‘Sheep Beating’ is not the Gospel

Today’s sermon comes from Sermon Audio and can be found here, the PDF can be downloaded here. This sermon is titled:

Blaze a Trail
By Jeff Noblit
Anchored in Truth Ministries
Preached on: Sunday, January 12, 2020

Bible Text: 1 Timothy 4:11-16

1 But the Spirit says expressly that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron, 3 forbidding marriage and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 5 For it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.6 If you instruct the brothers of these things, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables. Exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise has some value, but godliness has value in all things, having the promise of the life which is now and of that which is to come. 9 This saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we have set our trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things.12 Let no man despise your youth; but be an example to those who believe, in word, in your way of life, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. 13 Until I come, pay attention to reading, to exhortation, and to teaching. 14 Don’t neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the elders. 15 Be diligent in these things. Give yourself wholly to them, that your progress may be revealed to all. 16 Pay attention to yourself and to your teaching. Continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

1 Timothy 4: 1-16

This is a passage from a pastoral epistle. This passage is about how a pastor should rightly handle the Word of God, defending and refuting false teachings, and to stick to correct biblical doctrine because the Word rightly handled gives faith in Christ Crucified for the sins of the world. Jeff only included a few verses from the above text in his sermon. I added some surrounding verses for context, even though the main point of this passage of Scripture is included in his portion of the text. Let’s see if Jeff tells us about how true doctrine gives us Christ crucifed for our salvation.

“Now if you’re not a young pastor, folks listen to us, various places, ah, this isn’t just for young pastors, this is for all pastors. One of the worst things I know is old pastors who haven’t learned anything. They’re still functioning like they’re just starting out and waiting for the next new thing to come around. Or if you’re not a pastor at all, there’s great wisdom here for you. You need to understand what God would say to a pastor and first, and also there are applications for your own life as we look at this together.”

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

“Well, what things is he talking about? Actually this verse, verse 11, applies to the preceding verses. So what’s Paul been talking about? Well, among other things he’s talked about make sure you’re teaching the church the difference between sound doctrine and false doctrine, the difference between true teaching and false teaching. As you will remember, Paul has already been exhorting Timothy about find and uproot the false teaching that’s crept into the church there at Ephesus, as a pastor, prescribe this, that is, keep on doing this. There’ll never be a time when a faithful preaching pastor can say, “Okay, we’re done. I don’t have to ever worry about false teaching creeping in my congregation.” No, you’ve gotta keep on doing it.”

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

Perhaps this sermon is going to give us some solid biblical christocentric doctrine. Maybe we will even hear about some false doctrine that we need to stay away from.

“This is what he’s saying, “Timothy, here’s what’s wrong with folks, while they’re still down here on this earth they do belong to God but they’re still packaged in this unredeemed humanity.” There’s a new man in you at the new birth but the old man is still there, and every week as you live your life in your home, in your neighborhood, in the office at work, young people at school, the problem is you leak. You leak. It kind of like somebody punches a hole in a balloon and the air starts coming out.”

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

“”Well, Timothy, continually call the church to spiritual values.” He elaborates a little further on this point in verse 11 and says, “teach these things.” Again, it’s a present tense verse. It means “keep on teaching this.” Because, look, a spiritual man does not mind the continual reminder, matter of fact, he’s looking for it. The spiritual man wants to be challenged by the word of God. He wants somebody to help him with this old lazy, rebellious, flesh nature he still has. He wants somebody to urge him on and coax him on and if he gets backslidden and wants to get away from it, he can’t stay out there long, he’s gotta get back and says, “Pastor, preach again. I need the spiritual medicine. I know it’s for my good and I’m never happier than when you help me get realigned back to spiritual values.””

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

“Well, what’s a pastor to do? “Timothy, it’s gonna always be the case: continually call your people to spiritual values.” We all leak. Need to get refueled, refilled on Sunday morning. It helps some of you come back on Sunday night. Some of you leak out by about 3 in the afternoon. I know who you are and I love you but some of you need more preaching than you’re getting. Amen? You need more preaching than you’re getting. Your flesh needs more preaching than you’re getting. That’s what happens when I’m away for two weeks. I need more preaching than I’m getting sometimes.”

