore, there are these two chief parts, contrition and faith."

            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XII (V). #44. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 263. Matthew 11:28. Tappert, p. 187. Heiser, p. 81.

 

J-539

“That absolution, however, is not received except by faith can be proved from Paul, who teaches, Romans 4:16, that the promise cannot be received except by faith. But absolution is the promise of the remission of sins [nothing else than the Gospel, the divine promise of God’s grace and favor]. Therefore, it necessarily requires faith. Neither do we see how he who does not assent to it may be said to receive absolution.”

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XII. #61-62. Of Repentance. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 269. Romans 4:16. Tappert, p. 190. Heiser, p. 83.

 

J-540

"The Gospel teaches that by faith we receive freely, for Christ's sake, the remission of sins and are reconciled to God."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XV. #5. Human Traditions. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 317. Tappert, p. 215. Heiser, p. 96.

 

The Smalcald Articles

 

J-541

“Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit [freely, and without their own works or merits] by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood, Romans 3:23f. Now, since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us, as St. Paul says, Romans 3:28: For we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law. Likewise, v. 26: That He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Christ.”

            Smalcald Articles, The Second Part, Article I. #4. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 461. Tappert, p. 292. Heiser, p. 137.

 

J-542

“What I have hitherto and constantly taught concerning this I know not how to change in the least, namely, that by faith, as St. Peter says, we acquire a new and clean heart, and God will and does account us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator. And although sin in the flesh has not yet ben altogether removed or become dead, yet He will not punish or remember it. And such faith, renewal, and forgiveness of sins is followed by good works.”

Smalcald Articles, The Third Part, Article XIII. #1-2. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 499. Tappert, p. 315. Heiser, p. 148.


 

The Large Catechism

 

J-543

"Therefore there is here again great need to call upon God and pray: Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses. Not as though He did not forgive sin without and even before our prayer (for He has given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought about it). But this is to the intent that we may recognize and accept {erkennen und annehmen; agnoscamus et accipiamus} such forgiveness. For since the flesh in which we daily live is of such a nature that it neither trusts nor believes God, and is ever active in evil lusts and devices, so that we sin daily in word and deed, by commission and omission, by which the conscience is thrown into unrest, so that it is afraid of the wrath and displeasure of God, and thus loses the comfort and confidence derived from the Gospel; therefore it is ceaselessly necessary that we run hither and obtain consolation to comfort the conscience again."[21]

The Large Catechism, The Lord's Prayer, Fifth Petition, #88-89, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 723. Matthew 6:12. Tappert, p. 432. Heiser, p. 202f.

 

Formula of Concord

 

J-544

"The third controversy which has arisen among some theologians of the Augsburg Confession is concerning the righteousness of Christ or of faith, which God imputes by grace, through faith, to poor sinners for righteousness."

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #1. Of the Righteousness of Faith before God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 917. Tappert, p. 539. Heiser, p. 250.

 

J-545

"These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves. This faith is a gift of God, by which we truly learn to know Christ, our Redeemer, in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him, that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by God the Father, and are eternally saved."

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #10. Of the Righteousness of Faith before God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 919. Tappert, p. 541. Heiser, p. 250.

 

J-546

"Accordingly, the word justify here means to declare righteous and free from sins, and to absolve one from eternal punishment for the sake of Christ's righteousness, which is imputed by God to faith, Philippians 3:9. For this use and understanding of this word is common in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament. Proverbs 17:15: He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord. Isaiah 5:23: Woe unto them which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Romans 8:33: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, that is, absolves from sins and acquits."

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #17. Of the Righteousness of Faith before God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 921. Philippians 3:9; Proverbs 17:15; Isaiah 5:23; Romans 8:33. Tappert, p. 541f. Heiser, p. 251.

 

J-547

"For when man is justified through faith [which the Holy Ghost alone works], this is truly a regeneration, because from a child of wrath he becomes a child of God, and thus is transferred from death to life, as it is written; When we were dead in sins, He hath quickened us together with Christ, Ephesians 2:5. Likewise: The just shall live by faith, Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4."

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #20. Of the Righteousness of Faith before God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 921. Tappert, p. 542. Heiser, p. 251.

 

J-548

“But here very good attention must be given with especial diligence, if the article of justification is to remain pure, lest that which precedes faith, and that which follows after it, be mingled together or inserted into the article of justification as necessary and belonging to it, because it is not one or the same thing to speak of conversion and of justification. For not everything that belongs to conversion belongs likewise to the article of justification, in and to which belong and are necessary only the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and faith, which receives this in the promise of the Gospel, whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, whence we receive and have forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, sonship, and heirship of eternal life. Therefore true, saving faith is not in those who are without contrition and sorrow, and have a wicked purpose to remain and persevere in sins; but true contrition precedes, and genuine faith is in or with true repentance [justifying faith is in those who repent truly, not feignedly].”

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #24-26. Of the Righteousness of Faith Before God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 921. Tappert, p. 543. Heiser, p. 251.

J-549

"Moreover, neither contrition nor love or any other virtue, but faith alone is the sole means and instrument by which and through which we can receive and accept the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and the forgiveness of sins, which are offered us in the promise of the Gospel."

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #31. Of the Righteous of Faith before God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 925. Tappert, p. 544. Heiser, p. 252.

 

J-550

"Here belongs also what St. Paul writes Romans 4:3, that Abraham was justified before God by faith alone, for the sake of the Mediator, without the cooperation of his works, not only when he was first converted from idolatry and had no good works, but also afterwards, when he had been renewed by the Holy Ghost, and adorned with many excellent good works, Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:8. And Paul puts the following questions, Romans 4:1ff.: On what did Abraham's righteousness before God for everlasting life, by which he had a gracious God, and was pleasing and acceptable to Him, rest at that time?

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #33. Of the Righteousness of Faith before God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 927. Romans 4:3; Romans 4:1ff; Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:8. Tappert, p. 545. Heiser, p. 252.

 

J-551

"For good works do not precede faith, neither does sanctification precede justification. But first faith is kindled in us in conversion by the Holy Ghost from the hearing of the Gospel. This lays hold of God's grace in Christ, by which the person is justified. Then, when the person is justified, he is also renewed and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, from which renewal and sanctification the fruits of good works then follow."

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #41, Of the Righteousness of Faith before God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 929. Tappert, p. 546. Heiser, p. 253.

 

J-552

“...God in His purpose and counsel ordained [decreed]:

  1. That the human race is truly redeemed and reconciled with God through Christ, who, by His faultless [innocency] obedience, suffering, and death, has merited for us the righteousness which avails before God, and eternal life.
  2. That such merit and benefits of Christ shall be presented, offered, and distributed to us through His Word and Sacraments.
  3. That by His Holy Ghost, through the Word, when it is preached, heard, and pondered, He will be efficacious and active in us, convert hearts to true repentance, and preserve them in the true faith.
  4. That He will justify all those who in true repentance receive Christ by a true faith, and will receive them into grace, the adoption of sons, and the inheritance of eternal life."

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, XI. #15. Of God's Eternal Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1069. 2 Corinthians 5:19ff. Tappert, p. 619. Heiser, p. 288. [emphasis added]

 

J-553

"On this account, as the Augsburg Confession in Article XI says, we also retain private absolution, and teach that it is God's command that we believe such absolution, and should regard it as sure that, when we believe the word of absolution, we are as truly reconciled to God as though we had heard a voice from heaven, as the Apology explains this article. This consolation would be entirely taken from us if we were not to infer the will of God towards us from the call which is made through the Word and through the Sacraments."

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, XI. #38. Of God's Eternal Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1075. Tappert, p. 622. Heiser, p. 289.


 

David Chytraeus, Concordist

 

J-554

"How is a person justified before God? This occurs solely by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ; that is, freely, not because of any works or merits of one's own but only because of the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, who became the sacrificial victim and propitiation on our behalf. By this sacrifice, man obtained forgiveness of sins and became righteous; that is, God-pleasing and acceptable. His righteousness was imputed to man for Christ's sake, and man becomes an heir of eternal life when he believes with certainty that God gives him these blessings for the sake of His Son."

            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 105.

 

"Christian righteousness is the forgiveness of sin, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and acceptance to eternal life. It is free, not the result of any virtues or works but is given solely because of Christ, the Mediator, and apprehended by faith alone."

            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 106.

 

"Scripture therefore uses these words, 'We are justified by faith,' to teach both: 1) What the reason (or merit) for justification is, or what the blessings of Christ are; to wit, that through and for the sake of Christ alone we are granted forgiveness of sins, righteousness and eternal life; and 2. How these should be applied or transferred to us; namely, by embracing the promise and relying on Christ by faith alone."

            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 107.

 

Martin Chemnitz, Concordist

 

J-555

"But when we are speaking of the subject itself, it is certain that the doctrine of gracious reconciliation, of the remission of sins, of righteousness, salvation, and eternal life through faith for the sake of the Mediator is one and the same in the Old and in the New Testament. This is a useful rule which we must retain at all costs: The doctrine, wherever we read it, in either the Old or New Testament, which deals with the gracious reconciliation and the remission of sins through faith for the sake of God's mercy in Christ, is the Gospel."

            Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 459.

 

"Therefore God, 'who is rich in mercy' [Ephesians 2:4], has had mercy upon us and has set forth a propitiation through faith in the blood of Christ, and those who flee as suppliants to this throne of grace He absolves from the comprehensive sentence of condemnation, and by the imputation of the righteousness of His Son, which they grasp in faith, He pronounces them righteous, receives them into grace, and adjudges them to be heirs of eternal life. This is certainly the judicial meaning of the word 'justification,' in almost the same way that a guilty man who has been sentenced before the bar of justice is acquitted."

            Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 482. Ephesians 2:4

 

"Yet these exercises of faith always presuppose, as their foundation, that God is reconciled by faith, and to this they are always led back, so that faith may be certain and the promise sure in regard to these other objects. This explanation is confirmed by the brilliant statement of Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:20: 'All the promises of God in Christ are yea and amen, to the glory of God through us,' that is, the promises concerning other objects of faith have only then been ratified for us when by faith in Christ we are reconciled with God. The promises have been made valid on the condition that they must give glory to God through us."

            Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 495. 2 Corinthians 1:20

 

"Therefore this apprehension or acceptance or application of the promise of grace is the formal cause or principle of justifying faith, according to the language of Scripture."

            Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 502.

 

"We must note the foundations. For we are justified by faith, not because it is so firm, robust, and perfect a virtue, but because of the object on which it lays hold, namely Christ, who is the Mediator in the promise of grace. Therefore when faith does not err in its object, but lays hold on that true object, although with a weak faith, or at least tries and wants to lay hold on Christ, then there is true faith, and it justifies. The reason for this is demonstrated in those lovely statements in Philippians 3:12: 'I apprehend, or rather I am apprehended by Christ' and Galatians 4:9: 'You have known God, or rather have been known by God.' Scripture shows a beautiful example of this in Mark 9:24: 'I believe; help my unbelief.'"

            Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 503. Philippians 3:12; Galatians 4:9; Mark 9:24.

 

"For we are not justified because of our faith (propter fidem), in the sense of faith being a virtue or good work on our part. Thus we pray, as did the man in Mark 9:24: 'I believe, Lord; help my unbelief'; and with the apostles: 'Lord, increase our faith,' Luke 17:5."

            Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 506 Mark 9:24; Luke 17:5.

 

"But because not doubt but faith justifies, and not he who doubts but he who believes has eternal life, therefore faith teaches the free promise, which relies on the mercy of God for the sake of the sacrifice of the Son, the Mediator, and not on our works, as Paul says in Romans 4:16: 'Therefore it is of faith, that the promise might be sure according to grace.'"

Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 507. Romans 4:16

 

"Thus when we say that we are justified by faith, we are saying nothing else than that for the sake of the Son of God we receive remission of sins and are accounted as righteous. And because it is necessary that this benefit be taken hold of, this is said to be done 'by faith,' that is, by trust in the mercy promised us for the sake of Christ. Thus we must also understand the correlative expression, 'We are righteous by faith,' that is, through the mercy of God for the sake of His Son we are righteous or accepted."

Melanchthon, Loci Communes, “The Word Faith.” Cited in Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. p. 489.

 

Jacob Andreae, Concordist

 

"Concerning the article on the justification of the poor sinner in God's sight, we believe, teach, and confess on the basis of God's Word and the position of our Christian Augsburg Confession that the poor, sinful person is justified in God's sight—that is, he is pronounced free and absolved of his sins and receives forgiveness for them—only through faith, because of the innocent, complete, and unique obedience and the bitter sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, not because of the indwelling, essential righteousness of God or because of his own good works, which either precede or result from faith. We reject all doctrines contrary to this belief and confession."

            Jacob Andreae, Confession and Brief Explanation of Certain Disputed Articles. Cited in Robert Kolb, Andreae and the Formula of Concord, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977, p. 58.

 

"Indeed, it has been proved more than sufficiently from the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles in the Old and New Testaments that the righteousness which avails in God's sight, which poor sinners have for comfort in their worst temptations, cannot and should not be sought in our own virtues or good works; nor will it be found there, as was proved above against the papists. Instead, it should be sought only in Christ the Lord, whom God has made our righteousness and who saves all believing Christians and makes them righteous through knowledge of Him."

            Jacob Andreae, The First Sermon, On the Righteousness of Faith in God's Sight. Cited in Robert Kolb, Andreae and the Formula of Concord, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977, p. 67.

 

"That is enough on the first article concerning which the theologians of the Augsburg Confession have quarreled with each other. Although it was a very scandalous controversy, nonetheless God, who lets nothing evil happen if He cannot make something good out of it, has produced this benefit for His church through the controversy: The chief article of our Christian faith, on which our salvation depends, has been made clear, so that there is not a passage in the Old or New Testament which has not been considered and discussed."

            Jacob Andreae, The First Sermon, On the Righteousness of Faith in God's Sight. Cited in Robert Kolb, Andreae and the Formula of Concord, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977, p. 76.


 

Part Four: The Kokomo/LCMS Error, Forgiveness Without Faith

 

The Quest for a Second Justification

 

The main cheerleaders for Kokomo justification in WELS, quoted below, have admitted in print that two justifications cannot be found in the Book of Concord. In fact, justification in the Book of Concord is always justification by faith, as the previous extensive quotations prove beyond a doubt. One can easily see in the glib confession below the foundational error of Kokomo: the universal atonement is converted into another form of justification, a declaration without effect, without means, without the Word.

 

J-556

"It must be admitted that when our Lutheran Confessions speak of justification they speak almost exclusively of that facet of justification we usually call 'subjective' justification, which has also been called 'special' or 'personal' justification. But the Confessions also show us that the basis for this justification is the justification that precedes faith."

Rick Nicholas Curia, The Significant History of the Doctrine of Objective or Universal Justification, Alpine, California: California Pastoral Conference, WELS. January 24-25, 1983. p. 13.[22]

 

J-557

"The two terms are relatively modern. They are not used in the Lutheran Confessions. They are also not really synonymous. 'Universal justification' is a term denoting the doctrine that God has forgiven the sins of all men. Strictly speaking, the term objective justification expresses the thought that the sins of a man are forgiven by God whether he believes it or not. Objective justification is not necessarily universal, but if justification is universal it must of necessity be objective."[23]

Siegbert Becker, "Objective Justification," Chicago Pastoral Conference, WELS, Elgin, Illinois, November 9, 1982, unpaginated.

 

Hoenecke, Citing Gerhard, on General Justification

 

J-558

Adolph Hoenecke, Dogmatik, III, p. 354-5

“Die Rechtfertigung ist eine Handlung Gottes, welche in der Zeit und an jedem einzelnen Suender besonders geschieht. Aber es gibt auch eine allgemeine Rechtfertigung, welche in der Zeit und zwar in Christi Leiden und Auferstehen ueber alle Menschen ergangen ist (Roemerbriefe 5:18; 2 Korintherbriefe 5:19; Roemerbriefe 4:25). Von der allgemeinen Rechtfertigung handeln unsere Dogmatiker nicht besonders, wohl aber gelegentlich.[24] So Gerhard (Loci, l.c. XXXIII, p. 31):

 

‘Notandum, quod Christus sub tribus potissimum rationibus ad justificationem nostram concurrat:

1)     Meritorie, ipse enim sanctissimo et perfectissimo suo merito gratiam justificationis nobis impetravit.

2)     Efficienter, neque enim a peccatis solum, morte et diabolo nos liberavit et justitiam, quae coram Deo valet, nobis peperit, sed etiam pretiosa ista bona tam care adquisita in verbo evangelii nobis offert et per fidem adplicat.

3)     Formaliter in ipsa adplicatione, siquidem nulla alia re coram Deo sumus justi, quam justita a Christo adquisita et per fidem nob imputata.’

 

Ebenderselbe (Annotationes in Epist. Ad Romanos, ed. Jenae 1666, p. 156):

‘Exitando eum (Christium) a mortuis absolvit cum a pecaatis nostris ipsi imputatis, ac proinde etiam nos in ipso absolvit, ut sic Christi resurrectio sit nostrae justificationis et causa et pignus et complementum.’

Ebenderselbe (Disputationes theologicae, ed. Jenae, 1655, XX, p. 1450.):

‘Quia in Christi resurrectione a peccatis nostris sumus absoluti, ut non amplius coram Dei judicio nos condemnare possint.

Richtig sagt Ph. D. Burk (Rechfertigung und Versicherung, S. 41, geb. 1714):

‘Das Verhaeltnis der allgemeinen Rechtfertigung zu der sonst sogenannten Rechtfertigung kann dahin ausgedrueckt werden, dass in der letzteren debe die Zueignung der ersteren geschieht.’

Die Hervorhebung der allgemeinen Rechtfertigung ist noetig, um den realen Inhalt des Evangeliums zu bewahren.

 

Dass die Rechtfertigung ueber den einzelnen Suender ergeht, bedarf nicht bsonderen Nachweises. Es genuegt der Hinweis auf den Zoellner. An ihm, der an die Gnade Gottes appelliert, gescheiht die Rechfertigung, an dem Pharisaeer aber geschieht sie night. Und ueberhaupt zeigt die ganze Schrift, dass immer der, welcher glaubt, gerectfertigt wird, also immer der einzelne, sobald der Glaube in ihm entzuendet wird.”

