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Daily Growth in Faith and the Fruits It Produces

November 19th, 2012
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Sadly, I continue to read serious confusion among Lutherans who have been sucked into error and overstatement from people like Gerhard Forde, and others, who speak incorrectly about sanctification. Nothing like a bracing slap of reality from the Lutheran Confessions to correct errors about this. Enjoy this quote from the Large Catechism. Just the other day, I heard a person trying to explain away Christ’s words, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” as applying only by way of “second use of the Law” and thus directed at the unconverted, not to Christians. Huh?

Until the last day, the Holy Ghost abides with the holy congregation or Christendom, by means of which He fetches us to Christ and which He employs to teach and preach to us the Word, whereby He works and promotes sanctification, causing it [this community] daily to grow and become strong in the faith and its fruits which He produces. Source: The Large Catechism Part II/Article III.54; Triglotta, p. 691-93.


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Categories: Christian Life
  1. Guillaume
    June 4th, 2011 at 06:10 | #1

    Sanctification is given only by the gospel. And while the Law doesn’t “only” accuse, it is the Holy Spirit who determines how it will apply to the hearer. Still the best the Law can do is inform our actions as to the will of God. There is one freedom of God’s Law–we don’t have to make any up of our own and no one can make up their own laws and tell us they’re God’s.

  2. Rev. Michael Trask
    June 4th, 2011 at 08:29 | #2


    The disappearance of the 3rd use of the Law has been a problem. I think we Lutherans fear that it militates against the doctrine of Justification. But it doesn’t really.

    I wrestled with the third use myself. It is the Formula of Concord’s response to the Antinomians that snapped me out of it. God’s word does not hint at good works or imply good works, but commands them. These good works do not cause salvation, but are rather the result of it.

    The Christian has the joy of doing good. It’s joy because we do not work from a position of fear, but from the position of redeemed child of God through faith in Jesus. We get it. By Grace we have been snatched from the darkness, forgiven, saved, and we have begun to understand that we are to live as if in the daytime.

  3. Michael Mapus
    June 7th, 2011 at 08:47 | #3

    Thanks for the great post. I’ve been studying the Book of Proverbs, along with my daily reading of the Psalms, I’ve been simply amazed on how the Holy Spirit works! Throughout the day, when I’m confronted with many situations, the Holy Spirit has been bringing passages to mind from the Psalms and Proverbs to quide me thru. He not only has guided me, but also has convicted me, and then reminds me of my Baptismal Promise. This is truly the work of the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God as He intended it.

    I mention this because, growing up in my ALC congregation, I was taught that the Law only convicts, it’s only the Gospel we live out and mimick. Now being in the LCMS for ten years, I’ve heard from many clergymen, while not officially denying the existance of a 3rd use of the Law, it’s only purpose was to convict. Many would also mention that you shouldn’t study the Law, like Proverbs, as a guide for Christian living, but the Gospel is the only norm. This type of thinking must have come from Forde and the Valpo profs. Reading Luther’s sermons, Large Catechism and the study notes in the TLSB, has really opened my eyes to this. While I’m still in the flesh, I need God’s Law to guide and convict me. If I didn’t have His Law, I’m sure I would make up my own!

  4. November 20th, 2012 at 00:03 | #4

    Excellent quote, Pastor McCain. Thank you so much for your continued defense of what Scripture and the confessions teach about sanctification. It is important that you continue doing this. Many young confessional Lutherans are influenced today by pastors who say they steadfastly uphold the Book of Concord…..yet deny what our synod has always upheld and what our confessions clearly teach. I don’t see why Article VI of the FC is so hard for some to understand. We are no longer “under” the Law (Romans 8:2), but under grace. Nevertheless we are “in” the Law (Romans 13:9; Ps. 119:32) as we walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). As the Formula of Concord says, “Thereafter, the Holy Spirit uses the Law in order to teach the regenerate from it and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is ‘the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’” (Romans 12:2) And in “what good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk.” (Ephesians 2:10). Just because we are liberated from the curse of the Law does not mean we should not daily exercise ourselves IN it. Our confessions teach here regarding the Third Use that the Law “should be constantly held up to the believers and be diligently encouraged for them without ceasing.” The confessions specifically reject the idea that the regenerate need “no instruction in the Law as to what they are duty bound to do according to God’s will.” Of course the Gospel is what does, produces, and works “toward the new obedience of believers”, and so the power that motivates the new man in Christ comes from the forgiveness of sins, but the Law does have “an office in this matter” (regarding the believers’ good works). And yet the error condemned by our confessors, that “the regenerate do not learn the new obedience from the Law”, is still taught by so many. So keep up the good work, Paul. As you so well know, the times may change, but the controversies remain the same. May your efforts direct many to the concord so wisely provided for us in our Lutheran Confessions.

  5. Jonathan Trost
    November 20th, 2012 at 14:10 | #5

    Many thanks for that, Pastor!

    It brought to mind my confirmation verse:

    “As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Col 2:6,7

    That was followed by these words from Pastor Schroeder:

    “Jonathan, as God’s grace makes possible, so live your life as if your very salvation depends on how well you do it. But, gratefully abide in the sure and certain knowledge that it does not.”

    “Abide” – an old-fashion word, I know. But, maybe that’s why I remember Pastor’s words to this day.

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