Full Text for Conference Paper on Romans 4:5 (Text)

arnurnr~ta m~tn1ngirul flnut1}ly Continuing LEHRE UNO WEHRE MAGAZIN FUER Ev.-LUTH. HOMlLETlK THEOLOGICAL QUARTERL Y-THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Vol.xvm May, 1947 CONTENTS The lUelanchthonian Blight. Richard R. Caemmerer Conference Paper on Romans 4:5. H . J. Bollman . Sennon Study on Micah 7:14-20. Th. Laetsch Outlines on the Nitzsch Gospel Selections Miscellanea Theological Observer Book Review No.5 Pap 321 338 M8 364) __ _ 374 388 .396 Ein Predlger muss n!cbt alleln w d - den. aJao daM er die Scbafe unter- weise. wle ale recbte ChrIsten sollen seln.sondern auch daneben den Woe1- fen wehnn. da8s lie die Schafe n!cbt angrelfen und mit falscber Lehre ver- fuehren und Irrtum elnfuehren. Es Jst Jteln Dtag. du die Leute mehr bel der Klrcbe behae1t dean die gute Predlgt. - Apologte. An. 24 Luthe7- If the trumpet live an uncertain sound. who ahall prepare hlmIelf to the battle ? - 1 COf'. 14:3 Published by the Ev. Luth. Synod of Missouri, Ohio, aud Other States CONCORDIA PUBUSBING BOUSE, St. Louis 18, Mo. pUKftIJ IN 17 ... &. 338 CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5 clean heart, and God will and does account us entirely right- eous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator. And al- though sin in the flesh has not yet been altogether removed or become dead, yet He will not punish or remember it. And such faith, renewal, and forgiveness of sins is followed by good works. And what there is still sinful or imperfect also in them, shall not be accounted as sin or defect, even for Christ's sake; but the entire man, both as to his person and his works, is to be called and to be righteous and holy from pure grace and mercy, shed upon us and spread over us in Christ.54 Another antidote is to realize the evangelical character of the ministry. That means emphasizing the sense of purpose and the will to serve people. It means drawing upon the impulses of the new man in Christ for the functions of the ministry. It means employing a technique of ministry which recognizes the handicaps and the essential paganism in mar- shaling people to a conformity to code, and instead endeavors to bring the propulsion of the new life through Jesus Christ to bear on men through Gospel and Sacrament. St. Louis, Mo. Conference Paper on Romans 4:5 By H. J. BOUMAN A very personal reason prompts the selection of my topic. In my senior year at the Seminary, I had not yet really learned what Christianity really is. To be sure, I was not a scoffer. Far from it. I yearned for the honor of being a Christian, but I did not dare. The sainted Dr. Bente had succeeded in crushing all my pride in human wisdom. In his lectures on the philosophical systems, ancient, medieval, and modern, he had shown us that human reason the moment it tried to explain transcendental problems disregards its own rules of logic in its deductive and inductive reasonings. And the reason for this phenomenon is not so much its in- ability to explain matters beyond its sphere, but its bias, its being prejudiced by sin, by its innate enmity against God. Thus all the thinking of natural man regarding sin, death, future life, God, etc., is characterized by utter failure. I had lost all pride of, and confidence in, the power of human wisdom. 54 Luther, Smalcald Articles, Triglot, p. 499. CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5 339 The sainted Dr. Graebner, in his lectures' on church his- tory, showed us the miracle of the Church in this world. In the midst of hostile surroundings, despite all attempts to suppress it, that wonderful Church not only held its own but also grew and conquered; it marched victoriously across the lands and through the centuries. And its weapon was what to human reason appeared to be utter foolishness- the Gospel of salvation l?y Christ, who died for us on the Cross. From a human viewpoint it should have failed from the start, but it did not. Thus the story of the Church proved to me that a supernatural power is active in its existence and growth, and that caused to grow in my soul a profound admiration for it, and a great longing to be a member of this marvelous institution. But again I say, I did not dare. Despite all the exegesis and dogmatics and the sermons I heard and the reading I did I was held captive by the idea that I had to make myself worthy of that honor. I thought my Savior would not accept me unless my remorse over sin had reached a certain depth and the control and restraint of my natural desires had achieved a certain degree. Outwardly there was no difference between me and my fellow students, but inwardly I was thoroughly unhappy, unsure, and often on the verge of despair. Then, one day in November of 1898, the sainted Dr. Stoeck- hardt explained Rom. 4: 5 to us. While I was listening to his words, something happened to me. It was as though a great light illumined my soul; unutterable joy and happiness filled my heart; going to my room, I walked on air. Now I saw what justification really is, now I understood the wonderful meaning of words like these: Jesus came to save sinners, to save that which is lost, etc. The real meaning of grace was revealed to me. True, the emotions I had on that day did not last and remain, but, thank God, the knowledge of what justi- fication, grace, and forgiveness of sin mean, did remain. I am therefore glad to speak to you on this theme and to emphasize the immense importance of the doctrine of justification in our preaching and practical work. I TiP bE Ill] EQyasollEV(fJ In the matter of obtaining righteousness before God there are only two ways thinkable, and these two ways exclude each 340 CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5 other. In verse 4 Paul points out one way and in verse five the other. Only one way can be the true, successful way, not both, neither the two combined. It is either - or. That is of what the adversative particle as reminds us. What is stated here is in opposition to what is stated in verse 4 ("Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt"). If God calls a man righteous because he worked for it, then it is not grace, but a reward. But the opposite ob- tains, as is shown in our verse. "To him that worketh not." That is one who has aban- doned the idea of gaining the favor of God by his own works. An EQyal;o!!EVO£ is one who tries to earn something by his own efforts, to become righteous before God. Paul flatly con- demns that idea, but human reason opines it to be the only true way, a way to preserve human dignity. Natural man's thinking is thoroughly legalistic. We find this among all men, civilized and uncivilized. Even among people on the lowest plane of civilization the legalistic idea prevails that man must gain the favor of God or the gods or avert