True and False Christ
I am increasingly concerned about preaching that does not deliver properly either Law or Gospel, that in an effort, well-meaning no doubt, to put forward the "proper distinction" between the two, ends up falling into antinomian notions about the Christian Faith, thus finally delivering neither Law nor Gospel. The formulaic sermons I often read go something like this: you are of course a sinner. You do bad things. You feel bad about it. You are sinful! But…Jesus loves you and saves you. Come take Holy Communion. Amen. What about sanctification? What about good works? When we neglect sanctification are we preaching the true and real Christ? What do you say? I would respectfully suggest that we simply must free ourselves of the idea that specifically urging our people to good works is inappropriate, or that if we point out how sinful people are and how they do not keep God’s Law that is sufficient for a proper exhortation to good works. Read on for what one Lutheran had to say about it:
Christ wants to cover our sins, but He also wants to take them away. He wants to clothe us with His righteousness, but He also wants to take shape in us, to be the High Priest who reconciles us with God, and to the King who rules over and in us. He suffered and died to atone for our sins, but He also rose and ascended into heaven that He might live in us and we in Him and so we might walk in a new life. For this reason, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him…The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:6, 8). Therefore, whoever has trusted in a Christ who would allow him to remain in his sins yet to come into heaven without repentance, without conversion, without sanctification and without self-denial needs to know that there is no such Christ. His Christ is a false Christ, who will not rescue him from death, damnation, and judgment, but will forsake him in the greatest distress. Whoever wants the right Christ must turn to Him whom God made our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. With Him there is salvation. He helps against sin, trouble, and death. To Him be praise and glory in eternity.
C.F.W. Walther, “God Grant It” (CPH: 2006), p. 889.