 

Translation - Adolph Hoenecke, Dogmatik, III, p. 354-5

“Justification is an activity of God, which takes place in a different time and manner for each individual sinner. But there is also a general justification which came upon all men, in the time of—and indeed, in—Christ’s passion and resurrection (Romans 5:18; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 4:25). Our dogmaticians have not written much in particular about this general justification, but have made only occasional mention of it. For example Gerhard (Loci, l.c. XXXIII, p. 31):

 

‘It must be noted that Christ concurred most capably with our justification under three headings:
1) meritoriously, he himself obtained the grace of justification with his own most holy and perfect merit.

2) effectively, not only did he free us from sin, death and the Devil, and acquire for us the righteousness which avails before God, but he also offers that good, precious grace acquired so dearly in the word of the Gospel and applies it through faith.

3) Formally, in its application, for we are justified by no other thing before God than by the righteousness acquired by Christ and imputed to us through faith:’

 

Gerhard again (Annotations on the Epistle to the Romans, Jena Edition, 1666, p. 156):

‘By His resurrection [God] absolved Him, since our sins had been imputed to Him, and also in the same manner absolved us in Him, so that in this way the resurrection of Christ may be both the cause and the complete guarantee of our justification.’

Gerhard again (Theological Disputations, Jena Edition, 1655, XX, p. 1450.):

‘Because we have been absolved from our sins in the resurrection of Christ, so they cannot condemn us any more in judgment before God.’

 

And Ph. D. Burk (Rechtfertigung und Versicherung, p. 41) rightly said:

‘The difference between general justification and the more common usage of the term justification can be expressed as follows. The latter takes place precisely upon the appropriation of the former.’

An emphasis upon general justification is necessary in order to safeguard the material content of the Gospel.

 

We need furnish no extraordinary proof in regard to the justification of the individual sinner; let us suffice with the story of the publican. Justification takes place in the one who appeals to the grace of God, but it does not take place in the Pharisee. And the entirety of Scripture demonstrates that he who believes is always justified; this applies to every individual, the moment that faith is kindled in him.”

 

Analysis of Hoenecke

 

This section from Hoenecke’s Dogmatik does not offer a strong defense of General or Objective Justification.

1.     Noteworthy is his admission that the term is seldom mentioned in orthodox theology. Hoenecke was in a position to know. In contrast, Siegbert Becker claims that quotations in favor of Objective Justification are numerous.

2.     The first example from Gerhard’s Loci emphasizes the atoning death of Christ as well as receiving His righteousness through faith, in harmony with the Scriptures and the Book of Concord.

3.     The quotation from the Disputations can be seen as the beginning of the Easter absolution theme found in Walther and later writers.

4.     Burk uses “general justification” as a synonym for the atonement, but Gerhard does not. Burk (1714-1770) was a Pietist, influenced by his father-in-law, J. A. Bengel.

5.     If this section from Hoenecke is cited without being quoted, the reader thinks that Hoenecke is another advocate of justification without faith. That is not true.

The popular justification literature tries to make J. Gerhard the father of Objective Justification, but that claim was easier to make when the theologian’s work was out of the reach of most people. The following quotations refute any claim that Gerhard can be blamed for promoting justification without faith.

 

J-559

"The entire Scripture testifies that the merits of Christ are received in no other way than through faith, not to mention that it is impossible to please God without faith, Hebrews 11:6, let alone to be received into eternal life. In general, St. Paul concludes concerning this [matter] in Romans 3:28: Thus we hold then that a man becomes righteous without the works of the Law—only through faith."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 165.

 

J-560

"Therefore, the fulfillment of this promise to Abraham is in no way to be interpreted to mean that Abraham's seed became righteous and saved without individual faith."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 167.

 

Opposition to Lenski in WELS is seldom articulated, except for saying, “He is not good on the topic of justification.” This attitude keeps seminary students from taking seriously the exegetical work of Lenski’s Romans. In the late 1980s, when I was at Mequon, the Kokomo Statements were in the forbidden zone. (The Wisconsin Synod is remarkably thin-skinned, so even the relatively ancient Protest’ant conflict of the 1920’s was on the index of prohibited topics.) Although I was in the Romans class with Panning and dogmatics with Gawrisch, I did not come away from the quarter with the impression that Hell was full of guilt-free saints. I think WELS learned how hopeless their position appeared in public, and how vulnerable to mockery and scorn. Hence, the official version of Kokomo blamed the laity for creating a crisis by manufacturing misleading statements.

 

J-561

"The danger is that by use of the term subjective justification we may lose the objective divine act of God by which He declares the individual sinner righteous evk pi,stewj eivj pi,sti (ek pisteos eis pisti) the instant faith (embracing Christ) is wrought in him, leaving only the one divine declaration regarding the whole world of sinners, calling this an actus simplex, the only forensic act of God, and expanding this to mean that God declared every sinner free from guilt when Christ was raised from the dead, so many millions even before they were born, irrespective of faith, apart from and without faith. This surely wipes out 'justification by faith alone.' Only his faith is reckoned to him for righteousness."

R. C. H. Lenski, Romans, Augsburg Publishing House: Minneapolis, 1963 p. 85. Romans 1:17.

 

One person has claimed to find objective justification in the Book of Concord, directly connected with the term justification.[25] The sentence from the Smalcald Articles is quoted below.

 

J-562

“Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit [freely, and without their own works or merits] by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood, Romans 3:23f. Now, since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us, as St. Paul says, Romans 3:28: For we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law. Likewise verse 26: That He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Christ.

            Martin Luther, Smalcald Articles, The Second Part, #3-4, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 461. Tappert, p. 292. Heiser, p. 137.

 

Trying to use this reference to support the notion that “all are justified” shows the poverty of the argument. We are in dark times, when Latin and English are misunderstood, when context is ignored to make a point. This statement does not say that “all have sinned and all are justified.” That claim would turn this statement into Universalism, a doctrine rejected by the Book of Concord. Clearly the statement emphasizes that all have sinned…all are justified without merit, that is, no one who is justified is declared righteous based upon works. No one should miss the implication of the sentence following the first one. We need to read sentences #3 and #4, not just a phrase in sentence #3. The entire foundation of justification without faith is destroyed when the Book of Concord, our confession, states that “it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by work, law, or merit….” Who can miss the statement that “faith alone justifies us,” a statement that clashes with the Kokomo statements and the LCMS justification document.

On the liberal side of the justification issue, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran World Federation have shown us the folly of abandoning justification by faith with their complete and abject surrender to the Church of Rome on Reformation Day, 1999. For years, the ELCA leaders prepared their members for this surrender by castigating Luther and reducing the Gospel to “accepting God’s acceptance.” The ELCA courtship of the Antichrist should remind them of what one of their finest confessional writers once said about the Anglicans:

 

J-563

"Its Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy have been a great bulwark of Protestantism; and yet, seemingly, out of the very stones of that bulwark has been framed, in our day, a bridge on which many have passed over into Rome...It harbors a skepticism which takes infidelity by the hand, and a revised medievalism which longs to throw itself, with tears, on the neck of the Pope and the Patriarch, to beseech them to be gentle and not to make the terms of restored fellowship too difficult."

            Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1913 (first edition, 1871), p. x.

 

The Missouri Synod Contribution

 

Quotations from the Missouri Synod founders show that the major points of Kokomo justification were first made by Walther, Pieper, and Stoeckhardt:

1)     God pronounced the sins of the world forgiven or absolved, without contrition or faith or the Means of Grace, at the moment of Christ’s resurrection, based upon Romans 4:25.

2)     Reconciliation and justification are equated, using 2 Corinthians 5:19.

“Accepting the absolution by faith” has fallen out of many discussions defending objective justification in the Missouri Synod, Wisconsin Synod, and smaller groups. In practice, the efficacious Word is no longer proclaimed at all. J. P. Meyer introduced plenty of problems with his book Ministers of Christ but at least he advocated preaching the Word (see footnote).[26] Now evangelism in the former Synodical Conference is nothing more than gathering those people who are “already forgiven,” and telling them they are already “absolved of their sins,” even though they do not know the nature of sin according to the Scriptures. This approach soon collapse to an appeal to join the congregation because this particular church is friendly, active, caring, and buzzing with lots of cell groups. A Unitarian minister with some charm and organizational skills can do as well with the same approach.

 

J-564

"For God has already forgiven you your sins 1800 years ago when He in Christ absolved all men by raising Him after He first had gone into bitter death for them. Only one thing remains on your part so that you also possess the gift. This one thing is—faith. And this brings me to the second part of today's Easter message, in which I now would show you that every man who wants to be saved must accept by faith the general absolution, pronounced 1800 years ago, as an absolution spoken individually to him."

C. F. W. Walther, The Word of His Grace, Sermon Selections, "Christ's Resurrection—The World's Absolution" Lake Mills: Graphic Publishing Company, 1978, p. 233. Mark 16:1-8.

 

J-565

"Now, then, if the Father raised Christ from the dead, He, by this glorious resurrection act, declared that the sins of the whole world are fully expiated, or atoned for, and that all mankind is now regarded as righteous before His divine tribunal. This gracious reconciliation and justification is clearly taught in Romans 4:25: 'Who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification.' The term dikai,wsij (dikaiosis) here means the act of divine justification executed through God's act of raising Christ from the dead, and it is for this reason called the objective justification of all mankind. This truth Dr. Walther stressed anew in America. He taught that the resurrection of Christ from the dead is the actual absolution pronounced upon all sinners. (Evangelienpostille, p. 160ff.)…Calov, following Gerhard, rightly points out the relation of Christ's resurrection to our justification as follows: 'Christ's resurrection took place as an actual absolution from sin (respectu actualis a peccato absolutionis). As God punished our sins in Christ, upon whom He laid them and to whom He imputed them, as our Bondsman, so He also, by the very act of raising Him from the dead, absolved Him from our sins imputed to Him, and so He absolved also us in Him.'" [Bibl. Illust., ad Rom. 4:25]

Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1951, II, p. 321. Romans 4:25.[27]

 

J-566

"Scripture teaches the objective reconciliation. Nineteen hundred years ago Christ effected the reconciliation of all men with God. God does not wait for men to reconcile Him with themselves by means of any efforts of their own. He is already reconciled. The reconciliation is an accomplished fact, just like the creation of the world. Romans 5:10: 'We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.' When Christ died, God became reconciled. As Christ's death lies in the past, so also our reconciliation is an accomplished fact. 2 Corinthians 5:19: 'God was in Christ, reconciling' (namely, when Christ lived and died on earth) 'the world unto Himself.' The katalla,ssein (katallassein) of Romans 5:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:19 does not refer—let this fact be noted—to any change that occurs in men, but describes an occurrence in the heart of God. It was God who laid His anger by on account of the ransom brought by Christ. It was God who at that time already had in His heart forgiven the sins of the whole world, for the statement: 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself' means—and that is not our, but the Apostle's own interpretation—that God did 'not impute their trespasses unto them.' And 'not imputing trespasses' is, according to Scripture (Romans 4:6-8), synonymous with 'forgiving sins,' 'justifying' the sinner. "The resurrection of Christ is, as Holy Writ teaches, the actual absolution of the whole world of sinners. Romans 4:25: 'Who was raised again for our justification.' At that time we were objectively declared free from sin."

Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1951, II, p. p 348. Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19.

 

J-567

"This doctrine of general justification is the guarantee and warranty that the central article of justification by faith is being kept pure. Whoever holds firmly that God was reconciled to the world in Christ, and that to sinners in general their sin was forgiven, to him the justification which comes from faith remains a pure act of the grace of God. Whoever denies general justification is justly under suspicion that he is mixing his own work and merit into the grace of God.”[28]

George Stoeckhardt, Concordia Theological Quarterly, April, 1978, p. 138. Cited by Pastor Vernon Harley "Synergism—Its Logical Association with General Justification," 511 Tilden, Fairmont, Minnesota 56031, August, 1984, p. 1.

 

J-568

"The chief purpose, however, is to keep this article (general justification) before the people for its own sake. It cannot be presented and studied too often. Its vital relation to the subjective, personal justification by faith, cannot be stressed too strongly. It forms the basis of the justification by faith and keeps this article free from the leaven of Pelagianism. Unless the sinner knows that his justification is already an accomplished fact in the forum of God, he will imagine that it is his faith, his good conduct, which moves God to forgive him his sins. And unless he knows that God had him personally in mind in issuing the general pardon on Easter morning, he will have no assurance of his justification."

Theodore Engelder, Concordia Theological Monthly, July/August/September, 1933. Reissued by the seminary print-shop, Ft. Wayne, 1981. Cited by Pastor Vernon Harley, "Synergism—Its Logical Association with General Justification," 511 Tilden, Fairmont, Minnesota 56031, August, 1984, p. 1f.

 

J-569

"The entire Pauline doctrine of justification stands and falls with the special article of general justification. This establishes it beyond peradventure that justification is entirely independent of the conduct of man. And only in this way the individual can have the assurance of his justification. For it is the incontrovertible conclusion: Since God has already justified all men in Christ and forgiven them their sins, I, too, have a gracious God in Christ and forgiveness of all my sins."

Quoted with approval by Theodore Engelder, from George Stoeckhardt, Commentary on Romans, p. 264. Cited by Pastor Vernon Harley, "Synergism—Its Logical Association with General Justification," 511 Tilden, Fairmont, Minnesota 56031, August, 1984, p. 2.

 

J-570

"The resurrection is God's public absolution of the entire world: 'Your sins are forgiven, all sins of all human beings; and there is no exception.' This is the meaning of the technical term 'objective justification.' The objective justification is central to the doctrine of salvation and derives logically from the facts that God's reconciliation, forgiveness, and declaration of 'not guilty' in no wise depend on the attitude or behaviour of human beings. If objective justification is denied, then it must follow that those who are declared righteous in some way have contributed to God's change of heart; justification is then no longer solely the result of God's grace."

Theodore Mueller, Concordia Theological Quarterly, January, 1982, p. 29. Cited by Pastor Vernon Harley, "Synergism—Its Logical Association with General Justification," 511 Tilden, Fairmont, Minnesota 56031, August, 1984, p. 3.

 

J-571

"The fact of the redemption and reconciliation of the entire human race through Christ, and with it the forgiveness of all sins for all men on God's part—which, indeed, is precisely what the Gospel proclaims, presents and gives—can by no means become a lie through the unbelief of men...even when the unbelievers don't receive it, but reject it for themselves and for this reason—indeed, for this reason alone—are lost."

Walther's colleague, Theodore Brohm, 1808-1881. Cited in Rick Nicholas Curia, The Significant History of the Doctrine of Objective or Universal Justification, Alpine, California: California Pastoral Conference, WELS. January 24-25, 1983. p. 16.

 

J-572

"The teaching of the Wisconsin Synod [of the old Norwegian Synod] is this, that in and with the universal reconciliation, which has occurred in Christ for the whole world—even Judas; the whole world—even Judas—has been justified and has received the forgiveness of sin. Therefore, according to Luther's clear words ("for where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation"), the whole world (i.e. every person who is a part of the world—even Judas) has become a child of God and an heir of heaven."

Gottfried Fritschel, "Zur Lehre von der Rechtfertigung," Theologische Monatshefte, volume 4, 1871, (1-24), p. 7.[29] Cited in Rick Nicholas Curia, The Significant History of the Doctrine of Objective or Universal Justification, Alpine, California: California Pastoral Conference, WELS. January 24-25, 1983. p. 2.

 

Missouri Synod Brief Statement, 1932

 

J-573

“Scripture teaches that God has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ, Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Romans 4:25; that therefore not for the sake of their good works, but without the works of the Law, by grace, for Christ’s sake, he justifies, that is, accounts as righteous, all those who believe in Christ, that is, believe, accept, and rely on, the fact that for Christ’s sake their sins are forgiven.”[30]

            Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, 1932, “Of Justification.”

 

Missouri Synod CTCR

J-574

"It is contrary to Scripture and the pure Gospel to teach: That forgiveness and justification before God do not involve each other, or that justification and reconciliation are entirely different from each other, as though a person can be reconciled without being justified or justified without being reconciled."

LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, #3.

 

J-575

"In normal Biblical and ecclesiastical usage the terms justify and justification refer to the ('subjective') justification of the individual sinner through faith (Romans 4:5, 5:1, etc.; AC IV, 3; FC SD III 25). But because theologically justification is the same thing as the forgiveness of sins (Romans 4:1-8; Ap IV, 76; FC Ep III, 7), it is Biblically and confessionally correct to refer to the great sin-canceling, atoning work of the Redeemer as the 'objective' or 'universal' justification of the whole sinful human race. (John 1:29; Romans 5:6-18; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 2:14-15; 1 Timothy 3:16; Ap IV, 103-105; LC V, 31, 32, 36, 37; FC SD III, 57)

LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, #4.

 

J-576

"Thus objective justification or reconciliation is the forgiveness of sins both as it has been acquired for the entire human race by Christ's work of obedience in its stead and declared by His resurrection, and as it is seriously and efficaciously offered to all in the means of grace."

LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, #5.

 

J-577

"Subjective justification or reconciliation is this same forgiveness as it is received, appropriated by, and applied to the individual sinner through God-given faith alone (sola fide)."

LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, #6.

 

Old Missouri did not know about the two justifications of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations. Apparently the two justification position became hardened later, first through Pieper and the Brief Statement, then through Jack and Robert Preus in the Walter Maier controversy.

 

Hottentots Justified Without Faith

 

J-578

"So, then, we are reconciled; however, not only we, but also Hindus, and Hottentots and Kafirs, yes, the world. 'Reconciled', says our translation; the Greek original says: 'placed in the right relation to God'. Because before the Fall we, together with the whole creation, were in the right relation to God, therefore Scripture teaches that Christ, through His death, restored all things to the former right relation to God."

F. R. Eduard Preuss, 1834-1904, Die Rechtfertigung der Suender vor Gott. Cited in Rick Nicholas Curia, The Significant History of the Doctrine of Objective or Universal Justification, Alpine, California: California Pastoral Conference, WELS. January 24-25, 1983. p. 24.[31]

 

Justification by Faith in the Old Missouri Synod Catechism

 

J-579

"#305. Why do you say in this article: I believe in the Forgiveness of Sins? Because I hold with certainty that by my own powers or through my own works I cannot be justified before God, but that the forgiveness of sins is given me out of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also true justification. Psalm 130:3-4; Psalm 143:2; Isaiah 64:6; Job 25:4-6 (Q. 124)."