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

Yeah, that took a sharp turn. Alright, so according to Jeff, Paul told Timothy that believers in Christ, who belong to God, are packaged in unredeemed humanity? First off, where in the biblical text is that conversation? Secondly, what I think Jeff is saying is not that the Christian is unredeemed, but the original sin in our nature is what is not redeemed. He would be correct on that but wow, it’s like this pastor goes out of his way to steer clear of speaking of actual doctrine. Here is where things really get false, Jeff says that it’s not grace through faith in Christ that you need refueled on Sundays, it’s spiritual values; it’s law.

“You remember Korah in the Old Testament? Korah rose up against Moses and Korah said, “Who made you leader? Why are you calling all the shots? Why do you have the authority? The rest of us are holy too, the rest of us can hear from God too.” Now, I’m, I’m doing a Jeff Noblit amplification now. And it’s as if Moses said, “You boys better be careful. I didn’t sign up for this job. I was just keeping sheep and God told me to do this. So your problem’s not me, it’s God.” And a few series of events happened and God split the earth open and swallowed up Korah and all those who supported them and purged the church, took them right down into the fires of hell.”

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

“Can I just say to you with joy in my heart, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Korah spirit or a Sanballat and Tobiah at Grace Life Church. You know why? They never make it to me. Our men and I don’t just mean our elders, our men lovingly look at them and say, “We don’t do that here. If there’s a scriptural failure or a moral issue, tell us. We’ll get it fixed, but we don’t start movements to divide the church.””

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

“here’s what I tell a young pastor: be kind, be respectful to the older men but if they’re still ornery and difficult and there’s no real biblical violation, be sweet but look them in the eye and say, “It’s biblical, this is what we’re doing, you can either get on board or go on somewhere else.””

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

This seems like a pastor who is not only rough with his sheep but manipulates them. I’m assuming here that Jeff has had some issues with people coming to him and perhaps saying that he isn’t sticking to sound doctrine, maybe he isn’t giving them Christ crucified for their sins. He, seems to be manipulating them by claiming that you can’t claim he is doing something wrong because he is chosen by God and if you question Jeff then you are questioning God. This is just horrific.

“That’s how you don’t let them look down on your youthfulness and all of a sudden I think, “Well, he’s young but he’s got some backbone.” That’s basically what Paul’s saying. He’s saying what Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 16 when he said, “I want you men to act like men. Quit acting like a bunch of junior high drama schoolgirls””

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

He’s referencing 1 Corinthians 16:13 but seems to have not read vs. 14 “let all that you do, be done in love”, and the rest of the chapter that deals with submission and respect to fellow Christian’s. Jeff’s delivery is just harsh. He’s not even using the Law correctly its like he is abusing his sheep.

“Read the word of God and then the third part, exhortation he says here. Read it. Given them exhortation. The word “exhortation” here is the idea of appealing to the emotions. Charge them to change their thinking and change their behavior based on the word of God. That’s what a pastor’s to do, exhortation. Charge them, change your thinking, change your behavior based on the word of God. And then lastly he says here to teaching. Teaching has more the idea of a systematic explanation of the word of God. As 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, to rightly divide or in the New American Standard, accurately handling the word of God. Make sure your doctrine and your teaching is contextually, grammatically, culturally, historically, and systematically accurate. Don’t bring your eisegesis, your personal interpretation into it. Let the text speak for itself. Now that’s the pattern of preaching. “Timothy, this is a priority. Follow this pattern. Study it, read it before the people, exhort them and teach them the sound doctrines.” Now by the way, it’s really impossible to fully separate exhortation and teaching. When you teach sound doctrine you exhort people to change their lives to match it. When you exhort people to change their lives, it must be according to sound teaching or biblical doctrine. So those always go hand in hand.

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

Exhortation is not appealing to the emotions in the way that you were emotionally manipulating your sheep. The exhortation Paul is describing is that which follows the reading of Scripture, to admonish and encourage; law and gospel. He is discussing rightly distinquishing between law and gospel. Not to manipulate their emotions to get them to fall in line or to give them more Law.

Jeff seems to know his exegetical hermeneutics, as he can give a great definition as to what he should be giving in an expository sermon, yet he doesn’t do it.

