Friday, September 15, 2017

Learning to Confess the Third Use of the Law

Lutherans love the word "confess" and "confessional".  We use confess as a term of unity.  We confess together, we can declare the same confession, we declare adherence to our common belief.  To confess is to use words together.

We confess the scripture to be God's revealed word to us.  We confess together that we are sinners in order to receive forgiveness.

There is this one item in our Book of Concord that seems to cause much consternation amongst Lutherans:  The Third Use of the Law.  It is found in The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord.

Have I bored you yet?  This is my attempt to get you up to speed, if you are not a Lutheran reading this post. There are other Christian traditions who also confess certain things, and then there are non-denominational kind of believers who have no formal confessions at all.  

Here is the part of the third use of the law that I want to discuss here: 

For although the Law is not made for a righteous man, as the apostle testifies 1 Tim. 1:9, but for the unrighteous, yet this is not to be understood in the bare meaning, that the justified are to live without law. For the Law of God has been written in their heart, and also to the first man immediately after his creation a law was given according to which he was to conduct himself. But the meaning of St. Paul is that the Law cannot burden with its curse those who have been reconciled to God through Christ; nor must it vex the regenerate with its coercion, because they have pleasure in God's Law after the inner man.

There are some Lutherans out there who do not hold to third use of the law.  I have had many interactions with them, and I also denied it for awhile.  Here is my story.

When I denied third use of the law, whenever a sin popped into my head, I wondered, "Is it okay if I do this?"  "If I am dead to the law, I must be free to pursue this sin I desire."  It would keep me up at night.  God is faithful and would not let my conscience abandon His law.  As I found out later, denying third use of the law is too good to be true.

I encountered people who flat out say there is no such thing as a third use, such as the theologian Gerhard Forde. After all, Luther never spoke of it.  What people forget was that we don't go by every word from Luther's mouth.

I am thankful  that we have the Book of Concord. Let's confess what is contained therein.


Have you ever been somewhere and were starving to death? At least, that's the saying. It's a bit melodramatic, isn't it? Starving to death. Anyway, you're really hungry for food but for whatever reason you have to wait.  Your stomach is noise. It aches from lack of food.

Some weeks are like that. I starve to hear the Gospel. All week, while at work, out in town, at home, you think you're not good enough. I hear negativity and feel like a failure.  I didn't do a job properly, I burned dinner, I forgot an errand, ads tells me I'm not pretty enough, and on and on. Some of it is self inflicted, other times it is inflicted upon me. Sometimes I get beat down by listening to other people's horrible ideas and opinions. Most of the time, it's my sins that haunt me. I'm starving for refreshment. I'm starving to hear how my sins are forgiven.

Then comes Sunday morning. I hear about Jesus and how amazing and selfless He is. Jesus is perfect. Of course He is, he's God! I hear of how he became the biggest sinner ever because he took everybody's sin upon Himself. I cannot fathom that. That's a lot of love.

Then I am refreshed. I can face the upcoming week. I have peace with God again.

Thank God for a big, fat Sunday feast!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pen to Paper or Fingers to Keyboard

Writing blogs.  It is a challenge.  Who am I writing for?  Sometimes it is for myself.  It helps me solidify my ideas, think them through. I haven't solidified my ideas here recently. Maybe it's because they have become less of a priority and are still in flux. I can't show you how many unpublished posts I have.  I do not think it's important that others know what changes have occurred.

Sometimes I think I am writing for other people.  This one is a challenge because I don't know who reads these ramblings of mine.  But I try it anyway, or I don't.  I let it slide.  Is it an exercise in futility? Who knows.

I received an email a few weeks ago asking me to return to writing my anonymous posts for their website.  I finally wrote another brief article for them. I write anonymously there because the topic is painful and close to me and those I love and know.  Others have found them helpful, so I write.

Does this sound like a diary entry?  Maybe it is.  Maybe that is all I have today.

Know that Jesus forgives you all your sin.  