Kleiner Katechismus, trans. Pastor Vernon Harley, LCMS, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1901, p. 164ff.

 

"#306. What is justification? Justification is that activity (Handlung) of God by which He out of pure grace and mercy for the sake of Christ's merits forgives the sins of a poor sinner who truly believes in Jesus Christ and receives him to everlasting life."

Kleiner Katechismus, trans. Pastor Vernon Harley, LCMS, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1901, p. 164ff.

 

Efficacy and Justification

 

The efficacy of the Word is so important to the Christian faith that the loss of this doctrine must affect all other doctrines in some way. Recent endless conflicts among Lutherans have been fueled by lack of understanding about the Word. We would be appalled if engineers designed a nuclear reactor without knowing the laws of thermo-dynamics, but clergy write about justification by faith and about Holy Communion without understanding the efficacy of the Word.

A history of the recent conflicts about justification would be interesting to read and large enough to fill several books, but it would not be edifying. Too many articles have dealt with a recent history of the conflict. Too often the discussion revolves around the latest opinions offered in America, as if Lutherans hold a quia subscription to the writings of Walther, Pieper, and synodical commissions. As one minister wrote, “Are you calling Walther a false teacher?” This attitude runs contrary to what Chemnitz stated from the earliest history of the Christian Church, that we must return to the source when the discussion is murky.[32] Then we must set aside the bulk of material and return to the Scriptures and the Book of Concord. Otherwise, we fall into the folly of orthodoxism, where every single statement of each Synodical Conference author must be viewed as part of a seamless and infallible garment, invulnerable to criticism. That attitude is exactly what we find in the Church of Rome. In addition, some who insist on such perfection in the sons of Adam want to avoid entirely an author whose views are flawed in some way. This view would preclude Lutherans from quoting St. Augustine, who devoted a volume to his Retractions, and Luther, who begged that his earlier writings be forgiven for their Roman influences.

 

 

 

 

The Way of Salvation

 

Nothing can be claimed for justification apart from the work of God, Who acts upon us solely through the Word and never without the Word.

A.    The Holy Spirit works through the Law to bring about contrition, true sorrow for sin in the unbeliever.

B.    The Holy Spirit works through the Gospel to create faith, which receives the promise of forgiveness. The Gospel is communicated in the Word, preached and taught; in the Absolution, Baptism, and Holy Communion; and the mutual consolation of the brethren.

C.    The Holy Spirit continues its work through the Word in the believer. The Word continues to work through the Law in condemning sin, and through the Gospel both in promising forgiveness and motivating good works.

 

Exposing the Kokomo Error

 

The Kokomo conflict began in July, 1978, in Kokomo, Indiana, at Faith Lutheran Church, WELS, served at that time by Pastor Charles Papenfuss, who was newly called to the congregation. When the parable of the Prodigal Son was being discussed by David Hartman for the upcoming Vacation Bible School, Pastor Papenfuss argued that the story “taught that God the Father has pronounced the entire world of lost sinners forgiven of all sins and that at the time of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection gave unto all sinners the ‘status of saints’…Pastor Papenfuss said that even Judas and all people in hell were declared righteous, holy, innocent of all sin and given the ‘status of saints.’ He said that they too were declared to be guilt-free saints at the time of the resurrection of Christ.”[33] Hartman was surprised at the pastor’s statements and asked if that was the teaching of the WELS seminary. Papenfuss said it was. The pastor recommended J. P. Meyer’s Ministers of Christ to David Hartman. The conflict continued and the congregation voted on June 20, 1979, to endorse the four statements quoted below and to suspend the Hartman and Pohlman families from membership.

The Kokomo Statements, 1979

J-580

 

I. "Objectively speaking, without any reference to an individual sinner's attitude toward Christ's sacrifice, purely on the basis of God's verdict, every sinner, whether he knows it or not, whether he believes it or not, has received the status of saint."

 

II. "After Christ's intervention and through Christ's intervention God regards all sinners as guilt-free saints."

 

III. "When God reconciled the world to Himself through Christ, He individually pronounced forgiveness to each individual sinner whether that sinner ever comes to faith or not."

 

IV. "At the time of the resurrection of Christ, God looked down in hell and declared Judas, the people destroyed in the flood, and all the ungodly, innocent, not guilty, and forgiven of all sin and gave unto them the status of saints."[34]

 

The letter sent to the two families quoted the statements and declared that the families were being expelled for denying them. Certain people have tried to confuse the issue by claiming the statements were made up by the expelled families to parody WELS doctrine. Three statements are almost verbatim from J. P. Meyer’s Ministers of Christ, now out of print. The fourth statement came from a controversy in the 19th century but was added by Pastor Papenfuss to the previous statements from J. P. Meyer. Although WELS has often backed away from the Kokomo statements, the synod continues to defend the content and reproduce the most obnoxious falsehoods found in them. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod teaches Kokomo justification in their seminary. After a layman wrote to Bethany Seminary professor John Moldstad Jr., the following statements appeared in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod Lutheran Sentinel:

 

J-581

“When Paul uses the word ‘reconciling’ here, [2 Corinthians 5:19] he clearly means that forgiveness of sins is really imputed to ‘the world.’

            John Moldstad, Jr., “I have heard some Lutherans say they do not believe the Bible teaches objective justification. How can they assert this and still call themselves ‘Lutheran’?” Lutheran Sentinel, October, 1996, p. 11.[35]

 

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod teaches an ambiguous form of the same doctrine. Each synod (WELS, ELS, LCMS) teaches various forms of justification, with pastors teaching a version somewhere between the extremes of Universal Justification (without faith) and the Scriptural norm of justification by faith.

The Pohlman and Hartman families were suspended from Faith Lutheran Church on July 8, 1979. The circuit pastor, Alan Siggelkow, agreed with the suspension at the July voters’ meeting, which he attended. Not surprisingly, Siggelkow upheld the suspension on August 7, 1979. The letter from the congregation to the two families, dated August 30, 1979, cited the Kokomo Statements and stated that failure to accept them was the cause of the suspension, “all of which are in agreement with the teachings of the WELS.” The two families were terminated as members on November 19, 1980, in a letter from their congregation, citing disagreement with the WELS doctrine of justification. The Siegbert Becker paper, quoted below, preserves the deception that the two families made up the statements instead of the pastor. And yet the same paper admits that the first three statements came from WELS sources. Which Becker version should be believed?[36]

J-582

"Three of the four [Kokomo] statements, because of their lack of clarity, tend to confuse the issue. But since the disciplined laymen used them to advance their false doctrine, it was understandable that the congregation should also use them in its rejection of the falsehood being advocated. I do not consider any of the four statements to be false doctrine, but I would rather not use the language used in the first, second, and fourth." [conclusion of paper]

Siegbert Becker, "Objective Justification," Chicago Pastoral Conference, WELS, Elgin, Illinois, November 9, 1982, unpaginated.

 

Although some WELS leaders deny that the Kokomo Statements are from WELS, the following verbatim quotations from J. P. Meyer disprove his innocence, especially since they predate the Kokomo Statements. The origin of the Kokomo Statements is interesting. The excommunicated families said, in effect, “This is what we reject.” What they rejected was being taught and is still being taught in the Wisconsin Synod. The Wisconsin Synod listed the rejected Kokomo Statements as the reason for the excommunication, upheld the excommunication, and then claimed later that the two couples made up the statements.[37]

 

CLC/WELS Smokescreen

 

One Church of the Lutheran Confession minister, known for both loving and hating WELS, published this howler:

 

J-583

“The three statements unfortunately and inaccurately attributed to Prof. Meyer's Ministers of Christ are in reality inaccurate paraphrases. They were written by a lay member of the Kokomo congregation, who was questioning the WELS doctrine of objective justification as it was presented by the local pastor. The fourth statement was also a paraphrase not from any WELS source. The statements were called "a caricature of objective justification" by WELS president Carl H. Mischke.”

            John Lau, “An Apology and Correction, CLC Journal of Theology, December, 1997.[38]

 

 

Compare what WELS seminary professor Siegbert Becker wrote at the time:

 

J-584

"The first three statements are taken verbatim from WELS sources."

Siegbert Becker, "Objective Justification," Chicago Pastoral Conference, WELS, Elgin, Illinois, November 9, 1982, Unpaginated.

 

Every reader of this chapter is invited to compare the first three Kokomo Statements with the corresponding verbatim quotations from J. P. Meyer’s Ministers of Christ, cited below. The fourth statement emerged from an earlier debate on the subject, in the 19th century, and not directly from J. P. Meyer’s book. That fact is irrelevant, since the pastor and the Wisconsin Synod included the rejection of the fourth statement as part of the reason for excommunicating the two couples. The fourth Kokomo statement was written by Pastor Papenfuss, included as a reason for expelling both families, defended by the circuit pastor Al Siggelkow, upheld by Armin Panning (a future president of the seminary) and defended in print by Sig Becker, a seminary professor. Moreover, the Becker essay was reprinted in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, a definite sign of synodical approval, and again in the showcase of WELS doctrine, the three-volume Our Great Heritage, Northwestern Publishing House.


 

J-585

Letters to the Hartman and Pohlman Families

 

 

“Faith Lutheran Church

3215 West Judson Road

Kokomo, Indiana 46901

 

August 30, 1979

 

Mr. and Mrs. David Hartman

R. R. #1, Box 90

Kokomo, Indiana 46901

 

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hartman,

 

In response to your letter of August 18, 1979, it is our understanding that your ‘no’ vote on June 20th against supporting the biblical doctrine of the WELS was based at least in part, on your failure to accept the following statement – included in your letter – all of which are in agreement with the teachings of the WELS, namely that:

  1. ‘Objectively speaking, without any reference to an individual sinners’ [sic] attitude toward Christs’ [sic] sacrafice [sic], purely on the basis of God’s verdict, every sinner, whether he knows it or not, whether he believes it or not, has received the status of a saint.’
  2. ‘After Christs’ [sic] intervention and through Christs’ [sic] intervention, God regards all sinners as guilt-free saints.’
  3. ‘When God reconciled the world to Himself through Christ, He individually pronounced forgiveness to each individual sinner whether that sinner ever comes to faith or not.’
  4. ‘At the time of the resurrection of Christ God looked down in hell and declared Judas, the people destroyed in the flood, and all the ungodly, innocent, not guilty, and forgiven of all sin and gave unto them the status of saints.’

 

I trust this is the information you desire.

 

Sincerely yours in Christian love,

 

Michael Liebner, Acting Secretary

Faith Lutheran Church Voters’ Assembly”[39]

 

 


 

“Faith Lutheran Church

3215 West Judson Road

Kokomo, Indiana 46901

 

November 19, 1980

 

Mr. and Mrs. David Hartman

R. R. #1, Box 90

Kokomo, Indiana 46901

 

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hartman,

 

In accordance with the recommendations of the Southeastern Wisconsin District Panel of Review the voters of the Faith Lutheran Church have approved a resolution terminating your membership in the congregation unless and until such time as you accept the doctrine of justification as practiced by the WELS.

 

We encourage you to reassess your position on this matter and pray for a favorable decision so that once again we can work together for His Kingdom.

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Michael Liebner, Secretary”[40]

           


 

J. P. Meyer, Foundation for the Kokomo Statements

 

J-586

I. "Objectively speaking, without any reference to an individual sinner's attitude toward Christ's sacrifice, purely on the basis of God's verdict, every sinner, whether he knows about it or not, whether he believes it or not, has received the status of a saint. What will be his reaction when he is informed about this turn of events? Will he accept, or will he decline?"[41]

J. P. Meyer, Ministers of Christ, A Commentary on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1963, p. 103f. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.

 

II. "Before Christ's intervention took place God regarded him as a guilt-laden, condemned culprit. After Christ's intervention and through Christ's intervention He regards him as a guilt-free saint."

J. P. Meyer, Ministers of Christ, A Commentary on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1963, p. 107. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.

III. "This applies to the whole world, to every individual sinner, whether he was living in the days of Christ, or had died centuries before His coming, or had not yet been born, perhaps has not been born to this day. It applies to the world as such, regardless of whether a particular sinner ever comes to faith or not."

J. P. Meyer, Ministers of Christ, A Commentary on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1963, p. 109. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.

 

J-587

“About 300 years earlier Johann Gerhard expressed the same truth in these words: ‘By raising Christ from the dead God absolved Him from our sins, which had been imputed to Him, and accordingly He absolved us also in Him.’ Gerhard was professor of theology in Jena. He did not write a Brief Statement, but he did write a book on Lutheran dogmatics consisting of 20 volumes. He died in 1637.”

            J. P. Meyer, “The Holy Spirit Creator,” The Northwestern Lutheran, September 24, 1950, p. 310.[42]

J-588

“The Judge in heaven examines this evidence. He declares His verdict. It is one of acquittal. Man’s debt of sin is no longer charged against him. Sinful man is free!”

            WELS Conference of Presidents, “Every Sinner Declared Righteous,” 1954 tract.

 

During the appeal process, the Wisconsin Synod had plenty of time to distance itself from the Kokomo Statements. Instead, because they could not admit to being fallible, they made matters worse by agreeing with the content of the statements. I am reminded of the wisdom of an early pope who denounced the first proposal of papal infallibility because he saw how it would impose on him the tyranny of the past. WELS, in defending the words of their own professor, first tried to contain the problem by affirming doctrinal error. Then, when an outcry arose about the absurdity of the Kokomo Statements, WELS tried to invent vague additional reasons why the two families were expelled. Finally, in the years following the incident, WELS took the trouble to re-affirm justification without faith in various ways. In 1991, Northwestern Publishing House reproduced a 1940 essay by J. P. Meyer in Our Great Heritage, a three-volume collection of Wisconsin Synod material. The introduction to the Meyer essay states, “Scripture makes it clear that justification is an accomplished fact…God has forgiven the sins of the whole world.” Our Great Heritage also reprinted the Siegbert Becker essay quoted in this chapter, noting that it was also published in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly in 1987. The quasi-Universalism of the Church Growth Movement in WELS has been built on the doctrine of Kokomo justification.[43]

 

J-589

"Here the panel feels itself compelled to distinguish between form and content. While the form of the Four Statements is inadequate, the doctrine of objective justification it grapples with is Scriptural. The Four Statements have served to show that there is a doctrinal difference between Faith Congregation and the appellants."

Report of the WELS Review Committee, Hartman, Pohlman Appeal, June 30, 1980. Cited in Rick Nicholas Curia, The Significant History of the Doctrine of Objective or Universal Justification, Alpine, California: California Pastoral Conference, WELS. January 24-25, 1983. p. 133.[44]

Objective or Universal Justification, Two Issues

 

First Issue – Two Justifications

Two issues seem to be crucial in maintaining the false view of justification defended by WELS and crypto-WELS pastors. The first is embodied in the terms General, Objective, or Universal Justification, which are almost always used synonymously. The current president of the WELS seminary, David Valleskey, uses the term Universal Justification in his Church Growth book, We Believe-Therefore We Speak. The term Universal Justification is consistent with the Kokomo Statements derived from J. P. Meyer, but is it harmonious with the terms used in the Bible and the Book of Concord? Some people use Objective Justification as a synonym for the atonement, but others use the term in the sense of the Kokomo Statements, with guilt-free saints in Hell. Universal justification seems to be used exclusively in the context of Kokomo justification.

Kokomo justification means justification without the Word, without the Law and Gospel, without the Means of Grace, without contrition, without faith. If the Kokomo Statements are correct according to the Scriptures and Confessions, then they must also be in harmony with the Biblical doctrine of the efficacy of the Word. However, they are not. Kokomo justification is silent where the Scriptures and Confessions are clear. Kokomo advocates prove that their problem is far greater than defending the statements themselves, since they routinely hammer away at the same point, defending and promoting error by upholding forgiveness without faith. WELS leader Wayne Mueller illustrated that when he stated at the Columbus Youth Rally that mission work was easy. He stated that one could walk up to any person and say, “Your sins are already forgiven.” That statement encapsulates the message of the Easter 2000 television commercials.

 

Second Issue - Reconciliation

The second issue concerns the exact meaning of the term reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5:19-21, especially in relation to the atoning death and resurrection of Christ. Advocates of Kokomo justification, using the sermon by C. F. W. Walther, connect their universal justification with the resurrection of Christ, so that the entire world became sin-free the moment Jesus left the grave. This belief rests upon their interpretation of the meaning of Romans 4:25 – “raised for our justification.”[45] The passage in 2 Corinthians is cited to state that God declared the world to be without sin and the residents of Hell to be guilt-free saints. The truths of the Bible are increasingly distorted, so that the original doctrines can be detected, but not easily separated from the errors attached. It is especially difficult to raise these issues in the atmosphere of hysterical ignorance dominating the synods today.

The Book of Concord explicitly uses the Romans 4:25 passage in the context of justification by faith—if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” Since all orthodox Lutherans believe, teach, and confess that the Lutheran Symbols are a correct exposition of the Scriptures, they must accept this interpretation over their own opinions, even if their position is supported by Walther, Pieper, and the Missouri Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations. The following quotation shows a difference between reconciliation and justification, a distinction condemned by the CTCR. The CTCR document, used by many to club and abuse Lutherans, shows how little the LCMS leaders know about their own confessions.

If the new Lutherans are correct in claiming ancient truths, then their doctrine should be found consistently in dogmatic statements about justification. Error is not proved by its popularity or unpopularity, but we can expect that the central doctrine of Christianity has been taught properly by various church fathers through the ages. However, we can also assume that some statements are misunderstood or distorted in time, perhaps in spite of good intentions or as a result of doctrinal shorthand. The issue “in view of faith” (intuitu fidei) began with a correct statement truncated and repeated until it became institutionalized.[46]

a.      Correct – We are saved in view of faith apprehending the merits of Christ.

b.     Incorrect – We are saved in view of faith. The shortened version made people think that faith itself saves, as if faith were a virtue or a frame of mind generated by man.