“He says in verse 14, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you.” Now a couple of thoughts here. First of all, all people receive a spiritual gift mix at conversion. God deposited into every one of you at your conversion a unique mixture of gifts. You may have 32% exhortation, 45% service, 25% leadership, and whatever it may be. I sometimes think of it as a spiritual gift cocktail.”

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

Where is that taught in scripture? How do I find out Biblically how much leadership percentage I have? This isn’t biblical doctrine.

“So Paul’s trying to tell Timothy, “I know it’s hard. I know you’re discouraged. I know it doesn’t look like it’s working for now, but keep on keeping on making a priority of the preaching of the word of God because God’s given you the gift, people have recognized it, your church laid their hands on you and prayed for God to bless you in this. Don’t throw that away. Stay with the task.””

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

“Then he continues in verse 15 and says, “If you’ll do that no matter what they’re saying,” they may have some contempt toward you, you’re too young, you’re just emotional, you don’t have enough wisdom yet, may be some truth to all that. Here’s what you’ve gotta understand, you’ve got a young pastor, he may be all of those things but God may have called him to preach to you. Are you listening? And if God can use Balaam’s donkey, he can use a young preacher. Be careful, you may be accurate in saying he lacks some things but you may miss the will of God in not listening to him and honoring his office of pastoring and preaching.”

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

Be careful, Jeff says, you might be right that your pastor is lacking in doctrine and is harsh with his congregants, but if you do you may miss the will of God by not listening to that pastor and honoring his office. This is sheep beating. That’s all this is. What pastor would ever talk to his congregation that way? This sounds like something a tyrant would say.

“”Timothy, be balanced. You know you’ve got these elements, take some time to look after yourself.” Now I’m gonna pick up on this next week. I’ll just mention it and we’re done. “Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching.” I believe the reason why he’s got “and your teaching” is, “I’ve already told you how much energy your teaching’s gonna take. I’ve already told you to pour yourself out in that ministry. But in balance, take care of yourself too or your teaching’s gonna suffer.” Then he says, “persevere in these things,” now look at this, church, last phrase of verse 16, “for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourselves and those who hear you.” Now I want you to listen to me, I want you to sit up on the edge of your seat, I want you to listen to me: you making it to heaven in the ordinance and providence of God significantly depends on the faithfulness of your preaching pastor. God’s ordained this.
No wonder the Apostle Paul said, “Who is sufficient for such things?” Your eternal soul making it home is significantly dependent upon the faithfulness of your preaching pastor so the most righteously selfish thing you can do is take care of your pastor. Did you hear that? And can I say to you: I think you guys get an A there. The stress and the difficulties I face are just almost always self-induced. I’m my own worst enemy. You don’t dump stuff on me. Now some of you tried 25 years ago but you don’t dump stuff on me. You try to leave me free to be the preaching pastor God called me to be, but by doing so, he’s not writing to the church, he says to Timothy, “Timothy, if you stay in balance, stay effective for me, persevere strongly in your preaching and teaching but also think about yourself as you need to, then you will assure salvation for yourself and those in your church.” Now I’m gonna break that down and describe what I think all that means, Lord willing, next time we’re together.”

Blaze a Trail By Jeff Noblit

Jeff ends his sermon with some words of wisdom, your pastor can rightly handle the word and give you salvation, or he can give you other doctrines that if you believe them it will condemn you. This was a sermon preached on a Sunday service and not one mention of forgiveness or Christ crucified.

The law given in this sermon was to listen to your pastor or leave. This is not a lawful use of the law. This is a pastor who seems to hold himself in an untouchable place of power. Jeff didn’t do a very good job of rightly handling the word of God today. He gave a sermon that elevates his status and told everyone to listen to him because of his position in the church. He withheld the proper use of the law and slightly gave a head nod or a hat tip to a broad Gospel in the beginning of the sermon. Yet, mentioned no crucified Christ for your sins, ergo no gospel.

Doctrine is important. The Gospel of God taking on human flesh is important. It’s important that Jesus be a man so that He could be our substitute, He is the new Adam. It is important that Jesus is God because a man can’t die for the sins of the world. No angel, no creature, can take on sin and not be corrupted with sin. Jesus fulfilled the Law in your place, he also suffered and died in your place. He did everything for you so that you do not have to merit or do anything to try and earn your place in His family.