CMP and Me

The summer of 2015 is when the Center for Medical Progress released it's investigative videos into the dark, violent world of Planned Parenthood.  The videos are difficult to watch. Each week, a new video was released. I began to post the videos and articles on my Facebook page.  There were daily articles that I would post. Anger and frustration began to rise within me.  The more those around me seemed to be blissfully callous, the more my frustration rose, the more frequently I posted.  I finally decided I wanted to help locally, so I called the Pregnancy Resource Center in town.

My appointment day arrived and I walked into the PRC office.  I spoke with the director for an hour, telling her I wanted to help as a result of the CMP videos that came out over the summer. Then she asked me to tell her about my abortion.  I couldn't hold back the tears as I relayed my story. At the end of the appointment, she asked if I would like to participate in a CARE group, a six week book study.

In the group, I was able to walk through the process of grieving and my Facebook postings stopped almost immediately.  After 30 years of hiding this shameful act that society does not want to hear about, I was able to talk about it with others who are also post abortive.

I fear I offended some of my dear friends on Facebook due to my early postings.  I am apologizing to you now.  Please don't hesitate to speak with me.  I am no longer beside myself.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cool Lutherans

One of my friends, Tracy, had a temporary roommate.  Tracy's roommate was finishing up a job assignment in town, while her retired husband was at their new home in another state.  June was going to be joining him as soon as her job assignment was complete.

Our small group from church will do things together outside of just doing church-y things.  We attended a dinner and a play together and June came along.  She came to our house when we had bible study here.  It was after we finished studying the Gospel of John and decided we would compare it to the movie, "Son of God."  We had dinner together and watched the movie over two weeks' of meetings. We are a group that likes to laugh and have fun, as well as dig into scripture.

At our last weekly meeting, where we are beginning to study Ruth, Tracy reported that June is happily in her new place and adjusting to their new life in their new community.  June and her husband decided they would look for a Lutheran church because she thought we were so cool as a group.  We whooped it up and praised God when we heard this news.  We were chuckling at the thought of someone thinking we are cool.  I think she was attracted to the Jesus in us, the delight we can have in being with one another, we were just being ourselves.  No program, no agenda, just sinners learning of their Savior.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rethinking Gerhard Forde

The 20th Century Theologian Gerhard Forde likes to say that "the Gospel puts an end to the voice of the law".  The reality is that it does not.

The accusations of the law to reveal our sin still has teeth, still chase us to Christ Jesus our Savior. We continue to see the horrors of our own sin, where we fall short.  The old Adam needs to be drowned daily by baptism.  By seeing who we now belong to, by remembering whose name was placed on us in our baptisms.

Jesus never teaches us to hate the law, or to behave as if God's commandments are non existent.  When I put my faith in Mr. Forde's words, I hated the law.  It scared me, chased me to and fro.  Now that I see the reality of Law and Gospel, I have peace restored once more.  We do not have Gospel alone.  Lutherans teach, believe and confess both law and gospel, all of God's Holy Writ.

One day God's commandments will be a reality for every believer.  We will dwell in them forever.  We will live in the house of the Lord, where pleasant lines are made for us.   Take delight, like King David did, in meditating on God's commandments. We will no longer be accused by our failures.  Until then, cling to Jesus and His Words about us, that we are forgiven and loved.

God is pleased with us.  He even likes us in our shortcomings.  After all, he knows we are weak and that we need a savior, so Christ, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, was provided.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Lonely Way

There is this peculiar phenomenon that happens to me on occasion.  I've mostly experienced it online, but last week or so have experienced it offline.  I am outcast, ignored, not included, avoided.

Other than my husband, parents, daughter, family, I am rejected.  It feels like a shunning.  It can be caused by sin on my part, or sin on the other person's part. It is the law I'm seeing, not the Gospel, not forgiveness, not Christ.

Sunday morning comes.  I remember my baptism.  Then in The Lord's Supper, I hear Jesus' voice.  I am purchased.  I am His and He is mine.