If we are to avoid being tangled in endless disputes about words, we must avoid being wedded to each word of every single dead Lutheran, since our confession rests upon the Scriptures as the ruling norm of faith (norma normans) and the Book of Concord as the norm ruled  by the Scriptures (norma normata).

Few Lutherans today would repeat Luther’s prayer to Mary in his wonderful commentary on the Magnificat, as good as the small book is.[47] Our agreement with Luther rests upon a common confession of his words in the Small and Large Catechisms and in the Smalcald Articles. We do not write him off because of the prayer to Mary, especially because of his later preaching where this was corrected. It is obvious from the low level of doctrinal discussion among Lutherans today that Luther is seldom read in any form, that the Book of Concord has no authority for most of the so-called conservative Lutheran leaders. The leaders of the former Synodical Conference fall all over themselves attending joint conferences with ELCA apostates. All of the synods—ELCA, LCMS, WELS, ELS—consider George Barna, a Church Growth statistician, their authority in doctrine and practice.

 

The Universal Atonement

 

The origin of the current problem about justification can be found in the attempt to isolate the objective nature of Christ’s atoning death on the cross—which is true whether we believe it or not—from the purpose of the Word of God, to create justifying faith through the preaching of the Gospel. The Bible proclaims the saving work of Christ precisely so we believe this truth, hold it dear, and never depart from it. Anyone who tries to say that sins are forgiven, “whether we believe or not,” or that guilt is removed, “whether we believe it or not,” is making a mockery of the purpose of God’s Word. The proper expression, which can be found in Luther many times, is that Christ has died for the sins of the world, even if no one ever believes it. That teaching is the foundation of justification by faith, the objective truth of God’s Word, which we receive in faith.[48] The current crop of poorly educated Lutheran leaders has forgotten the double efficacy of the Word. The Word saves those who believe and damns those who reject the Gospel. The Sword of the Spirit converts and hardens, illuminates and blinds. Christ did in fact die for the sins of the whole world, even for the sins of Judas Iscariot, but unbelievers are damned for their unbelief.

A balanced description of justification can be found, and should be memorized, from the Large Catechism. In this passage from the Book of Concord, Luther balanced the universal, objective nature of the Atonement with the need for faith created by Gospel proclamation. In this passage, the Atonement is the work of God alone; the kindling of faith through the efficacious Word is the work of God alone. All Lutherans confess this truth, if they understand the Bible, the Fathers, Luther, and the Book of Concord.[49] Sadly, the Wisconsin Synod has rejected its own subscription to the Book of Concord in Arnold Koelpin’s essay, “Are We Bound Only to What the Confessions Teach?” The introduction to the essay states that the Confessions are relevant but not complete! Koelpin concluded his dynamite essay thus: “Are we, therefore, bound to teach only what the confessions teach? The Lutheran Confessions themselves rightly forbid such a conclusion. That honor belongs alone to the Scriptures.”[50]

 

Martin Luther, on Justification by Faith, Book of Concord

 

J-590

"For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which we could not attain ourselves."

            The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #38, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 689. Tappert, p. 415. Heiser, p. 194.

 

A similar expression of justification by faith, comparing the Gospel to treasure being distributed by the Holy Spirit, can be found in one of Luther’s sermons. We can see from many different examples in Luther and the Book of Concord that justification by faith is based upon the objective truth of the universal atonement of Christ, with an emphasis upon both elements, never with one emphasized at the expense of the other.

 

J-591

"It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through Him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies yet in one pile; it is not yet distributed nor invested. Consequently, if we are to possess it, the Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe and say: I, too, am one of those who are to have this treasure. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given the treasure to us, everything goes well, and it cannot be otherwise than that man's heart rejoices in God and lifts itself up, saying: Dear Father, if it is Thy will to show toward me such great love and faithfulness, which I cannot fully fathom, then will I also love Thee with all my heart and be joyful, and cheerfully do what pleases Thee. Thus, the heart does not now look at God with evil eyes, does not imagine He will cast us into hell, as it did before the Holy Spirit came...."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 279. Pentecost Sunday. John 14:23-31.

 

Advocates of Kokomo justification are forever stating that people are already forgiven. One ELS pastor made this comparison: “A man is sitting in a jail cell. But he does not know that the cell is not locked. All he needs to do is walk out!” Once again, the message is one of universalism: all sins are forgiven. This message is a modern form of anti-nomianism, cheaper than cheap grace, because the Law and contrition are forgotten. The second part—walking out of an unlocked cell—reminds us of the Billy Graham Crusade, except it is not as sophisticated as “making a decision for Christ.” One Lutheran was very disturbed by this statement about walking out of an unlocked jail cell. What happened to sin and repentance? Two liberal theologians, both very influential, F. Schleiermach and Paul Tillich, both taught justification as “accepting God’s acceptance.”[51] Although the Kokomo advocates do not realize it, because they are not well read, they are shamelessly repeating the liberal evasions of Schleiermacher and Tillich in the name of the Gospel. There is no forgiveness apart from the Means of Grace, as the following citation from the Book of Concord shows.

 

J-592

"But outside of this Christian Church, where the Gospel is not, there is no forgiveness, as also there can be no holiness [sanctification]. Therefore all who seek and wish to merit holiness [sanctification], not through the Gospel and forgiveness of sin, but by their works, have expelled and severed themselves [from this Church]."

            The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #56, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 418. Heiser, p. 195.

 

We can peer into the thinking of the Formula of Concord authors by reading their works. David Chytraeus is largely forgotten today, but he was highly regarded in his time. His Summary of the Christian Faith was printed for a century after his death in 1600. In the following quotation, several points are made.

  1. Justification takes place solely by faith.
  2. Man obtained forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ.
  3. Man becomes righteous when he believes.

It is easy to see how the second point was increasingly isolated by generations of church leaders, until it became another justification. Current leaders latch onto such statements and say, “Aha! Universal justification!” They could assign any particular name to it, without fault, if they portrayed God’s actions in harmony with the Scriptures. But they do not. By isolating the act of propitiation from the Means of Grace, by forgetting the efficacy of the Word, the Kokomo advocates make a muddle out of the Gospel. They have re-introduced the Reformed Monster of Uncertainty about salvation because their real authorities are Reformed and not Lutheran.[52] Chytraeus is clear and easy to follow in his statement about justification by faith.

 

David Chytraeus, Concordist, On Justification by Faith

 

J-593

"How is a person justified before God? This occurs solely by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ; that is, freely, not because of any works or merits of one's own but only because of the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, who became the sacrificial victim and propitiation on our behalf. By this sacrifice, man obtained forgiveness of sins and became righteous; that is, God-pleasing and acceptable. His righteousness was imputed to man for Christ's sake, and man becomes an heir of eternal life when he believes with certainty that God gives him these blessings for the sake of His Son."

            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 105.

 

"Christian righteousness is the forgiveness of sin, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and acceptance to eternal life. It is free, not the result of any virtues or works but is given solely because of Christ, the Mediator, and apprehended by faith alone."

            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 106.

"Scripture therefore uses these words, 'We are justified by faith,' to teach both: 1) What the reason (or merit) for justification is, or what the blessings of Christ are; to wit, that through and for the sake of Christ alone we are granted forgiveness of sins, righteousness and eternal life; and 2. How

these should be applied or transferred to us; namely, by embracing the promise and relying on Christ by faith alone."

            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 107.

 


 

Part Five: The CTCR Document as the Abomination of Desolation

 

One WELS church history professor, the late Edward Fredrich, published a paper in which he noted that every Lutheran anniversary was marked by a disaster in Lutheranism: the Prussian Union, the ULCA merger, the old ALC merger. To continue the tradition, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod celebrated the 500th anniversary of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther by publishing their execrable “Theses on Justification,” written by the anonymous Commission on Theology and Church Relations. LCMS President Ralph Bohlmann sent the document on May 9, 1983, in time for pastors and laity to burn it in honor of the Reformer, whose doctrine is completely overthrown by the imbecilic and contradictory statements in the paper. However, this did not happen. A few people objected, such as Pastor Vernon Harley, but the document soon became another extra-confessional norm in the Missouri Synod. “The theses are not intended to go beyond the pattern of thought and terminology of Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and the presentation of our respected Lutheran theologians in the past.”[53] To paraphrase Chemnitz, when the lesser lights of the Synodical Conference were given equal status with the Scriptures and Confessions, novel ideas about justification could only multiply.

The CTCR effort is one of the worst examples of declaring propositions to be true without study, explanation, or Scriptural exegesis. Each thesis is followed by a list of citations from the Bible and the Book of Concord. The definition of justification is contrary to the Bible and the Confessions, by omitting the crucial words “by faith.” Justification is “a forensic act whereby a person is counted righteous,” but never without faith.[54] By their omission of faith in justification, the Comission has declared war on the Scriptures and the Confessions. In addition, the authors also equated justification with redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, and atonement.

The CTCR Theses declare grandly: “It is contrary to Scripture and the pure Gospel to teach: That forgiveness and justification before God do not involve each other, or that justification and reconciliation are entirely different from each other, as though a person can be reconciled without being justified or justified without being reconciled.” Confessional statements are clarified by showing what false teachers have advocated. In this case it is difficult to imagine whether the CTCR has actual opponents in mind or straw men. Certainly forgiveness and justification involve each other. Has someone declared otherwise? And what does this pseudo-Barthian statement mean: “…as though a person can be reconciled without being justified,” etc.? Terms are used so sloppily that no one can tell what the Commission is trying to argue.

Poor writing skills degenerate into transparent lies when the CTCR declares that “it is Biblically and confessionally correct to refer to the great sin-cancelling, atoning work of the Redeemer as the ‘objective’ or ‘universal’ justification of the whole sinful human race.” The Bible never uses the terms subjective, or objective, or general or universal in connection with justification. The Book of Concord does not mention those terms at all. Advocates of two justifications, such as Kurt Marquart and Sig Becker, admit that the terms are not found in the Scriptures or the Book of Concord. It is intellectual fraud to declare something to be true without support or citations and then build an argument on the false foundation of unwarranted assumptions.

The two justifications are defined without any references whatsoever in the following way:

 

J-594

"Thus objective justification or reconciliation is the forgiveness of sins both as it has been acquired for the entire human race by Christ's work of obedience in its stead and declared by His resurrection, and as it is seriously and efficaciously offered to all in the means of grace."

Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, II. #5.

 

"Subjective justification or reconciliation is this same forgiveness as it is received, appropriated by, and applied to the individual sinner through God-given faith alone (sola fide)."

Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, II. #6.

 

The CTCR devoted section III to “The Nature of Justification (What Happens When the Sinner is Justified).” Theses 7 and 8 both speak of justification without mentioning faith. This error is compounded by another grand statement:

 

J-595

“It is contrary to Scripture and the pure Gospel to teach: That, although Christ by His work has earned forgiveness for all, there are still certain conditions which God demands of people before He will pronounce them righteous.”

Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, III. #8.

 

Confessional statements should be precise and clear, but this formula introduces the Monster of Uncertainty. Is faith now a demand? What an odd term for faith. Or do they mean something else? Any Lutheran graduate of Theology 101 knows that the efficacious Gospel produces faith, that faith receives the Gospel promise of forgiveness.

Section III announces that forgiveness has been earned for all, that all sins are forgiven. This is followed by Section IV, “Man’s Need for Justification,” a Law section. Why would this noteworthy commission declare the Gospel first and then the Law? The method is common to Moravian Pietism and denounced by Luther. However, since justification itself has been confused already, the meaning of the Law section is especially troubling. Section IV by itself is adequately written. The runt of the litter seems pretty healthy when the rest are still-born.

Section V, “The Basis of Justification,” is another misbegotten effort. One can hardly imagine that Lutheran theologians with access to the Book of Concord, Luther, and Chemnitz, could write so poorly about justification. Once again, “It is contrary to Scripture and the pure Gospel…” Why is that peculiar formulation used? Is the pure Gospel something other than what God reveals to us in the Scripture? I suspect that the men involved followed Karl Barth’s distinction between the Scriptures and the Word.

The lupine teeth and claws come out from under the fleece in Section VI. “The Universal and Finished Results of Christ’s Work of Obedience.” Note well:

 

J-596

  1. “Christ is the Savior of all. This means that the whole world of sinners has been redeemed, forgiven, and reconciled to God in Him.”

Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, VI. #19.

  1. “God, by raising His Son from the dead, has justified Him, declared Him to be the Righteous One, and in Him (i.e., for the sake of His finished work of obedience and satisfaction) has declared (as proclaimed in the Gospel), or reckoned, the whole world to be righteous.”

Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, VI. #22.

  1. “God has acquired the forgiveness of sins for all people by declaring that the world for Christ’s sake has been forgiven. The acquiring of forgiveness is the pronouncement of forgiveness.”

Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, VI. #23.

 

After establishing a vague Universalism, the CTCR devotes the next section to “Justification by Faith,” although the main heading is “The Appropriation of Christ’s Righteousness.” The rest of the document does not merit additional comment, because the entire structure is wrong from the beginning, even if isolated statements are correct by themselves. The “Theses on Justification” are a leaning tower of logs, like the one that collapsed at Texas A and M University, built badly on a soft foundation. One statement alone condemns the entire work, which contains many other errors, confusions, and fraudulent statements:

 

J-597

“It is contrary to Scripture and the pure Gospel to teach:…That it is not Biblical to speak of ‘objective justification.’

Commission on Theology and Church Relations "Theses on Justification" St. Louis: May, 1983, VI. #23.

 

The CTCR can belligerently advocate a position never found in the Bible, Luther, nor the Book of Concord, sidestep the obvious objections to their cause, and then condemn as anti-Scriptural the truth that “objective justification” is not found in Holy Writ. The entire Book of Concord only knows “justification by faith” and only imputes or reckons righteousness to those who believe in the Gospel. In addition, as I have shown, two Formula of Concord authors, Chemnitz and Chytraeus, wrote in other works about justification by faith. If they had imagined the entire world pronounced free of sin, they would have mentioned it. Instead, they kept this stealthy doctrine so well hidden that the favorite terms of the advocates were never used. Not only is “objective justification” or “universal justification” missing from their vocabulary, but so also are references to the universal absolution of Easter Sunday and the equation of reconciliation and justification. In short, the position of the CTCR is contrary to the Scriptures, Luther, and the Book of Concord.


 

Part Six: A Summary of Justification by Faith

 

Favorite Dual Justification Arguments and the Antidote

 

Objective or Universal Justification

The dual justification Lutherans argue in the following way: According to 2 Corinthians 5:19-21, Jesus took on the sins of the whole world in exchange for His righteousness, “not imputing their trespasses,” in spite of the frequent use of imputing in Romans 4 for justification by faith.

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

 

BYZ 2 Corinthians 5:19 w`j o[ti qeo.j h=n evn Cristw/| ko,smon katalla,sswn e`autw/| mh. logizo,menoj auvtoi/j ta. paraptw,mata auvtw/n kai. qe,menoj evn h`mi/n to.n lo,gon th/j katallagh/j.

 

At this time or at the resurrection, God declared the whole world “justified” through Jesus, although their proof-text applies to Jesus only.

 

KJV 1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

 

BYZ 1 Timothy 3:16 kai. o`mologoume,nwj me,ga evsti.n to. th/j euvsebei,aj musth,rion\ Qeo.j evfanerw,qh evn sarki, evdikaiw,qh evn pneu,mati w;fqh avgge,loij evkhru,cqh evn e;qnesin evpisteu,qh evn ko,smw| avnelh,fqh evn do,xh|.

 

When God declared Jesus justified, the entire world was justified at the same time, according to the tenets of Universal/Objective Justification. That means, according to their own statements, that everyone was declared innocent of sin whether they ever came to faith or not. Strangely, the advocates of this position delight in dwelling upon unbelief, repeatedly asserting that non-believers are saints, absolved of all sin, even Judas Iscariot and the residents of Hell.[55] However, the Christian Church has never observed a day for St. Judas Iscariot or St. Joseph Stalin. The Wisconsin Synod is especially tenacious in insisting that Romans 4:25 (divorced from Romans 4:24 and 5:1) means the resurrection of Jesus marked the absolution of the entire world.

 

KJV Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

 

BYZ Romans 4:24 avlla. kai. di h`ma/j oi-j me,llei logi,zesqai toi/j pisteu,ousin evpi. to.n evgei,ranta VIhsou/n to.n ku,rion h`mw/n evk nekrw/n.

 

All people were absolved of their sins, whether they ever came to faith or not. Therefore, God looks upon all people as without sin, declared innocent or justified. This is either called Objective Justification or Universal Justification. Two favorite citations are Romans 5:9 and John 1:29 –

 

KJV Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

 

BYZ Romans 5:6 e;ti ga.r Cristo.j o;ntwn h`mw/n avsqenw/n kata. kairo.n u`pe.r avsebw/n avpe,qanen.

 

KJV John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

 

BYZ John 1:29 Th/| evpau,rion ble,pei Îo` VIwa,nnhj to.n VIhsou/n evrco,menon pro.j auvto,n kai. le,gei :Ide o` avmno.j tou/ qeou/ o` ai;rwn th.n a`marti,an tou/ ko,smou.

 

Neither verse is unclear. Christ did in fact die for the ungodly, since all the uncoverted are ungodly. Jesus did bear the sins of the world on the cross. Even if we accept the force of “take away the sins of the world,” justification by faith is not subverted. The first part of the treasure analogy in the Book of Concord (the Large Catechism, J-545) is consistent with John 1:29. That verse, John 1:29, reveals John’s prophecy that the Lamb of God would bear the sins of the world, not that unbelievers would be absolved of their sins. If we take the claims of Universal Justification seriously, no person should be baptized, because we are born absolved from sin. The new Romanism has applied the Immaculate Conception of Mary to the entire human race, including the Hottentots (J-576).

The Missouri Synod leaders (and some others) will then say that this first justification does not save people from eternal damnation. Therefore, they also need a second justification, called Subjective Justification. Traditional Lutherans emphasize the Means of Grace and grasping or believing the promise of forgiveness found in the efficacious Gospel. However, many Objective Justification Lutherans (especially in WELS and the ELS) say that they only need to tell people they are already forgiven. In either case, the work of the Holy Spirit through the Law is neglected to the point of total silence. The efficacy of the Word is seldom mentioned. Both versions of Objective Justification emphasize the absolution of the world at the expense of faith.