He gives you his righteousness, he baptized you into His name, and places you into His family. All of your sin is gone and even though they were so many that they were crimson red, they are now as white as snow. God doesn’t hate you, He doesn’t want to lash out at you or to beat you, He loves you. Dont let pastors like Jeff scare you into thinking that God is a tyrant. He is gentle and His yoke is light.

28  “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11: 28-30

The goal of this post is to get you to see that just because someone says something in God’s name, doesn’t mean that it is true. Yet, also, just because someone is standing in the stead and command of Christ doesn’t mean that he is giving you Christ. Jeff disobeyed God in many ways in his sermon, one of which is he didn’t give you God in human flesh, crucified for the forgiveness of your sins, and risen for your justification.

46 He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47  and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem

Luke 24: 46-47

Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God; and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already.

1 John 4: 1-3

I hope this post gives you an example as to how a sermon can be void of the Gospel, and how to listen to a sermon to rightly distinguish between law and gospel. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.

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9 thoughts on “‘Sheep Beating’ is not the Gospel

  1. Douglas, you spend a great deal of time belittling the law. Maybe, you should define what you believe is law (small letter things that are not required) and the Law (capital letter requirements of a Christian).

    Also, please do understand that the way you legislate how to read the gospel and how to interpret the gospel is a law as well which you insist must be understood and followed according to your understanding. So you may say the law is unimportant but the gospel is . . . is quite misleading. Are the words of the Psalm 118 (119 for you) now unimportant. Is the law no longer to be loved.

    Please note that God gave us the Law and that Satan also denigrates any laws. With the Law comes order and serves to lead us to holiness and to understand the holiness of the Lawgiver and that without the Law there is chaos and that it serves to lead us to sinfulness and presumption which is in itself a form of great pride.

    Even the Gospel which you love to refer did not even exist during the life of Christ nor in the lives of the Apostles. For 400 years we operated on a verbal or spoken gospel as it was passed down from father to son and from believer to believer. And, of course, there is that unanswerable question which is: where in the Bible does it say that it is the infallible Word of God? It is, but what men (actually group of men . . . a Church) told us that it was? And what was the Holy Spirit going to teach us and bring to our mind? Was it to chuck all rules? If so, then why did Christ say that whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever is loosed is bound in heaven? It seems to me that the Church has the ability to absolve sins and to bind us to laws that might serve as a roadmap to living a more perfect Christian life and to avoid those pitfalls which might leave us in the grips of Satan and his minions. Just curious as to how you might answer these questions.

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    1. The law is great it is God’s law. Yet we aren’t to be justified by the law. The law is fulfilled in Christ and in us by faith. In faith we want to and can fulfill the law, even though it’s never done in it’s fullest. Yet this cannot happen without the Gospel. It’s the Gospel that brings faith and the new obedience. To use the law as a means of justification or merit is to misuse the law and it’s how the entire world uses the law.

      From Mueller’s Dogmatics:

