Thursday, June 20, 2019

"In this day and age, orthodoxy is absurd."

Frequently I hear it said, as a refutation of this or that orthodox proposition, “In this day and age,” that proposition is absurd. There are many variant formulations of the idea. Sometimes it is stated as, “This is the 21st century. We are not controlled by the darkness of the past.”

Leaving aside for the moment whatever particular proposition is being refuted, let’s look at a different issue arising from this:  the source of authority, which is Scripture alone.

Is a day a source of authority? Is a time a source of authority? Is an age a source of authority? Does Scripture change with days, times, and ages? Does God change his Word through time?

The fundamental epistemology of "in this day and age" is nothing better than a mere zeitgeist, as if the First Commandment said, "You shall have no other zeitgeist before now."

It might seem convenient to have an evolving Word of God, because it leaves us prerogatives to approach Scripture on a smorgasbord basis, eating only what we like.

But be careful what you ask for. If Scripture is evolving, then the foods you like also are subject to being evolved into oblivion. You like the Gospel? You like forgiveness of sin? How quaint. On your “day and time” epistemology, they will evolve away. Time will march past them. The Gospel and your forgiveness will lie in a dark past.

Under the guise of being so accepting and nice, the final cruelty lurks: the cruelty of no gospel. With no gospel, even the notion of your own self will become a quaint anachronism. Without the Gospel, a stable Word of a stable God, you will not be saved from evolution, to say nothing of not being saved from your sin. With evolution of the Word of God, you already, right now, have neither significance nor value.

You have significance and value because the Word of God says you do. Do yourself a favor. Believe the Word of God.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Only a slight variation from the Word

When Satan seeks to supplant truth with error he is not so foolish as outright to propose that error be accepted. At the fall he was subtle enough not to suggest that. He did not propose outright rebellion against God. He suggested only a slight variation from what God had said, "Is it really true that you cannot eat from every tree?" and later on, "You will not exactly die because God knows that you will become like Him." But once he had wedged in even a little unbelief he drove it farther and farther until it ended in open rebellion against God.

That has been the progress from truth to error until this day. First, error begs for tolerance of only a slight variation from the truth; then, it becomes bolder and demands equality; then it takes the upper hand over truth; and finally, error becomes completely intolerant of truth. The idea that what you believe makes little or no difference is the first step away from the truth. It suggests compromise with error. It is this that has opened the ears of many a Lutheran to the falsehoods of new religions. This is why, for instance, a well-dressed and well-groomed Mormon, when he comes to your door, says he is not trying to win converts at all, but that he is only trying to remove certain misconceptions about the Mor­mons so as to create a better understanding. This is also why the "Two-by-Twos" call themselves non-sectarian and say they have no creed; they are only traveling "evangelists" preaching the Gos­pel. This gives the impression that they are not proposing any change from your old faith at all. If the preacher of a "new religion" can send a Lutheran away from his first few meetings saying, "They aren't trying to get us to change over," or "I can't see any difference between what they preach and what our own pastor preaches," or "I can't see why their religion isn't just as good as ours," then the first and most important step in winning that Lutheran over to their new religion has been made. In the name of tolerance, error has driven in the point of its wedge.
Rev. Dr. Casper B. Nervig, Christian Truth and Religious Delusions (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1941), pp. 4-5.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Gethsemane: Jesus sees sin rightly for us, and it was killing him for our salvation

In Gethsemane, Jesus faced something more than we think. Not only that He was going to suffer the cross (not to make that a small matter, and not to exclude it from Gethsemane), but that He would be made sin for us.

How far did this being made sin go? He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. So He never sinned.

The being made sin was firstly forensic, that our sin was imputed to him so that his righteousness could be imputed to us. That He does for us as Surety, and by it we receive justification.

As Mediator, in sympathy for sinners, He faced in conscience what it would be like to be a sinner. This is based on the forensic aspect of the Cross, and it adds a dimension. This is not a conscience guilty of its own sin, yet it is a conscience that feels the guilt of sin rightly for others. It is pro nobis, for us, not for himself.

This was the horror that suddenly assaulted him in Gethsemane, ekthambeo, “sore amazed.” Jesus "began to be sore amazed." We hardly lament being sinners, but Jesus lamented it rightly for us.

And that, sin, as only a holy person can see it (sinners hardly see sin), would have killed him right there and then, had not the angels strengthened him. That is what is going on when He says, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful unto death.” His language “unto death” signifies a dying right there and then in Gethsemane, from the sudden assaulting horror in conscience over our sin, and the angels did not make it any better. They only strengthened him to survive Gethsemane and die for us where and when He must to save us, on the Cross.

It is Maundy Thursday, and we still don’t see sin rightly, but Jesus saw it rightly for us, and it was killing him, for our salvation.