 

The Antidote

 

All those who favor two justifications neglect of the efficacy of the Word, both in the Law and the Gospel. This leads them into a false identification of justification with reconciliation. Everything else is confusion and bewilderment. No one can make sense of their contradictory statements, so chaotic thinking gives the impression of intellectual brilliance and great learning. Some apostate Lutherans confuse their victims because they really do not believe what they are saying but must repeat it or risk the wrath of the dual justification fanatics. Others repeat the material in their dogmatics notes without conviction or enthusiasm, because Ancestor Worship is still being practiced in their synod and no one can disagree with Uncle Heinrich. Still others ride the wave of Objective Justification because they are liberal, unionistic Universalists. They can use the smoke and mirrors of Objective Justification to accomplish their generic Protestant goals, proving what the Church of Rome has always said, that Protestantism is a half-way house on the road to Unitarianism and to Hell.[56]

However, in this muddle caused by false teachers, we must allow for those who use the term Objective Justification as a synonym for the atoning sacrifice of Christ. That is how I used the term in Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant. Those who use Objective Justification innocently have responded to early drafts of this chapter. These men do not believe that God grants forgiveness without the Means of Grace and without faith. They want to emphasize the universal and non-conditional nature of the atonement of Christ, that is, to emphasize that Jesus died for all sins and remains the source of comfort for all contrite sinners. The atonement remains true whether anyone believes in the cross or not. Nevertheless, God bestows His forgiveness only through the Word and Sacraments and never apart from the Means of Grace.

At this point, because of the official actions of the Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod, as well as the me-too-ism of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Church of the Lutheran Confession, we must reject the philosophical terms (General Justification, Subjective Justification, Objective Justification, and especially Universal Justification) and return to the Biblical terms used by the Book of Concord (atonement, redemption, propitiation) and the Pauline concept of justification by faith.

 

The historical argument against Objective Justification:

 

No one can claim that the term Objective Justification is found in the Book of Concord. The lack of a term is not proof by itself.[57] However, the advocates insist on their term and trace its use to Francis Pieper, the concept to C. F. W. Walther, and the European origins to Calov and Gerhard. However, justification before God (coram Deo) is a specific and precise Biblical term, always meaning being declared innocent and always by faith alone. The Biblical and Confessional argument against the term Objective Justification is so powerful that Objective Justification proponents seek to neutralize it by briefly conceding that they cannot find it in the Bible or Confessions either. However, this is what they are saying, “Our favorite doctrine, which we use to excommunicate people, even though they are guilt-free saints, cannot be grounded in the term justification in the Bible or in the Book of Concord. But that does not matter to us, because the concept is there.”

 

The argument based upon the efficacy of the Word:

 

If Lutherans believe that the Holy Spirit always works through the Word, both Law and Gospel, so that Law and Gospel are always efficacious, then the basic assumptions of Objective Justification are entirely false. One cannot have a guilt-free and yet unbelieving world. What would be the purpose of the Law or the meaning of God’s wrath? Indeed, and what would be the reason to absolve the forgiven? The Objective Justification people have found something more vain than to write vainly about vanity, and that is to preach forgiveness to the forgiven. If anything is clear in the Scriptures, it is this, that the Gospel grants forgiveness to those who believe in Jesus as their Savior and condemns those who reject Him.

 

KJV John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

 

BYZ John 3:36 o` pisteu,wn eivj to.n ui`o.n e;cei zwh.n aivw,nion\ o` de. avpeiqw/n tw/| ui`w/| ouvk o;yetai th,n zwh,n avll h` ovrgh. tou/ qeou/ me,nei evp auvto,n.

 

The argument identifying reconciliation with justification:

 

The Greek word for reconciliation is found infrequently in the New Testament, including related forms: Romans 5:10-11 (three times); Romans 11:15(once); 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (five times); 1 Corinthians 7:11 (for marriage). The total is ten uses of the term. We can see that the term, as a noun or a verb, is clustered in two places and only Paul uses the term. In contrast, the Greek words for righteousness, justification, and justify occur well over 100 times - throughout the New Testament. Therefore, the equation of reconciliation and justification rests upon two or three passages – Romans 4:25, Romans 5:10-11; and 2 Corinthians 5:19-21. The strongest part of the Objective Justification argument is the phrase from 2 Corinthians 5:19 – “not imputing their trespasses against them.” As we have shown, Paul uses this phrase consistently with reference to justification by faith, in Romans 4 leading up to the great declaration of Romans 5:1-2. Moreover, in 2 Corinthians 5:19-21, reconciliation is used to describe the atoning death of Christ but “the Word of reconciliation” is the ministry entrusted to Paul and his co-workers.

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

 

BYZ 2 Corinthians 5:19 w`j o[ti qeo.j h=n evn Cristw/| ko,smon katalla,sswn e`autw/| mh. logizo,menoj auvtoi/j ta. paraptw,mata auvtw/n kai. qe,menoj evn h`mi/n to.n lo,gon th/j katallagh/j.

 

This reconciliation is a wonderful and gracious event, predicted in Genesis 3:15, the centerpiece of all human history. All those in the Old Testament who believed in the coming Messiah were justified by God, as were all those who received the Word of reconciliation from the preaching of the Apostles.[58] We should not object to any statement about God’s justice being satisfied by the sacrifice or forgiveness already being won (as expressed by Luther in the Large Catechism). On the cross, Christ did earn forgiveness for sinners. Everything needed was accomplished by the Son of God. This truth is best expressed by the two Greek words for redemption: a) paying the price for our sins; b) setting us free from our sins. Combining reconciliation with justification, as if they are one and the same, confuses what God has done in the Atonement with how God conveys the blessings of forgiveness to us in the Means of Grace. Objective Justification also confuses the redemption of the world with the justification of the believer. Similarly, when people confuse justification with sanctification (the Christian life), and make sanctification a requirement for justification, salvation by works will necessarily bull its way back into Lutheranism, as we see with all forms of Pietism. So we can see why the confusion of reconciliation with justification has precipitated the ruin of Lutheranism in America. Once justification by faith is destroyed, any foul error may enter.

 

4. The argument showing the proper understanding of Romans 4:25 and 5:6:

 

The plain words of Scripture do not state that “the whole world was absolved of sin on Easter” or anything similar to that notion. Romans 4:25 is only a phrase, not a complete sentence. If we cite the complete sentence, justification by faith comes to the foreground. In addition, justification by faith is taught by Paul in this passage in the context of imputing or reckoning righteousness through faith, not apart from faith. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession reveals exactly the same understanding, and not a new one, distinguishing between reconciliation and justification.[59]

 

KJV Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

 

BYZ Romans 4:23 Ouvk evgra,fh de. di auvto.n mo,non o[ti evlogi,sqh auvtw/| 24  avlla. kai. di h`ma/j oi-j me,llei logi,zesqai toi/j pisteu,ousin evpi. to.n evgei,ranta VIhsou/n to.n ku,rion h`mw/n evk nekrw/n 25  o]j paredo,qh dia. ta. paraptw,mata h`mw/n kai. hvge,rqh dia. th.n dikai,wsin h`mw/n

 

Once again, the claim for proof of Objective Justification must be examined in context. Romans 5:6 also has a context.

 

KJV Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

 

BYZ Romans 5:6 e;ti ga.r Cristo.j o;ntwn h`mw/n avsqenw/n kata. kairo.n u`pe.r avsebw/n avpe,qanen 7 mo,lij ga.r u`pe.r dikai,ou tij avpoqanei/tai\ u`pe.r ga.r tou/ avgaqou/ ta,ca tij kai. tolma/| avpoqanei/n\ 8 suni,sthsin de. th.n e`autou/ avga,phn eivj h`ma/j o` qeo.j o[ti e;ti a`martwlw/n o;ntwn h`mw/n Cristo.j u`pe.r h`mw/n avpe,qanen 9 pollw/| ou=n ma/llon dikaiwqe,ntej nu/n evn tw/| ai[mati auvtou/ swqhso,meqa di auvtou/ avpo. th/j ovrgh/j. 10 eiv ga.r evcqroi. o;ntej kathlla,ghmen tw/| qew/| dia. tou/ qana,tou tou/ ui`ou/ auvtou/ pollw/| ma/llon katallage,ntej swqhso,meqa evn th/| zwh/| auvtou/\

 

The Atonement is presented in a three-fold manner in Romans 5

a.      When we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly. (verse 6)

b.     While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (verse 8) 

c.      When we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to God by His Son’s death. (verse 10).

 

Those who believe in justification by faith are perplexed that this passage could be presented with awe and surprise as the foundation for Objective Justification. The unified, harmonious portrait of the Redemption, in the Old and New Testaments, presents the Messiah dying for our sins in spite of our unworthiness. Christ could not possibly die for the godly, for the absolved, or for the friends of God. To say that Romans 5:6 teaches Objective Justification is a straw man argument, since no sane Lutheran has urged others to think Christ died for the worthy. Furthermore, Romans 4 and 5 present justification of the individual by faith, especially in this passage.

 

KJV Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

 

BYZ Romans 5:9 pollw/| ou=n ma/llon dikaiwqe,ntej nu/n evn tw/| ai[mati auvtou/ swqhso,meqa di auvtou/ avpo. th/j ovrgh/j.

 

The wrath of God is reserved for unbelievers. Contrariwise, faith in Christ removes the wrath of God. Objective Justification salesmen would have us believe that the wrath of God was removed from all of mankind at the crucifixion of Christ or at the moment of His resurrection, regardless of faith. The perversion of justification by faith confounds the meaning of the reconciliation by making it seem as if it is not necessary to believe in the Gospel. In some cases, faith in Christ is tacked onto the end of the Objective Justification message, but that only makes matters worse in the midst of doctrinal confusion.

 

The wrath of God can be studied in the context of the New Testament.

 

KJV John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

 

BYZ John 3:36 o` pisteu,wn eivj to.n ui`o.n e;cei zwh.n aivw,nion\ o` de. avpeiqw/n tw/| ui`w/| ouvk o;yetai th,n zwh,n avll h` ovrgh. tou/ qeou/ me,nei evp auvto,n.

 

KJV Romans 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

 

BYZ Romans 2:5 kata. de. th.n sklhro,thta, sou kai. avmetano,hton kardi,an qhsauri,zeij seautw/| ovrgh.n evn h`me,ra| ovrgh/j kai. avpokalu,yewj kai. dikaiokrisi,aj tou/ qeou/.

 

KJV Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

 

BYZ Romans 5:9 pollw/| ou=n ma/llon dikaiwqe,ntej nu/n evn tw/| ai[mati auvtou/ swqhso,meqa di auvtou/ avpo. th/j ovrgh/j.

 

KJV Romans 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

 

BYZ Romans 9:22 eiv de. qe,lwn o` qeo.j evndei,xasqai th.n ovrgh.n kai. gnwri,sai to. dunato.n auvtou/ h;negken evn pollh/| makroqumi,a| skeu,h ovrgh/j kathrtisme,na eivj avpw,leian 23 kai. i[na gnwri,sh| to.n plou/ton th/j do,xhj auvtou/ evpi. skeu,h evle,ouj a] prohtoi,masen eivj do,xan.

 

KJV Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

 

BYZ Ephesians 2:3 evn oi-j kai. h`mei/j pa,ntej avnestra,fhme,n pote evn tai/j evpiqumi,aij th/j sarko.j h`mw/n poiou/ntej ta. qelh,mata th/j sarko.j kai. tw/n dianoiw/n kai. h;men te,kna fu,sei ovrgh/j w`j kai. oi` loipoi,\ 4 o` de. qeo.j plou,sioj w'n evn evle,ei dia. th.n pollh.n avga,phn auvtou/ h]n hvga,phsen h`ma/j 5 kai. o;ntaj h`ma/j nekrou.j toi/j paraptw,masin sunezwopoi,hsen tw/| Cristw/| ca,riti, evste sesw|sme,noi.

 

KJV 1 Thessalonians 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

 

BYZ 1 Thessalonians 1:10 kai. avname,nein to.n ui`o.n auvtou/ evk tw/n ouvranw/n o]n h;geiren evk tw/n nekrw/n VIhsou/n to.n r`uo,menon h`ma/j avpo. th/j ovrgh/j th/j evrcome,nhj.

 

KJV Revelation 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

 

BYZ Revelation 6:16 kai. le,gousin toi/j o;resin kai. tai/j pe,traij Pe,sete evf h`ma/j kai. kru,yate h`ma/j avpo. prosw,pou tou/ kaqhme,nou evpi. tou/ qro,nou kai. avpo. th/j ovrgh/j tou/ avrni,ou.

 

KJV Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

 

BYZ Revelation 19:15 kai. evk tou/ sto,matoj auvtou/ evkporeu,etai r`omfai,a di,stomoj ovxei/a i[na evn auvth/| pata,xh| ta. e;qnh kai. auvto.j poimanei/ auvtou.j evn r`a,bdw| sidhra/| kai. auvto.j patei/ th.n lhno.n tou/ oi;nou tou/ qumou/ th/j ovrgh/j tou/ qeou/ tou/ pantokra,toroj.

 

5. The argument showing the proper understanding of John:

 

Proponents of Objective Justification destroy the meaning of John 1:29 to make their point:

 

KJV John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

 

BYZ John 1:29 Th/| evpau,rion ble,pei o` VIwa,nnhj to.n VIhsou/n evrco,menon pro.j auvto,n kai. le,gei :Ide o` avmno.j tou/ qeou/ o` ai;rwn th.n a`marti,an tou/ ko,smou.

 

John 1:29 does not mean that the sin of the world is gone, but that the Lamb of God bears the sin of the world. This sin-bearing is not a minor distinction. The use of John illustrates the laziness of modern Lutherans, who simply copy a list of citations from another source, citing the place where the Word of God may be found without quoting the Word. It is far more work to deal with the text itself in its setting. Many hours can be spent with the Book of Concord Concordance or the Scriptural index of the Triglotta, trying to discover how the Confessors dealt with these passages. When the Concordists used Church Fathers as authorities, they took the time to quote them. When they mentioned Scriptures, they quoted the passages verbatim or paraphrased them. How easy it is to list where a few passages may be found and say, “Aha! I have proven my case, because all of us cite the same code after our identical opinions.” No one is edified by “John 1:29” when it is not quoted.[60] No one is built up by “FC SD III,” especially since many Lutheran laity have never cracked the Book of Concord and cannot explain the authority of the Formula of Concord or the difference between the Thorough Declaration and the Epitome.

We have to ask this about John 1:29: What does it mean to take away or bear the sins of the world? Without question Jesus died to pay for the sins of the world, earning forgiveness. Therefore, the emphasis upon redeeming the sins of the world is essential. That redemption is the treasure of the Atonement. On the cross, Jesus paid the price for everyone’s sin in spite of our lack of faith or worthiness at the time. Lutherans must teach the whole counsel of God, properly and in balance, not with an undue emphasis upon one part of the unified Word of Truth at the expense of another aspect of divine revelation. Forgiveness does not come to the individual apart from the Word in the Means of Grace.

Christians need to read the complete Gospel of John, many times over, to grasp the context of a given verse or passage. It helps to read the Gospel in various languages to see how simple words bring out a profound message. Matthew and Luke are more difficult in Greek. John’s Greek is childlike in its simplicity and repetition. However, anyone who looks down upon John as simple Greek will soon learn that the most powerful thunderbolts come from the Fourth Gospel. The Apostle John proclaims God’s love with so much warmth that it can truly be called the Gospel about Love. Luther compared the Gospel to the radiant heat of a warm furnace or fireplace. Anyone can experience that love in John’s Gospel, but wrath and judgment are not absent.

 

KJV John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

 

BYZ John 3:36 o` pisteu,wn eivj to.n ui`o.n e;cei zwh.n aivw,nion\ o` de. avpeiqw/n tw/| ui`w/| ouvk o;yetai th,n zwh,n avll h` ovrgh. tou/ qeou/ me,nei evp auvto,n.

 

Luther and the Concordists emphasized faith, since salvation by works was taught with such ferocity then, just as it is now. Martin Chemnitz, the leading theologian of the Formula of Concord was just as anxious to write about justification by faith in his Loci as modern Lutherans are to speak about justification without faith. The Holy Spirit teaches us about the sacrificial death of Christ and the results of believing or not believing the Good News. Both forgiveness of sin and salvation are received through faith, according to the Scriptures. Anyone who does not believe is condemned and subject to the wrath of God. Therefore, from the Johannine passages alone, it is impossible to maintain that John 1:29 signifies a world without sin and condemnation.

 

KJV John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

BYZ John 3:14 kai. kaqw.j Mwsh/j u[ywsen to.n o;fin evn th/| evrh,mw| ou[twj u`ywqh/nai dei/ to.n ui`o.n tou/ avnqrw,pou 15 i[na pa/j o` pisteu,wn eivj auvto.n mh. avpo,lhtai( avllV e;ch| zwh.n aivw,nion 16 Ou[twj ga.r hvga,phsen o` qeo.j to.n ko,smon w[ste to.n ui`o.n auvtou/ to.n monogenh/ e;dwken i[na pa/j o` pisteu,wn eivj auvto.n mh. avpo,lhtai avll e;ch| zwh.n aivw,nion 17 ouv ga.r avpe,steilen o` qeo.j to.n ui`o.n auvtou/ eivj to.n ko,smon i[na kri,nh| to.n ko,smon avll i[na swqh/| o` ko,smoj di auvtou/ 18 o` pisteu,wn eivj auvto.n ouv kri,netai\ o` de. mh. pisteu,wn h;dh ke,kritai o[ti mh. pepi,steuken eivj to. o;noma tou/ monogenou/j ui`ou/ tou/ qeou/.

 

KJV 1 John 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

 

BYZ 1 John 5:10 o` pisteu,wn eivj to.n ui`o.n tou/ qeou/ e;cei th.n marturi,an evn auvtw/| o` mh. pisteu,wn tw/| qew/| yeu,sthn pepoi,hken auvto,n o[ti ouv pepi,steuken eivj th.n marturi,an h]n memartu,rhken o` qeo.j peri. tou/ ui`ou/ auvtou/ 11 kai. au[th evsti.n h` marturi,a o[ti zwh.n aivw,nion e;dwken h`mi/n o` qeo,j kai. au[th h` zwh. evn tw/| ui`w/| auvtou/ evstin.