      The distinction between Law and Gospel is one that is made by Holy Scripture itself. For while at times the term Law is used for the entire Word of God or every revealed truth in Holy Scripture (Ps. 1, 2; 19, 7; 119, 97), nevertheless this term, in its proper and narrow sense, has a distinct meaning, which properly does not apply to the whole revealed Word of God. So, too, the term Gospel is sometimes applied to the entire doctrine of the Bible (Mark 1,1-15; Phil.4,15). Yet in its strict sense each of these terms denotes a definite message, which must not be identified with the entire Scripture content. Therefore, properly or strictly speaking, the Law is not Gospel, nor is the Gospel Law, but the two are opposites. Accurate definitions of them will readily prove this. The Formula of Concord defines the Law thus: “The Law is properly a divine doctrine which teaches what is right and pleasing to God and reproves everything that is sin and contrary to God’s will.” The same confession defines the Gospel in its narrow sense as follows: “The Gospel is properly such a doctrine as teaches what man who has not observed the Law and therefore is condemned by it is to believe, namely, that Christ has expiated, and made satisfaction for, all sins and has obtained and acquired for him, without any merit of his, forgiveness of sins, righteousness that avails before God, and eternal life.” (Epitome, V, 2. 4.) These definitions are Scriptural and nicely show the fundamental difference between the Law and the Gospel. How essential this difference is, is obvious from the fact that Holy Scripture expressly excludes the Law from the province of salvation. Its pronouncement is: “By grace are ye saved, … not of works,” Eph. 2, 8. 9. “Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified,” Rom. 3, 20. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law,” v. 28. 
      This distinction between the Law and the Gospel, which is so clearly taught in Holy Scripture, the Christian theologian must conscientiously observe and neither weaken the condemning force of the Law nor diminish the saving comfort of the Gospel. He must declare without qualification the whole guilt and condemnation of sin which the Law reveals. Ezek. 3, 18: “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die and thou give him not warning nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way to save his life, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” So also the Christian theologian must proclaim fully and without any qualification the whole consolation of the Gospel with its matchless offer of divine grace, pardon, and eternal life. Matt. 11, 28 : “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 1 Cor. 2, 2: “For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 
      Unless the Law and the Gospel are thus preached as two distinct and contradictory doctrines (Luther: plus quam contradictoria), the Christian religion is deprived of its distinct content, is paganized by the introduction of work-righteousness as a cause of salvation, and is therefore rendered incapable of saving sinners. The sinner indeed needs the Law in order that he may know his sin and the condemnation of God which rests upon him because of his sin; but he needs the Gospel in order that he may know divine grace, which through Christ Jesus has fully removed his sin and offers full forgiveness to him. Gal. 3, 10: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them”; v. 13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us.” Whenever the Law with its condemnation is weakened and sinners are taught to rely for salvation on the works of the Law, though only in part, then the Gospel, too, is corrupted, since a weakened Law means a weakened Gospel. The final result is that the sinner is robbed of the salvation which is offered in the Gospel; for this offer is received only by those who implicitly trust in its divine promises and cast themselves upon God’s mercy, in short, by those who absolutely repudiate the error of salvation by works. Gal. 5, 4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you whosoever of you are justified by the Law; ye are fallen from grace.” Gal. 3, 10: “As many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse.” As the Law must forever remain the “ministry of condemnation,” so the Gospel must forever remain the “ministration of righteousness,” 2 Cor. 3, 9. For a person is a Christian only in so far as he comforts himself against the terrors of conscience with the free and full promise of forgiveness, “without the deeds of the Law.” 
      This fundamental truth requires special emphasis today in view of the fact that both Romanism and modern Protestant sectarianism have discarded the Scriptural distinction between Law and Gospel and have mingled the two into each other. (Cp. Pieper, Chri.stliche Dogmatilc~ I, 84 ff.) The reason for this is obvious. Both Romanism and modern sectarianism are basically pagan; for both insist upon work-righteousness as a condition of salvation. Now, where work-righteousness is consistently taught, the distinction between Law and Gospel necessarily is eliminated, and each is deprived of its distinctive character. Salvation by works has room only in that type of theology which affirms that sin is not as hideous as Holy Scripture pictures it and that divine grace is not as glorious as the Gospel proclaims it. In other words, the paganistic error of salvation by work-righteousness is possible only if neither the Law nor the Gospel is taught in its truth and purity. Against this pernicious corruption of God’s holy Word let every true theologian be warned. Our divine Lord says: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. 5, 19; and St. Paul writes: “But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed,” Gal. 1, 8.-With regard to the use of Law and Gospel the following distinctions must be conscientiously observed:-
      a. Knowledge of sin must be taught from the Law; forgiveness of sin must be taught from the Gospel. Rom. 3, 20: “Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified.” Rom. 1, 16. 17: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth …• For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” All who teach forgiveness of sin from the Law or on the basis of work-righteousness are not Christian theologians, but false prophets, Gal. 5, 4. “I would they were even cut off which trouble you,” Gal. 5, 12. Since by the Law there is the knowledge of sin, it must be preached to secure sinners, who, filled with carnal pride, refuse to admit their guilt. Rom. 3, 19: “That every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God.” On the other hand, the Gospel must be proclaimed to contrite hearts, that is, to penitent sinners, who have been humbled by the Law, make no assertion of having any merit whatsoever of their own, and gladly accept salvation as a free gift. Luke 4, 18: “He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted.” It is needless to say that the right apportionment of Law- and Gospel preaching must remain a matter of pastoral wisdom. Nevertheless the true minister of Christ is above all a preacher of the Gospel and will therefore not deny his hearers a full and abundant measure of Gospel comfort. 
      b. By means of the Law the Christian theologian teaches what good works are~· but by means of the Gospel he produces true joy and zeal to do good works, Matt. 15, 1-6; 22, 35-40; 19, 16-22; Rom. 12, 1; Gal. 5, 24–26; Eph. 6, 5-10; 2 Cor. 8, 8. 9; etc. These diverse functions of the Law and the Gospel have been fittingly expressed by the axiom : Lex praescribit ~· evangelium inscribit. Luther writes: “A legalistic preacher compels by threats and punishments; a preacher of grace calls forth and moves by showing divine goodness and mercy.” (St. L., XII, 318.) 
      c. The Law checks sin only outwardly, while it increases sin inwardly~· but the Gospel, by converting the sinner, destroys sin both inwardly and outwardly. Rom. 7, 5: “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the Law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” V. 6 : “But now are we delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” Rom. 6, 14: “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the Law, but under grace.” This important truth is stated in the axiom: “Lex necat peccatorem, non peccatum; evangelium necat peccatum, non peccatorem.” Luther writes: ”Hence, whoever knows well this art of distinguishing between Law and Gospel, him place at the head and call him a doctor of Holy Scripture.” (St. L., IX, 802.)

