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Tuesday, February 10, 2009 

The More Things Change…

One of the quickest ways to get my Sunday high school class to perk up and take notice is to talk about history. It has been my experience that one of the things that youth love to learn is the whys and the hows of how we got to where we are today. In their European history classes they all learn that Martin Luther kicked off the Reformation by nailing his ninety five theses to the some door protesting the church in Rome. What very few of them learn is that those ninety five theses are largely in opposition to the indulgences and the satisfaction of sins through human works which contradicts Scripture. It’s always fun to see the looks on their faces when you tell them that the Bishop of Rome still sells indulgences and still declares he has the authority to declare as righteous those who give charitable contributions, pray certain prayers, perform devotions or go on pilgrimages. Yep, the more things change…

I’m gonna have fun in my Sunday school class with this news story titled “For Catholics, A Door to Absolution Is Reopened” detailing the Roman churches very public return to a more open form of indulgences. From the story:

“Why are we bringing it back?” asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. “Because there is sin in the world.”

Yes, there is sin in the world but no work that we do will ever make satisfaction for the sin that do every second of every day whether we are aware of it or not. The satisfaction has been made at the cross and with Jesus’ atoning work we have been declared righteous by grace. The old Lutherans knew this when they confessed the one true faith at Augsburg in Article IV of the Augustana:

1] Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for 2] 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. 3] This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

The Roman opponents opposed justification by faith and not by works five hundred years ago and nothing at all has changed.

There are a good many folks in Lutheran circles these days that believe that the old Lutheran confessions need to be thrown away or put back in the dusty old vaults from whence they came. There are even those in leadership that call the people who look to the confessions and say these historic documents still confess the faith and condemn heresies as a bunch of “museum keepers” or “useless wordsmiths”. It’s evident from the news story that there are a good many people who really should dust off the historic confessions, read up, and see that errors that would take our eyes off Christ and His cross will always need to be condemned. That shouldn't be so hard, should it?

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"The Roman opponents opposed justification by faith and not by works five hundred years ago and nothing at all has changed."

So true. They can't leave the idolatry of 'the self' alone.

It is part and parcel of their make-up.

It is part and parcel of ALL of our make-ups! This is why the old Lutherans after confessing who God is in ACI go right to the black heart of the matter and state that all “are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence” in ACII.
Now I need to go and pull the log out of my own eye as it’s getting difficult to type. (as if I could type to begin with)

"It is part and parcel of ALL of our make-ups!"

So true. So true.

The one advantage we might have is that we know it.(by the grace of God)

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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