 

KJV John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

 

BYZ John 8:24 ei=pon ou=n u`mi/n o[ti avpoqanei/sqe evn tai/j a`marti,aij u`mw/n\ eva.n ga.r mh. pisteu,shte o[ti evgw, eivmi avpoqanei/sqe evn tai/j a`marti,aij u`mw/n.

 

KJV John 10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

 

BYZ John 10:25 avpekri,qh auvtoi/j o` VIhsou/j Ei=pon u`mi/n kai. ouv pisteu,ete\ ta. e;rga a] evgw. poiw/ evn tw/| ovno,mati tou/ patro,j mou tau/ta marturei/ peri. evmou/\ 26 avllV u`mei/j ouv pisteu,ete ouv ga.r evste. evk tw/n proba,twn tw/n evmw/n kaqw.j ei=pon u`mi/nÅ

 

KJV John 12:39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

 

BYZ John 12:39 dia. tou/to ouvk hvdu,nanto pisteu,ein o[ti pa,lin ei=pen VHsai<aj 40 Tetu,flwken auvtw/n tou.j ovfqalmou.j kai. pepw,rwken auvtw/n th.n kardi,an i[na mh. i;dwsin toi/j ovfqalmoi/j kai. noh,swsin th/| kardi,a| kai. evpistrafw/sin kai. iva,swmai auvtou,j.

 

KJV John 12:47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

 

BYZ John 12:47 kai. eva,n ti,j mou avkou,sh| tw/n r`hma,twn kai. mh. pisteu,sh|( evgw. ouv kri,nw auvto,n ouv ga.r h=lqon i[na kri,nw to.n ko,smon avll i[na sw,sw to.n ko,smon 48 o` avqetw/n evme. kai. mh. lamba,nwn ta. r`h,mata, mou e;cei to.n kri,nonta auvto,n\ o` lo,goj o]n evla,lhsa evkei/noj krinei/ auvto.n evn th/| evsca,th| h`me,ra|.

 

KJV John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

 

BYZ John 16:8 kai. evlqw.n evkei/noj evle,gxei to.n ko,smon peri. a`marti,aj kai. peri. dikaiosu,nhj kai. peri. kri,sewj\ 9 peri. a`marti,aj me,n o[ti ouv pisteu,ousin eivj evme,\ 10 peri. dikaiosu,nhj de, o[ti pro.j to.n pate,ra mou u`pa,gw kai. ouvke,ti qewrei/te, me\ 11 peri. de. kri,sewj o[ti o` a;rcwn tou/ ko,smou tou,tou ke,kritai 12 :Eti polla. e;cw le,gein u`mi/n avll ouv du,nasqe basta,zein a;rti\

 

Additional New Testament Passages

 

KJV Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

 

BYZ Acts 10:43 tou,tw| pa,ntej oi` profh/tai marturou/sin a;fesin a`martiw/n labei/n dia. tou/ ovno,matoj auvtou/ pa,nta to.n pisteu,onta eivj auvto,n.

 

KJV Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

 

BYZ Romans 3:26 evn th/| avnoch/| tou/ qeou/ pro.j e;ndeixin th/j dikaiosu,nhj auvtou/ evn tw/| nu/n kairw/| eivj to. ei=nai auvto.n di,kaion kai. dikaiou/nta to.n evk pi,stewj VIhsou/.

 

 

KJV Acts 13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

 

BYZ Acts 13:38 gnwsto.n ou=n e;stw u`mi/n a;ndrej avdelfoi, o[ti dia. tou,tou u`mi/n a;fesij a`martiw/n katagge,lletai 39 kai, avpo, pa,ntwn w;n ouvk hvdunh,qhte evn tw/| no,mw| Mwu?se,wj dikaiwqh/nai evn tou,tw| pa/j o` pisteu,wn dikaiou/tai.

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

 

BYZ 2 Corinthians 4:4 evn oi-j o` qeo.j tou/ aivw/noj tou,tou evtu,flwsen ta. noh,mata tw/n avpi,stwn eivj to. mh. auvga,sai auvtoi/j to.n fwtismo.n tou/ euvaggeli,ou th/j do,xhj tou/ Cristou/ o[j evstin eivkw.n tou/ qeou/.

 

KJV 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

 

BYZ 1 Thessalonians 2:13 dia. tou/to Kai. h`mei/j euvcaristou/men tw/| qew/| avdialei,ptwj o[ti paralabo,ntej lo,gon avkoh/j par h`mw/n tou/ qeou/ evde,xasqe ouv lo,gon avnqrw,pwn avlla. kaqw,j evstin avlhqw/j lo,gon qeou/ o]j kai. evnergei/tai evn u`mi/n toi/j pisteu,ousin.

 

KJV Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

 

BYZ Hebrews 10:38 o` de. di,kaio,j evk pi,stewj zh,setai kai. eva.n u`postei,lhtai ouvk euvdokei/ h` yuch, mou evn auvtw/| 39 h`mei/j de. ouvk evsme.n u`postolh/j eivj avpw,leian avlla. pi,stewj eivj peripoi,hsin yuch/j.

 

The argument against Ancestor Worship:

 

Some Lutherans will respond to criticism of Objective Justification by saying, “Are you calling C. F. W. a false teacher?” They are implying by this question that C. F. W. Walther could not possibly be wrong about anything. Similarly, a few Lutherans would like all the works of Pieper, Walther, and Stoeckhardt shunned because of statements supporting Objective Justification.

a.      First of all, we must remember that all controversial issues must be addressed by the study of the Scriptures and the Book of Concord, using reliable translations or the original languages. The muddier the water, the more we need to return to the source. In the Scriptures and the Confessions we have a solid foundation for discussion.

b.     No faithful theologian would want to chain Christians to his errors. The greatest of theologians, Augustine and Luther, have stated this, knowing that their best efforts did not make them infallible. It does no one any credit to use an essay or sermon from the past, elevating it above the Scriptures and Confessions because the author is highly regarded.

c.      The Crypto-Calvinists (see Chapter Seven) in Lutheranism today cunningly defend their promotion of false doctrine by mentioning, for example, that not all the hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal were written by Lutherans. They forget the doctrinal review process that eliminated or changed hymns not in harmony with the pure Word of God.[61] Similarly, Melanchthon promoted false doctrine, but we subscribe to his Augsburg Confession and the Apology. However, we do not subscribe to his errors, which coincide with the toxic doctrine of Crypto-Calvinism today.

d.     Lutherans must face issues that may divide or disturb their visible organizations. A contrived and compromising peace will destroy souls even if it seems to be promoting financial prosperity.

 

Dr. Robert Preus summarized the issue well in his last book: "But the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the sinner takes place when the Holy Spirit brings him to faith through Baptism and the Word of the Gospel. Our sins were imputed to Christ at His suffering and death, imputed objectively after He, by His active and passive obedience, fulfilled and procured all righteousness for us. But the imputation of His righteousness to us takes place when we are brought to faith."[62]

 

 


 

Brief Comparison of the Two Positions on Justification

 

Justification by Faith
Universal/Objective Justification

The term is found throughout the Bible and

Book of Concord

The terms are never found in the Bible or

Book of Concord

Christ atoned for the sins of the world through His death on the cross because of God’s grace.

The resurrection is God’s justification of Jesus.

1 Timothy 3:16

The world was pronounced free of sin when Christ died on the cross or rose from the dead. Romans 4:25 and 1 Timothy 3:16.

Reconciliation is synonymous with atonement.

2 Corinthians 5:19

Reconciliation and justification are the same.

2 Corinthians 5:19

Man is forgiven when he receives the Word of Reconciliation in faith.

Romans 5:1-2. John 3:16.

Man is already forgiven, whether he believes or not. The Word of Reconciliation means telling him he is already forgiven. John 1:29.

The Word is efficacious in the Law, creating a contrite heart ready to hear the Gospel.

The Law is almost completely ignored.

The residents of Hell are guilt-free saints.

The efficacious Gospel converts and justifies the individual through faith.

Subjective justification means receiving the message of Objective Justification in faith.

The Word is always efficacious,

 converting and damning.

Unbelief damns the individual.

John 16:8-9.

The efficacy of the Word is seldom mentioned, since pronouncing forgiveness upon the unbelieving world without means is at war with the Means of Grace.

Justification by faith is consistent with Luther, the Book of Concord, and the writings of the Concordists.

The terminology is traced to Walther, Pieper, Stoeckhardt, Hoenecke,

J. P. Meyer, and

Lutheran Church Growth leaders.

 

 


Appendix: Synonyms for Atonement

 

The Kokomo justification debate has confused people on the issues to such a degree that we must return to the Scriptures to establish again what the Holy Spirit has said, without the help of a paid, synodical doctrinal commission. Certain vivid terms are used by God in connection with salvation, so it is useful to outline their use. This approach has many shortcomings and lacks the elegance of many textbooks, but this chapter is aimed at helping people with their study of the issue rather than parroting a career-enhancing argument.

 

Terms

 

  1. Reconciliation katallagh. (katallage) – Christ exchanged His righteousness for our sin. This term is used in Romans 5:10, 5:11 (atonement), b) 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
  2. Redemption as a purchase – (avgora,zw agorazo) 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1.
  3. Redemption as release – (avpolu,trwsij apolutrosis), (avpolu,w apoluo – to release, dismiss; used for divorce or release of a prisoner). Christ paid for the sins of the world. The term is used in Romans 3:24, 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:7, 14, 4:30; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12, 15. (lu,tron lutron – ransom, Matthew 20:28 (Mark 10:45). 1 Timothy 2:6.
  4. Propitiation – (i`lasth,rion hilasterion. Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:5. (i`lasmo,j hilasmos – 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10.
  5. Blood of Christ. (ai-ma haima). 1 Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:2, 19; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5.

 

 

 

Since by Man Came Death

 

When Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, God pronounced a curse upon the serpent, but in the curse was also a promise. The skeptics, scoffers, and dabblers in Scripture have great difficulty with this promise. They cannot see it, refuse to see it, and teach against it. Pride blinds and hardens them, while the Holy Spirit reveals the promise to believers. The Savior will be born of a woman and destroy the power of Satan, crushing his head. This proclamation is the first Promise of the Bible, called the Protoevangelium (Latin for First Gospel).

 

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

 

This Gospel does not rest upon the goodness of man. Quite the contrary. The mercy of God contrasts sharply with man’s lack of merit. The loving-kindness of God is revealed in the promise being given at the lowest point in the life of Adam and Eve. They had lost Paradise not only for themselves but also for all future generations.[63] No mere human being could atone for this great calamity, but the God-man Christ was promised in Genesis 3:15 as the remedy for Adam’s sin and for all sin.

If this first promise is isolated by itself, a trick used by liberal scholars who spend years blinding themselves and a lifetime misleading others, we have only a little information told in a cryptic fashion. But the Word of God cannot be stripped down like a stolen Corvette and used for its parts. Each word and verse is united with the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that Old and New Testaments join together in the complete message and yet retain their distinctive characteristics, illuminating without being lost in the whole. Seen in this light, the First Gospel shows God’s mercy and love, His determination to save man from sin, and His omniscience in knowing how He would provide salvation through His Son. Hundreds of passages in both Testaments are anchored by the First Gospel, the specific promise of the Messiah to Adam and Eve.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 15:21 evpeidh. ga.r di avnqrw,pou o` qa,natoj kai. di avnqrw,pou avna,stasij nekrw/n.

 

Lenski 1 Corinthians 15:21For since by man death, by man also resurrection from death.[64]

 

The annoying habit of the KJV, italicizing words not found in the original, proves helpful in this verse. The verb is not found in the Greek text, so the emphasis is even greater than we believe at first reading. Through Adam, all death; through Christ, all resurrection from the dead. This is restated in verse 22: All must die because of original sin inherited from Adam; all are made alive in Christ.[65]

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 15:22 w[sper ga.r evn tw/| VAda.m pa,ntej avpoqnh,|skousin ou[twj kai. evn tw/| Cristw/| pa,ntej zw|opoihqh,sontai.

 

The use of “all” is especially informative for those mired in Kokomo justification. Is the apostle telling us that every single person who has died will be made alive in Christ? The next verse refutes that notion.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 15:23 e[kastoj de. evn tw/| ivdi,w| ta,gmati\ avparch. Cristo,j e;peita oi` tou/ Cristou/ evn th/| parousi,a| auvtou/.

 

Therefore, “all” must refer only to those with saving faith. Although one might make the point from John 5 that all will be raised from the dead, Paul is clearly writing about resurrection to eternal life. This chapter will show that advocates of Kokomo justification miss the distinction between Christ dying for the sins of the world (atonement, reconciliation, redemption) and justification by faith. Some would harmonize their problems by speaking of two justifications, the first objective, the second subjective. Lenski favors the term reconciliation, objective reconciliation, then subjective reconciliation.[66] He also describes two reconciliations in 2 Corinthians 5:18.[67] Lenski properly warns against thinking “of only the objective fact….” Could we not dispense with objective and subjective?[68] The atoning death of Christ is the objective truth. The message of the death and resurrection of Christ is the Gospel. This unfortunate solution confuses the doctrine of justification by faith and diminishes its importance, a peculiar fruit of recent Lutheran teaching. The Bible does not use justification in two different ways, nor should we. The Book of Concord always uses justification by faith alone, and so should we. Clumsy terminology cannot be improved by patching together such odd claims as this: “God has declared all of us guilt-free saints, whether we believe or not, but it does not do us any good unless we believe.” How far Lutheran writing has sunk since Luther’s concise statement, which we confess, in the Large Catechism, the Creed, Article III!

 

He Died for All

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

 

BYZ 2 Corinthians 5:14 h` ga.r avga,ph tou/ Cristou/ sune,cei h`ma/j kri,nantaj tou/to o[ti Îeiv ei-j u`pe.r pa,ntwn avpe,qanen a;ra oi` pa,ntej avpe,qanon\ 15 kai. u`pe.r pa,ntwn avpe,qanen i[na oi` zw/ntej mhke,ti e`autoi/j zw/sin avlla. tw/| u`pe.r auvtw/n avpoqano,nti kai. evgerqe,nti.

 

John Calvin and his loyal followers have a peculiar notion that Christ died only for the elect. The theological term for this error is “limited atonement,” similar to “partial forgiveness.” The universal nature of the atoning death of Christ cannot be overstated, due to our sinful desire to turn salvation into a transaction in which we contribute worthiness, contrition, or the correct attitude. In addition, in despair man thinks that not all of his sins have been paid for—some, but not all. Or in despair, one sin is reserved in the mind as unforgivable, often with the help of others who are anxious to accuse. In other cases, gross carnal sins (drunkenness, assault) are considered worse than subtle, covert sins, such as coveting and slander.

The atoning death of Jesus should be taught so that all sinners, that is, all people know that the source of their forgiveness, their salvation, their promise of eternal life is nothing other than Christ crucified. In addition, all believers should realize that when they fall into temptation, and sin again, they are restored through Christ. The power of the Gospel gives us the strength to overcome temptation, although we will never be without sin in this life. Unfortunately, many people think of the Christian faith only in terms of judgment, law, and condemnation. All ministers and laity should consider this attitude in their discussion of Law and Gospel, so that the Gospel predominates and no one doubts the extent of God’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

 

John 1:29

KJV John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

 

German 1912 (slightly revised from Luther) John 1:29 Des andern Tages sieht Johannes Jesum zu ihm kommen und spricht: Siehe, das ist Gottes Lamm, welches der Welt Sünde trägt! [bears the sin]

 

German 1993 John 1:29 Am folgenden Tag sieht er Jesus zu sich kommen und spricht: Siehe, das Lamm Gottes, das die Sünde der Welt wegnimmt! [takes away the sin]

 

BYZ John 1:29 Th/| evpau,rion ble,pei o` VIwa,nnhj to.n VIhsou/n evrco,menon pro.j auvto,n kai. le,gei :Ide o` avmno.j tou/ qeou/ o` ai;rwn th.n a`marti,an tou/ ko,smou.

 

This is such a favorite text of the Universal Justification advocates that I regret taking it away from them. The Luther version translates the verb as “bears” while the newest German version uses “takes away” the sin of the world. Lenski favors “takes away” for the meaning of the Greek verb. We cannot find a vast difference in translating the verb one way or another, so this is not like the Great Commission, where the transitive “teach” is perverted into “make”.[69] However, the way in which we understand the passage in its context does make an enormous difference.

 

Colossians 1:19-22

Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

 

BYZ Colossians 1:19 o[ti evn auvtw/| euvdo,khsen pa/n to. plh,rwma katoikh/sai 20 kai. di auvtou/ avpokatalla,xai ta. pa,nta eivj auvto,n eivrhnopoih,saj dia. tou/ ai[matoj tou/ staurou/ auvtou/ di auvtou/ ei;te ta. evpi. th/j gh/j ei;te ta. evpi. toi/j ouvranoi/j 21 Kai. u`ma/j pote o;ntaj avphllotriwme,nouj kai. evcqrou.j th/| dianoi,a| evn toi/j e;rgoij toi/j ponhroi/j nuni, de, avpokath,llaxen 22 evn tw/| sw,mati th/j sarko.j auvtou/ dia. tou/ qana,tou parasth/sai u`ma/j a`gi,ouj kai. avmw,mouj kai. avnegklh,touj katenw,pion auvtou/.

 

Redemption as Purchase – agorazo.

From the curse of the law

 

KJV Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

 

BYZ Galatians 3:13 Cristo.j h`ma/j evxhgo,rasen evk th/j kata,raj tou/ no,mou geno,menoj u`pe.r h`mw/n kata,ra ge,graptai ga.r( VEpikata,ratoj pa/j o` krema,menoj evpi. xu,lou.

 

The Greek verb for redeem is based upon the word for marketplace, the agora. The verb expresses the universal nature of the atoning death and its close relationship to reconciliation. Instead of saying that He exchanged His righteousness for our sin, Galatians reveals that Christ became a curse for us, to redeem us. When the Word of God teaches a doctrine, we find it expressed in many different ways, using different vocabulary. Therefore, the Bible not only states that Christ died for all but also that His death accomplished a reconciliation, that He redeemed us from the Law. This freedom from the Law is the universal nature of the atoning death.