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      1. Douglas, I could copy and paste a large portion from some document and avoid answering a question on my own as well.

        And I totally agree with St. Paul that faith (which in itself is grace) is how one gains salvation. But it does not destroy the law of God . . . it is in accord with the law which always pointed toward such a Savior; that the wages of sin are death. And death is indeed what occurred to our Lord in salvific act as he died nailed to a tree as decreed by the Old Testament.

        Even Paul ends Romans 3 with the following: “31 Do we, then, destroy the law through faith? God forbid: but we establish the law.” For it is by the grace of God that we even have faith, it is by that same grace that it becomes possible for us to abide by the law although it may take us a lifetime to see how we fail it even if it is in the smallest ways. Our saints have shown this over and over again. They overcame the most obvious sins against God’s law but they even felt remorse for the small imperfections in their intentions or actions that they were unable to correct. That does not take away their salvation but the grace of faith also gives one the will to please the Father of all who’s Will we are bound to at least want or try to abide by. What kind of son would I have been if I cared not a wit about what my father asked me to do because I knew that he would forgive me anyway? The law should be loved. Satan hates the law. Read Psalm 119 and tell me that David was wrong in given such praise to God’s law. He saw in the law a glimpse of the perfect justice of God and how utterly helpless we are to abide by such perfection without God’s grace. That salvation is won solely by God’s grace and the death of His only begotten Son does not change what is written in His Law and how Christ Himself lived in perfect accord with that law. Is that not the Imitation of Christ that a Kempis wrote about? Christ is not only a savior but He shows us by His short life that with Faith, Hope and Charity (all graces given us by God) one can, with enough perfection in these gifts live in imitation of our Lord. Not that it saved you but it is the natural way one who has received the Grace of Faith should and ought to live. And should we be sorrowful when we sin . . . you bet. God didn’t make you sin but He did show you, by your failure that you have not yet use His grace to its fullest. Some try and some think it is not necessary to try. To me that sounds like Satan whispering in the ear of Eve; “if you eat of this tree, you will not die”. Might it depend on how what law you break. One of the 10 commandments? All 10? Or if you feel no sorrow and do not seek reconciliation how then have you refused the grace of Faith that was given to you? It seems to me you look for a loophole of self-responsibility to take this gift as something as precious as the worldly guard their wealth. How much we need to pray for humility, pray for our failings, seek grace in overcoming our weaknesses etc. Otherwise, God’s law should never have been delivered in the first place as it is useless . . . at least this is how I read so much of what you write.

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      2. It seems, that you are talking about daily repentance, or the third use of the law, the Christian use. This is true. As I said the Law is good but not for justification. It is only after the Gospel that the law is useful for the Christian. Once the person stops using the law for justification it can be used to understand what a good work is, namely, how we love God and neighbor. This happens after justification.

        When I talk about, say a sermon review, where there isn’t much if any mention of the Gospel, then what happens is that third use is not in play. The law without the gospel is a law that is used to justify. The Gospel is what fuels a good work (third use of the law, or new obedience). Without the Gospel we only want to do the law out of fear of punishment or to merit justification.