their wrath by his own efforts. All pagan philosophers knew of no other way. This idea dominated the thinking of the Phari- sees of old. The same idea prevails among the worldly wise. In the Critique of Pure Reason, by the famous philosopher Emanuel Kant, I found this statement: "Legality means that an act is done according to a law, but not because of that law. Morality means that an act is done not only according to, but also because of the law." That seems to be a fine state- ment. But that Kant does not define therewith Christian morality, which means that an act is done not only according to and because of the Law, but also because of gratitude for God's grace in Christ Jesus, is evident from his statements. His statement about the categorical imperative, which re- veals that his morality is nothing more than the morality of a slave, teaches that the Law forces him to work to become righteous before God. This idea pervades also all our liter- ature of fiction. The good wins in the end, and the bad fails. But there is more to say. This legalism is. so thoroughly dominant in human think- ing that it has again and again poisoned and subverted the thinking and teaching in the . Christian churches. There is CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4: 5 341 the Roman Church. To be sure, there is still essential Chris- tian teaching. Christ is proclaimed as the Savior of man- kind. In one Roman catechism I found an explanation of the Second Article which was beautiful, almost like our own. They speak about the grace of God, faith, etc., but the entire body of their teaching is vitiated by the idea that one must make himself worthy of the grace of God, that Christ will not accept the sinner, will not grant him forgiveness of his sins, unless he properly repents and conforms to certain rules established by the Church. Luther, the monk, believed this, and therefore he fasted and prayed and lashed his body to appease Christ and become worthy of receiving forgiveness. Something similar happened to our own Dr. Walther in his university days. That is the reason why serious-minded men and women sought refuge in the life in monasteries. This legalistic idea has crept into Protestant churches too; hence the widespread abandonment of the true Gospel of grace. To many Christ is the Savior not because He as our Substi- tute suffered the penalty for sin, not because by His active obedience and passive obedience He prepared the righteous- ness of God for us, but because He showed us the way back to God, because He became for us a Pattern to copy. We must become Christlike, they say, then we shall be God's children again. Some go so far as to maintain that modern man is able to find his way back to God in his own way. And the result is the denial of verbal inspiration of the Bible and the scornful rejection of the substitutionary work of Christ. In a widely disseminated address, delivered Jan. 31, 1946, John D. Rockefeller wants to unite all churches. He pro- nounces "ordinance, ritual, creed, all nonessential for admis- sion into the kingdom of God, or His Church. A life, not a creed, would be the test. Not even Baptism or the Lord's Supper are necessary for membership." Why should they be? To him they are mere symbols anyhow. "If you want to observe them, good; if not, good too. You need no creed, individual belief; only be good and fight the evil. The essence of true religion is to live a Christlike life. To em- phasize the responsibility of the individual to his Maker was Christ's mission on earth." "Means of grace are not neces- sary; they have nothing to convey." If you boil down all he said, it comes to this: you must work to establish good 342 CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5 spiritual relation between the soul and its God. What this man wants is that Catholics and Jews and Protestants unite in believing in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. It is pagan religion. "Has Christianity failed?" he asks. My answer is: "Yes, your kind of Christianity has failed and always will." The theme of his lecture was: "The Christian Church-What of Its Future?" My answer is: "The future of your kind of Christian Church is disaster." The cultured professor of philosophy, the polished gentle- man in the modernist pulpit, the betinsled so-called Holy Father in Rome, the whirling dervish, the self-torturing fakir, the flaggelants of the medieval ages, the boomerang-throwing savage in Australia, the sun-worshiping Aztecs, the pipe- smoking Indian, the Mongolian with his prayer mills grinding out his prayers as long as the wind blows, the fur-clad Eskimo, the cannibal of Polynesia, the fanatic worshipers of Allah, Jews, and Gentiles, all, without exception, agree in the prin- ciple of work-righteousness. Human reason can rise to no higher plane than to think: I must be an 1\)yat6[.lEvo~) I must work for God's favor. But we must also look into our own heart. Make no mistake, also true Christians are made to feel the impact of this legalism. Why are they at times not fully tasting the joy of salvation? Why are they perturbed in the spirit by fear and uncertainty? Why are they so slow in trusting the Lord's beneficent guiding? Why are they cast down in times of adversity? And this often happens to Christians whom we look upon as pillars of the church. It is the feeling of unworthiness. They would like to feel a remorse like David's or Peter's, but the penitential tears do not come. They would like to curb and control the desires of their flesh, but they often fail in this. They would like to show their gratitude for God's grace in a spectacular manner, but their flesh is too strong. This shortcoming, this failure, causes them to doubt that they are accepted children of God. It is a sore aflliction. But what is often behind all of this? The idea that their state of grace depends upon their worthiness. Legalism has corrupted childlike faith in the grace of God. Instead of not working they begin what their carnal reason suggests: they work. But the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write: "To him that worketh not! Worketh not!! NOT!!! CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5 343 By that he condemns all attempts to gain God's favor by our own efforts as contrary to God's plan and wisdom. That is a hard lesson to learn, and it cannot be learned in one sitting. It takes our whole lifetime, and then we shall not have mastered it. Let us watch and pray that legalism does not weaken or destroy the joy in our salvation. We must always remember the true purpose of the Law. That purpose is not to make us EQyu~6f!fVOL, but to make us see and realize our great sinfulness and total helplessness, so that we become ~t~ EQyu~6f!fvOL in the matter of justification. II II LaTf'lJOv-n M EJt!, TOV i'H%