 

J-598

“But this must be noted: Christ died 1900 years ago, on a certain day, at a certain hour in time. But this counts for all time: for the entire future time, for all the prior time. For by Christ’s death ‘all died,’ Adam and all his descendants. The effect covered all. It is literally true: ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ His death availed for Adam. All in the Old Testament who believed were saved by that death just as all are in the New Testament who believe.”

            R. C. H. Lenski, Corinthians, Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1957, p. 1033. 2 Corinthians 5:15.

 

Redeem them under the law

 

KJV Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

 

BYZ Galatians 4:4 o[te de. h=lqen to. plh,rwma tou/ cro,nou evxape,steilen o` qeo.j to.n ui`o.n auvtou/ geno,menon evk gunaiko,j geno,menon u`po. no,mon 5 i[na tou.j u`po. no,mon evxagora,sh| i[na th.n ui`oqesi,an avpola,bwmen.

 

The verb for redemption was also used in Galatians 3:13. In both cases the apostle is establishing that the objective act of God has already taken place. The Judaizers were set free from the Law at the time of the crucifixion. This release has already taken place. It is a universal reality, and yet the circumcision party continues to destroy the Gospel by making the Law a requirement for salvation. Although the instrument has changed, the circumcizers are still with us, especially among the Lutherans, making their hideous Law demands a requirement for salvation. In their preaching of salvation according to the Law, whether through legalism or Church Growth scientific methods, they reject the redemption of the world in Christ.

 

False Prophets

 

KJV 2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

 

BYZ 2 Peter 2:1 VEge,nonto de. kai. yeudoprofh/tai evn tw/| law/| w`j kai. evn u`mi/n e;sontai yeudodida,skaloi oi[tinej pareisa,xousin ai`re,seij avpwlei,aj kai. to.n avgora,santa auvtou.j despo,thn avrnou,menoi evpa,gontej e`autoi/j tacinh.n avpw,leian.

 

The universal sense of the expression bought can be no clearer than when applied to false teachers who deny the atoning death of Christ. The false teachers of the future, who seem to multiply, will bring the worst heresies, even denying the Lord and His atonement. The term bought is especially appropriate and vivid, since it is used so many times in the New Testament to describe the purchase of various goods. No one has any question that an item purchased belongs to the new owner. Therefore, we belong to Christ because He has purchased us with His innocent blood.

Redeemed us by blood

 

KJV Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

 

BYZ Revelation 5:9 kai. a;|dousin wv|dh.n kainh.n le,gontej :Axioj ei= labei/n to. bibli,on kai. avnoi/xai ta.j sfragi/daj auvtou/ o[ti evsfa,ghj kai. hvgo,rasaj tw/| qew/| h`ma/j evn tw/| ai[mati, sou evk pa,shj fulh/j kai. glw,sshj kai. laou/ kai. e;qnou.

Redemption as Release – lutron

 

Redemption – apolutrosis, apoluo (release, dismiss; used for divorce, release of a prisoner). Christ paid for the sins of the world. The term is used in Romans 3:24, 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:17, 14, 4:30; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12, 15. Lutron – ransom, Matthew 20:28 (Mark 10:45). 1 Timothy 2:6.

Ransom for many

 

KJV Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

 

BYZ Matthew 20:28 w[sper o` ui`o.j tou/ avnqrw,pou ouvk h=lqen diakonhqh/nai avlla. diakonh/sai kai. dou/nai th.n yuch.n auvtou/ lu,tron avnti. pollw/n.

 

Ransom for all

 

KJV 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

BYZ 1 Timothy 2:5 ei-j ga.r qeo,j ei-j kai. mesi,thj qeou/ kai. avnqrw,pwn a;nqrwpoj Cristo.j VIhsou/j.

 

Justified through the redemption

 

KJV Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

 

BYZ Romans 3:24 dikaiou,menoi dwrea.n th/| auvtou/ ca,riti dia. th/j avpolutrw,sewj th/j evn Cristw/| VIhsou.

Redemption of our body

 

KJV Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

 

BYZ Romans 8:23 ouv mo,non de, avlla. kai. auvtoi. th.n avparch.n tou/ pneu,matoj e;contej kai. h`mei/j auvtoi. evn e`autoi/j stena,zomen ui`oqesi,an avpekdeco,menoi th.n avpolu,trwsin tou/ sw,matoj h`mw/n.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 1:30 evx auvtou/ de. u`mei/j evste evn Cristw/| VIhsou/ o]j evgenh,qh h`mi/n sofi,a avpo. qeou/ dikaiosu,nh te kai. a`giasmo.j kai. avpolu,trwsij.

 

KJV Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

 

BYZ Ephesians 1:7 evn w-| e;comen th.n avpolu,trwsin dia. tou/ ai[matoj auvtou/ th.n a;fesin tw/n paraptwma,twn kata. to.n plou/ton th/j ca,ritoj auvtou/.

 

KJV Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

 

BYZ Ephesians 1:14 o[j evstin avrrabw.n th/j klhronomi,aj h`mw/n eivj avpolu,trwsin th/j peripoih,sewj eivj e;painon th/j do,xhj auvtou./

 

KJV Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

 

BYZ Ephesians 4:30 kai. mh. lupei/te to. pneu/ma to. a[gion tou/ qeou/ evn w-| evsfragi,sqhte eivj h`me,ran avpolutrw,sewj.

 

KJV Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

 

BYZ Colossians 1:14 evn w-| e;comen th.n avpolu,trwsin Îdia. tou/ ai[matoj auvtou/( th.n a;fesin tw/n a`martiw/n\

 

KJV Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

 

BYZ Hebrews 9:12 ouvde. di ai[matoj tra,gwn kai. mo,scwn dia. de. tou/ ivdi,ou ai[matoj eivsh/lqen evfa,pax eivj ta. a[gia aivwni,an lu,trwsin eu`ra,menoj.

 

KJV Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

 

BYZ Hebrews 9:15 Kai. dia. tou/to diaqh,khj kainh/j mesi,thj evsti,n o[pwj qana,tou genome,nou eivj avpolu,trwsin tw/n evpi. th/| prw,th| diaqh,kh| paraba,sewn th.n evpaggeli,an la,bwsin oi` keklhme,noi th/j aivwni,ou klhronomi,aj.

Redeemed with blood of Christ

 

1 Peter 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

 

BYZ 1 Peter 1:17 Kai. eiv pate,ra evpikalei/sqe to.n avproswpolh,mptwj kri,nonta kata. to. e`ka,stou e;rgon evn fo,bw| to.n th/j paroiki,aj u`mw/n cro,non avnastra,fhte 18 eivdo,tej o[ti ouv fqartoi/j avrguri,w| h' crusi,w| evlutrw,qhte evk th/j matai,aj u`mw/n avnastrofh/j patroparado,tou 19 avlla. timi,w| ai[mati w`j avmnou/ avmw,mou kai. avspi,lou Cristou/ 20 proegnwsme,nou me.n pro. katabolh/j ko,smou fanerwqe,ntoj de. evp evsca,twn tw/n cro,nwn di u`ma/j 21 tou.j di auvtou/ pisteu,ontaj eivj qeo.n to.n evgei,ranta auvto.n evk nekrw/n kai. do,xan auvtw/| do,nta w[ste th.n pi,stin u`mw/n kai. evlpi,da ei=nai eivj qeo,n.

 

J-599

”I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won [delivered] me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be [wholly] His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.”

            Martin Luther, The Small Catechism, Explanation of the Second Article of the Creed, II. 4. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis; Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 545. Tappert, p. 345. Heiser, p. 161.

Propitiation

 

KJV Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

 

BYZ Romans 3:25 o]n proe,qeto o` qeo.j i`lasth,rion dia. th/j pi,stewj evn tw/| auvtou/ ai[mati eivj e;ndeixin th/j dikaiosu,nhj auvtou/ dia. th.n pa,resin tw/n progegono,twn a`marthma,twn 26 evn th/| avnoch/| tou/ qeou/ pro.j e;ndeixin th/j dikaiosu,nhj auvtou/ evn tw/| nu/n kairw/| eivj to. ei=nai auvto.n di,kaion kai. dikaiou/nta to.n evk pi,stewj VIhsou/.

 

KJV Hebrews 9:5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

 

BYZ Hebrews 9:5 u`pera,nw de. auvth/j ceroubim do,xhj kataskia,zonta to. i`lasth,rion\ peri. w-n ouvk e;stin nu/n le,gein kata. me,roj.

 

KJV 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

BYZ 1 John 2:2 kai. auvto.j i`lasmo,j evstin peri. tw/n a`martiw/n h`mw/n ouv peri. tw/n h`mete,rwn de. mo,non avlla. kai. peri. o[lou tou/ ko,smou.

 

KJV 1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

BYZ 1 John 4:10 evn tou,tw| evsti.n h` avga,ph ouvc o[ti h`mei/j hvgaph,samen to.n qeo,n avll o[ti auvto.j hvga,phsen h`ma/j kai. avpe,steilen to.n ui`o.n auvtou/ i`lasmo.n peri. tw/n a`martiw/n h`mw/n.

 

KJV Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

 

BYZ Hebrews 2:17 o[qen w;feilen kata. pa,nta toi/j avdelfoi/j o`moiwqh/nai i[na evleh,mwn ge,nhtai kai. pisto.j avrciereu.j ta. pro.j to.n qeo,n eivj to. i`la,skesqai ta.j a`marti,aj tou/ laou.

 

Blood for Sins

 

KJV Exodus 30:10 And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.

 

KJV 2 Chronicles 29:23 And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: 24 And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.

 

Parallel to agora

 

KJV Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

 

BYZ Acts 20:28 prose,cete ou=n e`autoi/j kai. panti. tw/| poimni,w| evn w-| u`ma/j to. pneu/ma to. a[gion e;qeto evpisko,pouj poimai,nein th.n evkklhsi,an tou/ kuri,ou kai. qeou/ h]n periepoih,sato dia. tou/ ivdi,ou ai[matoj.

Redemption and propitiation

 

KJV Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

 

BYZ Romans 3:20 dio,ti evx e;rgwn no,mou ouv dikaiwqh,setai pa/sa sa.rx evnw,pion auvtou/ dia. ga.r no,mou evpi,gnwsij a`marti,aj 21 Nuni. de. cwri.j no,mou dikaiosu,nh qeou/ pefane,rwtai marturoume,nh u`po. tou/ no,mou kai. tw/n profhtw/n 22 dikaiosu,nh de. qeou/ dia. pi,stewj VIhsou/ Cristou/ eivj pa,ntaj kai. evpi. pa,ntaj tou.j pisteu,ontaj ouv ga,r evstin diastolh, 23 pa,ntej ga.r h[marton kai. u`sterou/ntai th/j do,xhj tou/ qeou/ 24 dikaiou,menoi dwrea.n th/| auvtou/ ca,riti dia. th/j avpolutrw,sewj th/j evn Cristw/| VIhsou/\ 25 o]n proe,qeto o` qeo.j i`lasth,rion dia. th/j pi,stewj evn tw/| auvtou/ ai[mati eivj e;ndeixin th/j dikaiosu,nhj auvtou/ dia. th.n pa,resin tw/n progegono,twn a`marthma,twn 26 evn th/| avnoch/| tou/ qeou/ pro.j e;ndeixin th/j dikaiosu,nhj auvtou/ evn tw/| nu/n kairw/| eivj to. ei=nai auvto.n di,kaion kai. dikaiou/nta to.n evk pi,stewj VIhsou/ 27 Pou/ ou=n h` kau,chsij evxeklei,sqh dia. poi,ou no,mou tw/n e;rgwn ouvci, avlla. dia. no,mou pi,stewj 28 logizo,meqa ou=n pi,stei dikaiou/sqai a;nqrwpon cwri.j e;rgwn no,mou.

 

KJV Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

 

BYZ Romans 4:2 eiv ga.r VAbraa.m evx e;rgwn evdikaiw,qh e;cei kau,chma avll ouv pro.j to.n qeo,n 3 ti, ga.r h` grafh. le,gei VEpi,steusen de. VAbraa.m tw/| qew/| kai. evlogi,sqh auvtw/| eivj dikaiosu,nhn.

 

KJV Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

 

BYZ Romans 5:9 pollw/| ou=n ma/llon dikaiwqe,ntej nu/n evn tw/| ai[mati auvtou/ swqhso,meqa di auvtou/ avpo. th/j ovrgh/j.

 

KJV Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

 

BYZ Romans 8:29 o[ti ou]j proe,gnw kai. prow,risen summo,rfouj th/j eivko,noj tou/ ui`ou/ auvtou/ eivj to. ei=nai auvto.n prwto,tokon evn polloi/j avdelfoi/j\ 30 ou]j de. prow,risen tou,touj kai. evka,lesen\ kai. ou]j evka,lesen tou,touj kai. evdikai,wsen\ ou]j de. evdikai,wsen tou,touj kai. evdo,xasen.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 10:16 to. poth,rion th/j euvlogi,aj o] euvlogou/men ouvci. koinwni,a tou/ ai[matoj tou/ Cristou/ evsti.n to.n a;rton o]n klw/men ouvci. koinwni,a tou/ sw,matoj tou/ Cristou/ evstin.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 4:3 evmoi. de. eivj evla,cisto,n evstin i[na u`f u`mw/n avnakriqw/ h' u`po. avnqrwpi,nhj h`me,raj\ avll ouvde. evmauto.n avnakri,nw 4 ouvde.n ga.r evmautw/| su,noida avll ouvk evn tou,tw| dedikai,wmai o` de. avnakri,nwn me ku,rio,j evstin.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 6:10 ou;te pleone,ktai ou;te kle,ptai ou;te me,qusoi ouv loi,doroi ouvc a[rpagej basilei,an qeou/ ouv klhronomh,sousin.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.[70]

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 11:25 w`sau,twj kai. to. poth,rion meta. to. deipnh/sai le,gwn Tou/to to. poth,rion h` kainh. diaqh,kh evsti.n evn tw/| evmw/| ai[mati\ tou/to poiei/te o`sa,kij a'n pi,nhte eivj th.n evmh.n avna,mnhsin.

 

KJV Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

 

BYZ Ephesians 1:7 evn w-| e;comen th.n avpolu,trwsin dia. tou/ ai[matoj auvtou/ th.n a;fesin tw/n paraptwma,twn kata. to.n plou/ton th/j ca,ritoj auvtou/.[71]

 

KJV Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

 

BYZ Hebrews 9:12 ouvde. di ai[matoj tra,gwn kai. mo,scwn dia. de. tou/ ivdi,ou ai[matoj eivsh/lqen evfa,pax eivj ta. a[gia aivwni,an lu,trwsin eu`ra,menoj 13 eiv ga.r to. ai-ma tau,rwn kai. tra,gwn kai. spodo.j dama,lewj r`anti,zousa tou.j kekoinwme,nouj a`gia,zei pro.j th.n th/j sarko.j kaqaro,thta 14 po,sw| ma/llon to. ai-ma tou/ Cristou/ o]j dia. pneu,matoj aivwni,ou e`auto.n prosh,negken a;mwmon tw/| qew/| kaqariei/ th.n sunei,dhsin u`mw/n avpo. nekrw/n e;rgwn eivj to. latreu,ein qew/| zw/nti.

 

KJV Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

BYZ Hebrews 13:20 ~O de. qeo.j th/j eivrh,nhj o` avnagagw.n evk nekrw/n to.n poime,na tw/n proba,twn to.n me,gan evn ai[mati diaqh,khj aivwni,ou to.n ku,rion h`mw/n VIhsou/n 21 katarti,sai u`ma/j evn panti. e;rgw| avgaqw/| eivj to. poih/sai to. qe,lhma auvtou/ poiw/n evn u`mi/n to. euva,reston evnw,pion auvtou/ dia. VIhsou/ Cristou/ w-| h` do,xa eivj tou.j aivw/naj tw/n aivw,nwn avmh,n.

 

KJV 1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

 

BYZ 1 Peter 1:18 eivdo,tej o[ti ouv fqartoi/j avrguri,w| h' crusi,w| evlutrw,qhte evk th/j matai,aj u`mw/n avnastrofh/j patroparado,tou 19 avlla. timi,w| ai[mati w`j avmnou/ avmw,mou kai. avspi,lou Cristou/.

 

KJV 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

 

BYZ 1 John 1:7 eva.n de. evn tw/| fwti. peripatw/men w`j auvto,j evstin evn tw/| fwti, koinwni,an e;comen met avllh,lwn kai. to. ai-ma VIhsou/ Cristou/ tou/ ui`ou/ auvtou/ kaqari,zei h`ma/j avpo. pa,shj a`marti,aj.

 

KJV Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

 

BYZ Revelation 1:5 kai. avpo. VIhsou/ Cristou/ o` ma,rtuj o` pisto,j o` prwto,tokoj tw/n nekrw/n kai. o` a;rcwn tw/n basile,wn th/j gh/j Tw/| avgapw/nti h`ma/j kai. lou,santi h`ma/j avpo. tw/n a`martiw/n h`mw/n evn tw/| ai[mati auvtou/ 6 kai. evpoi,hsen h`ma/j basilei,an i`erei/j tw/| qew/| kai. patri. auvtou/ auvtw/| h` do,xa kai. to. kra,toj eivj tou.j aivw/naj tw/n aivw,nwn\ avmh,n.

 

KJV Revelation 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

 

BYZ Revelation 19:13 kai. peribeblhme,noj i`ma,tion bebamme,non ai[mati kai. kalei/tai to. o;noma auvtou/ o` lo,goj tou/ qeou/.


 



[1] Moby Dick is a novel saturated in Biblical images. My high school English teacher said that one must read the novel with a Bible in one hand and a dictionary in the other. However, the book constantly espouses the views of a free-thinker, as the quotation indicates.

[2] Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #1. Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Lousis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 121. Tappert, p. 107. Heiser, p. 32.