        Protestants have a habit of only seeing the Gospel useful for the moment of conversion and then they go back to the law and leave the Gospel behind (as can be seen in these sermon reviews). Lutheran sermons are different. As the law is used to condemn and show what a good work is and the gospel is always presented to forgive those condemned sins and to motivate to do the good work. This is.. the proper distinction between law and gospel. Never mixed but always given. Hope this helps.

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  2. Then the law was useless for the OT saints? Half believed in an afterlife and the other half did not. However when Christ harrowed the souls from hell who did he empty from its clutches? Was it the doers of the law or the hearers only. I tend to think that some remained and others were freed . . . and the freed were saved by the law (which never stands alone) . . . it was the grace of both Faith and Hope in the Messiah that would come. They were rewarded for their hope and their faith and trying as best they could to abide by the will of God. We know the will of God (that all men be saved) but unless we hope and have faiths working in our soul then from whence comes love . . . especially sacrificial love that Christ explicitly showed to us on the Holy Cross? Do you accept his sacrifice and yet deny his Will for our lives and how we treat our neighbors etc.?

    I doubt you believe such but just want you to understand how many of your articles tend to hurl stones at the actual laws God gave to men and lived by when He dwelled with us. God delivered to us a Savior, the Law, the Prophets and even left us Sacraments to help us feel in a natural way the closeness and love He feels for us to give us these graces during our lives to urge us forward and to develop our conscience in accordance with His Laws. Christ is the Law and the Lamb of God sacrifice. He is All in all and His laws should not be treated as vulgar or useless.

    Isaiah 55:11 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

    “11 So shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it.”

    The law, whether delivered to Moses, the Prophets, the Saints, or the law operates as Isaiah describes above. So the law is made to prosper not to be made void.

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  3. Jock McSporran

    Douglas and Scoop – OK I skimmed through the post – and didn’t look at the original text of the sermon, but I have another angle on this. My starting point is 1 John 2v27

    As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.

    Now, this describes believers and should describe church-goers. Does this really describe the sort of people whom this sermon is aimed at? So either the preacher is arrogant and delusional – all these people would not be on the path of righteousness if he weren’t there to push them in the right direction – or else he is dealing with a bunch of heathens who are not Christians.

    Yes Scoop – of course, The Law (the moral law as given by the commandments) is crucial and Christians, with every fibre of their being, want to keep to The Law. But you do not get saved by keeping The Law (if you keep it – even though it is a terrible burden to you, you would gladly be shot of its restrictions and you’re only doing it to flee from the wrath to come).

    Paul’s usual style is indicatives (telling us about our position in Him) and then (after the indicatives) moves on to exhortations, telling us to act like it.

    If I heard a sermon like the one that Douglas described, I wouldn’t be interested in listening to the pastor any more. If I discovered that he actually had justification for speaking like that to the church where he is preaching, I would never again darken the doors of that church

    His listeners seem prepared to put up with it – therefore 1 John 2v27 does not apply to them – therefore they are not Christians and the church is not a Christian church.

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  4. The proper indication of “anointing” or reception of the Holy Spirit is to incite religious fervor in the souls of the believers as stated by John at the end of his speech: ’29 If you know, that he is just, know ye, that every one also, who doth justice, is born of him.”

    It doesn’t mean that all who listen are not doing their best to do justice as commanded by God but it does indicate that there is work to do if we are to grow in our faith . . . and, of course there are those who’s anointing or reception of the Holy Ghost is quickly forgotten and no effort to live up to the truths that the Holy Spirit delivered into the man. Should we continue in life to be reminded of the great calling that the Christian has been called to? What love is there in a man who says with his lips that he loves God and yet refuses to. even try to live according to the Will (the Laws) of God. And every Church contains members who stretch from the poor Christian to the advanced Christian. But that is no reason to give up on the those who are still advancing in their love of God and their desire to His Will. It does not save but (a lack of justice as stated above) sure is an indication as to where we are on our spiritual journey. And what is justice for the Christian if it is not the Will of God (HIs Law) done for Love of God and no other reason. Fear is type of acceptance of the Kingship and Infinite Wisdom and Love that are God’s attributes and a natural fear of His Perfect Justice is certainly cause of this. But the perfection of this anointing is done because we want to please our Father in Heaven . . . driven by supernatural and sacrificial love of the highest order.

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