[3] I am familiar with many of the people named in this chapter. I attended a conference at David Hartman’s farm in 1998, asked about his experiences, and requested documents from him. I phoned Joe Pohlman to get his perspective on Kokomo as well. Larry Darby invited me to join Trinity Lutheran Church in Bridgeton, Missouri in 1992, so I was friends with him before and after he was excommunicated from the congregation. I also knew the sainted Preus brothers, Jack and Robert, who were involved in the justification issue in 1980 concerning Walter A. Meier, Jr. I had a chance to meet with Pastor Vernon Harley, who argued against the dominant view of the Missouri Synod. His essays on the topic of justification are well written and well worth obtaining.

[4] The citations may be too numerous for some, but most people do not have access to all the literature.

[5] Pastor James Heiser, Repristination Press, RR 1, Malone, Texas, 76660.

[6] It is possible to find evangelism notebooks produced under Paul Kelm in WELS where no sound Lutheran is quoted, but Church Growth experts are quoted with the enthusiasm of a schoolgirl’s first crush. The notebooks were used for workshops held across the Wisconsin Synod. "A number of experts on church growth principles added muscle to the conference. Among the experts were George Barna, George Gallup Jr., Lyle Schaller, and Tom Sine—icons in the church growth movement...Of the four church growth experts mentioned above, I have heard three of them speak at some length." James P. Schaefer The Northwestern Lutheran, October 15, 1991, p. 363. "Marketing churches to reach people is consistent with biblical principles and doesn't mean the message needs to be watered down or compromised, according to researcher George Barna...Church growth is primarily accomplished by word of mouth. Barna advised clergy to see themselves as cheerleaders rather than leaders, as laypeople carry out the practical marketing of the church." News From Around the World, The Northwestern Lutheran, November 15, 1991 p. 395. "MEDIA RESOURCES. Marketing the Church (George Barna), Navpress." WELS Evangelism Workshop IV, LOCATING THE LOST, p. 96. "George Barna of Glendale, Calif., president of the Barna Research Group, a marketing firm specializing in research for Christian churches and parachurch organizations, laid out 'The Context for Leadership' with rather challenging facts about the society the church faces today." Lutheran Brotherhood, Bond, "Preparing the Church for the Next Century," Fall, 1991 68, p. 12. [Barna spoke at this pan-Lutheran conference of ELCA, WELS, and LCMS leaders, held in Snowbird, Utah.]

[7] Walther and Pieper taught dogmatics class in Latin, using a collection from the orthodox theologians who were taught by the Book of Concord authors. Although much of this training was good, the method wedded the Missouri Synod to philosophical theses defended by Latin terms, because the original arguments were with Reformed scholars of the past. Even today the advocates of two justifications ignore the lack of foundation in the Book of Concord and the Scriptures, pleading from unattainable Latin tomes which they probably do not own or read. Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne, in 1979, cited Baier-Walther, Compendium III, V, 9, pp. 271-273 and Hoenecke Dogmatik, III, pp. 354-355, to defend General or Objective Justification, Christian News Encyclopedia, II, p. 1121. Hoenecke has been translated into English but not published, except for volume IV, as of this writing.

[8] Two different words may be equated, but only if the Scriptures equate them. When we are in doubt, we should restrict ourselves to the language of the Bible and forget the vocabulary of the philosophers.

[9] WELS Boomer TV Commercial: “I am a Christian. I am sick of poopy diapers. I am maybe 10 pounds overweight.” “I am trying to quit drinking…I am a blond again. I am dying of cancer. I’ve got too much stress. Not enough time.” “No husband anymore, but then I remember.” “I am, I am, I am. Never alone. Forgiven.” “I am going to heaven through Jesus Christ. How about you.” Song – “Yes Jesus loves me.” WELS Generation X TV Commercial: “I am a Christian. I am no way counting on Social Security. I am really mad. A quarter century old. I am pregnant. I am not a slacker. I can party, swear, stressed too much.” “And I’m so dumb.” “So confused sometimes…but I always know.” “I am, I am, I am forgiven, loved.” “I am saved through Jesus Christ. You are too.” Song - “Jesus loves the little children.” Do these commercials represent trust in the Gospel or in Madison Avenue advertising methods?

[10] "The forgiveness comes first. Faith is merely the response to the message." Sigbert Becker, "Objective Justification," Chicago Pastoral Conference, WELS, Elgin, Illinois, November 9, 1982, unpaginated. Becker’s statement could be accepted by most Baptists, who would view the “response” as a decision for Christ.

[11] KJV Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

[12] For instance, Lenski argued that God remains the same, but changes man through the reconciliation. Corinthians, p. 1047. However, then the issue becomes, “What does change mean?” The passage does not concern itself with verbs of change but exchange or reconciliation.

[13] The sin against the Holy Spirit is rejecting the Gospel at the time of death. Until that time God offers sinners many opportunities through the Word for contrition and faith in forgiveness through Christ alone. KJV Matthew 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

[14] KJV 1 Corinthians 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

[15] This is one of many examples of the Holy Trinity’s work being expressed in a three-fold manner. See Jack Cascione, In Search of the Biblical Order.

[16] Advocates of Kokomo justification do not acknowledge or properly teach the damning nature of the efficacious Word when rejected by man. Lenski is obviously commenting upon the concept that became the fourth Kokomo Statement. This is why future WELS pastors are warned at seminary that Lenski is “wrong about justification.” Bethany (ELS ) seminarians are taught that the people in Hell are justified but “it doesn’t do them any good.” Indeed.

[17] We have known a number of Jews who want to know all about the Christian faith and eternal life. One person told us how she asked a noted liberal Lutheran about heaven and he had almost nothing to say.

[18] KJV Colossians 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

[19] This quotation makes it impossible to place Walther in the Universal Objective Justification camp. It would be more accurate to say that some of his statements have been used as a springboard for the modern UOJ heresy.

[20] KJV Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. KJV 1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. KJV Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

 

[21] This is a favorite citation for the Objective Justification clergy. “For since the flesh…” is omitted from their quotations. Nothing in paragraph #88 or #89 is contrary to justification by faith.

[22] “It is contrary to Scripture and the pure Gospel to teach:…That it is not Biblical to speak of ‘objective justification.’ LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, “Theses on Justification,” 1983, VI. #23.

[23] Becker’s definitions make even less sense than the Kokomo Statements. He is the only author who distinguishes between Universal and Objective Justification. Everyone else uses the terms interchangeably.

[24] To distinguish between Hoenecke and his citations, the statements by Gerhard and Burk are in bold print, both in German and English. The emphasis was added. The English translations were provided by Pastor Martin Kalish and Martin H. Jackson, known as “the other Martins.”

[25] The essay in question was printed at Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne, but the work is not in my possession at this time.

[26] "The administration of the katallage is carried out by means of the Word. The Word is made the vehicle for conveying and applying the katallage to the world. There is no other way of administering it...It is the Word which God established through which the katallage is brought to us and through which we bring it to the world." J. P. Meyer, Ministers of Christ, A Commentary on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1963, p. 110f. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.

[27] Abraham Calov: "Although Christ has acquired for us the remission of sins, justification, and sonship, God just the same does not justify us prior to our faith. Nor do we become God's children in Christ in such a way that justification in the mind of God takes place before we believe." [Apodixis Articulorum Fide, Lueneburg, 1684] Cited in Robert D. Preus, Justification and Rome, St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press 1997, p. 131n.  [emphasis added]

[28] Is the clarity and purity we obtain from the new doctrine: "But if forgiveness comes first, if it is always there, if it is true whether I believe it or not, I do not need to know whether I have faith or not before I can cling to God's promise. I know that my sins are forgiven whether I feel forgiven or unforgiven. I know that my iniquity is pardoned whether I believe it or not. And when I know that, then I know also that I am a believer." Sigbert Becker, "Objective Justification," Chicago Pastoral Conference, WELS, Elgin, Illinois, November 9, 1982, unpaginated.

[29] The quotation is from Augustana Synod leader T. N. Hasselquist. The Norwegian Synod agreed with the charge, except for the words “therefore has become a child of God and an heir of heaven.”

[30] “Declaring the whole world to be righteous…” was absent in the 1897 LCMS Brief Statement and the 1912 Catechism. It was also absent from the 1922 publication, “What the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri and Other States Has Always Taught.”

[31] Preuss (1834-1904) edited Chemnitz’ Examination of the Council of Trent, taught at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, 1869-1871, and joined the Church of Rome in 1872, after seeing a spectacular sunset, which he took as a sign.

[32] "There is a short way for pious minds both to dethrone error and to find and bring out the truth. For when we return to the source and origin of the divine tradition, human error ceases." [Cyprian, Ad Pompejum] Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 158.

[33] Open letter published by Mr. and Mrs. David Hartman and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Pohlman, March 6, 1982.

[34] "Every one of the statements can be understood correctly, even though one must swallow a little hard to accede to the fourth [Kokomo Statement]." Sigbert Becker, "Objective Justification," Chicago Pastoral Conference, WELS, Elgin, Illinois, November 9, 1982, unpaginated.

[35] The alleged question sets a record for being prejudicial. The typical ELS member would never say something so idiotic, since most Lutherans react in shock and disbelief to the very concept Moldstad is trying to promote, that forgiveness comes without the Word, without repentance, without the Means of Grace, without faith. The article is a response to Dr. Peter Moeller questioning the validity of Objective Justification, enclosing articles on the topic from Pastor Vernon Harley. Moldstad sent a long, friendly letter to Moeller on August 6, 1996.

[36] The paper was written in a very careless and sloppy manner, giving me the immediate impression that it was hastily written or composed while impaired by illness. Later I learned that it was the last thing Becker wrote before he died, giving it a special authority in WELS. Becker’s response to valid criticism of universal justification is unwarranted: "The doctrine of universal justification is often ridiculed with the argument that if God really forgives sins prior to faith then the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith becomes meaningless. Such conclusions demonstrate a rationalistic spirit that consciously or unconsciously refuses to be guided by Scriptures alone." Sigbert Becker, "Objective Justification," Chicago Pastoral Conference, WELS, Elgin, Illinois, November 9, 1982, unpaginated.

[37] The response of WELS to their Kokomo sin seems to be unusually dishonest and cowardly, but those who know about the secret initiation rite (“GA”) for future pastors at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary understand. The week-long hazing ritual rests upon dishonesty, manipulation, physical and verbal abuse to create an unholy sense of unity. See Chapter Nine for a complete description of GA.

[38] John Lau is one of several CLC ministers who defends false doctrine in WELS, repeats the flimsiest of WELS alibis, and then insists he cannot be in fellowship with WELS because of their earlier conflict. Mischke’s “caricature” comment is unwittingly true. The Kokomo Statements, all from WELS, are a parody of justification by faith. They were promoted by Pastor Papenfuss and the Wisconsin Synod as a test of orthodoxy! Sign or face excommunication.

[39] Exact copy of the letter sent to Mr. and Mrs. David Hartman, August 30, 1979, emphasis in the original. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Pohlman received the same letter.

[40] Exact copy of the letter sent to the Hartman family, November 19, 1980. The Pohlman family received the same letter. WELS seminary professor Sig Becker gave his paper supporting this decision in 1982.

[41] This statement, with its question at the end, sounds oddly Baptist: decision theology. Will he accept or decline? One can see that the generic Protestant doctrine behind the Church Growth Movement existed before WELS leaders rushed off to study at Fuller Seminary. It also explains why they love a generic Protestant school that rejects the Means of Grace.

[42] J. P. Meyer was a professor at Northwestern College in Watertown, president of Martin Luther College (nee Dr. Martin Luther College) in New Ulm, professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (1920-1964), president of the seminary (1937-1963), and author of the notes used in dogmatics class. He published Ministers of Christ in 1963 and died the next year at the age of 91.

[43] John Meyer, “Objective Justification,” Our Great Heritage, 3 volumes, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1991, III, pp. 34-47. Siegbert Becker, “Universal Justification,” III, pp. 48-61. The nickname for this low church, Pietistic, anti-confessional work is Our Great Heresy. The Becker essay is introduced by denouncing a statement by Jay Adams, a favorite Reformed author at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, required reading. Compare The Counseling Shepherd, Northwestern Publishing House.

[44] In effect, while playing with words, the appeals panel supported the Four Statements, especially since they upheld the excommunication. Additional weight for Kokomo justification was provided in the Sig Becker article in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, edited by the Wisconsin Synod’s seminary faculty, their college of cardinals.

[45] The origin of this conflict seems to be in the theology of John Gerhard, a major authority for C. F. W. Walther. However, the problem seems to be that lesser lights of theology have isolated one aspect of salvation from the efficacy of the Word and the Means of Grace. Plain, simple believers, unadorned with advanced theological degrees, can understand the universal nature of the atonement but question the reason for dismissing the importance of faith.

[46] The false view was promoted by the catechism of Erik Pontippidan (1698-1764), the same catechism used later to justify the Church of the Lutheran Confession’s “holy self-love” doctrine. Pontippidan was a Danish-Norwegian Pietist. The truncated “in view of faith” issue led to the formation of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in 1918 when the majority of Norwegian Lutherans merged by compromising on this topic. In time, “in view of faith,” became the majority view in the larger Norwegian Lutheran Church. The larger Norwegian church eventually became part of the ELCA.

[47] Some self-described confessional Lutherans have reversed Luther’s career by obtaining an orthodox Lutheran education, pining for reunion with the Church of Rome, then joining the Antichrist. Others have poped on the cheap, joining the Eastern Orthodox Church, which is to Rome what the CLC is to WELS, a smaller, covetous clone of the larger church body.

[48] The Scriptures clearly teach the saving doctrines of God to everyone. We should value scholarly work undertaken to explain the Word of God faithfully and precisely, but we must reject confusing and complicated constructions, such as this: "But if forgiveness comes first, if it is always there, if it is true whether I believe it or not, I do not need to know whether I have faith or not before I can cling to God's promise. I know that my sins are forgiven whether I feel forgiven or unforgiven. I know that my iniquity is pardoned whether I believe it or not. And when I know that, then I know also that I am a believer." Siegbert Becker, "Objective Justification," Chicago Pastoral Conference, WELS, Elgin, Illinois, November 9, 1982, unpaginated.

[49] It is not pretty to see synodical drones ignore the clear statements of the Book of Concord in order to argue for a particular sermon, essay, or book that is not the ruled norm (norma normata) of Lutherans. If someone cannot find Kokomo justification in the Bible or in the Book of Concord, he may want to stop looking for it in the lesser works of theology.

[50] Arnold Koelpin, “Are We Bound Only to What the Confessions Teach?” Our Great Heritage, 3 volumes, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1991, I, pp. 434-436. Reprinted from The Northwestern Lutheran, 1973.

[51] Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) prepared the way for such modern theologians as Karl Barth (1886-1968) and Paul Tillich (1886-1965). Barth, the official theologian of Fuller Seminary, was an adulterer. Tillich was promiscuous in his adultery.

[52] F. Pieper has made this point about the Church of Rome and the Reformed. Neither confession of faith is clear about how we receive forgiveness of sin and eternal life. As a result, both confessions, in rejecting the efficacy of the Word, create a cloud of uncertainty about God’s mercy. Their inevitable answer to this doubt is to introduce merit through works. Lutheran Church Growth leaders flay their disciples to the bone with the Law. Am I a good pastor? Is my church growing fast enough? WELS expected mission pastors to generate, at one point, 10 new communicants per year. Am I a good member? Church Growth pastors demand that their members bring friends to church. It is the fault of the members if the congregation is not growing, pastors claim. Church Growth statistics prove that growing churches grow from members inviting friends!

[53] CTCR, “Theses on Justification,” p. 6.

[54] CTCR, “Theses on Justification,” p. 7.

[55] One pastor trained in the Wisconsin Synod stated in a paper given to the Church of the Lutheran Confession that everyone hearing the absolution in church was absolved, whether they believed or not. Several objected later to this assertion, which was changed in the printed version. The pastor was perplexed since he was trained in the quirky claims of Universal Justification.

[56] The Antichrist is correct from time to time, making his assaults against the Gospel all the more dangerous.

[57] The term Trinity is not found in the Bible, even though the doctrine of the Trinity is taught throughout the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. Liberals often reveal the lack of the word Trinity in the Bible with a shocked look on their faces. We should not be surprised. Theological terms are a form of short-hand, often created after a long period of controversy.

 

[58] Absolving the world of sin at the moment of resurrection makes mincemeat of justification in the Old Testament.

[59] "The Third Article the adversaries approve, in which we confess that there are in Christ two natures, namely, a human nature, assumed by the Word into the unity of His person; and that the same Christ suffered and died to reconcile the Father to us; and that He was raised again to reign, and to justify and sanctify believers, etc., according to the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, III. #52. Of Christ, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 119. Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:19ff.

[60] One WELS pastor insisted on all quotations being quoted in full when he was reading a draft of the catechism chapter. Although this lengthens a book and increases its cost, a verbatim quotation guards against misuse of the passage.

[61] The Lutheran Hymnal is not perfect, but all the newer hymnals have aped ELCA and Reformed worship. Clearly TLH is the best choice based upon doctrine.

[62] Robert D. Preus, Justification and Rome, St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press 1997, p. 72.

[63] Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

[64] Lenski, Corinthians, p. 663.

[65] Greek forms compound verbs easily, as we can see in “make alive,” so it is puzzling that the Holy Spirit did not use a similar compound verb in the Great Commission for “make disciples.” When liberals do not like the clear, plain meaning of the Scriptures, the Word of God is either attacked for being inadequate or changed to bring it up to liberal standards. Thus, “make disciples” when Jesus said, “Go, teach all nations…”

[66] Romans 5:10, Romans, p. 353.

[67] Corinthians, p. 1042.

[68] Martin H. Jackson attributes the use of subjective and objective justification to Aristotle’s cause and effect terminology. Melanchthon was very fond of Aristotle, while Luther had no use for the Greek philosopher.

[69] A man pushed out of the WELS ministry made this point to me many times. The transitive verb A acts upon B, so it makes all the difference whether one teaches (verb) all nations (direct object) or makes (verb) disciples (direct object).

[70] 1 Corinthians 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

[71] Colossians 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. BYZ Colossians 1:20 kai. di auvtou/ avpokatalla,xai ta. pa,nta eivj auvto,n eivrhnopoih,saj dia. tou/ ai[matoj tou/ staurou/ auvtou/ di auvtou/ ei;te ta. evpi. th/j gh/j ei;te ta. evpi. toi/j ouvranoi/j.