20 July 2010

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We will never achieve perfect sanctification in this life, but we must make a beginning and progress in this effort.  For it you do not increase, you will decrease.  And if you decrease, you will ultimately completely stop using what God has given you.  Finally, you will die off. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 136.

9 comments:

Paul McCain said...

This makes so much sense, it appears to be a Biblical and Confessional sentiment.

Anonymous said...

Does Walther provide us with a way of measuring our progress? Otherwise, how can we tell whether we are not already on the decline and at the edge of the abyss? And once you hit the skids, there is no stopping? How about plateaus? Have all of us not experienced those, the spiritual doldrums? What wonderful possibilities for keeping God’s people in constant fear! Continual worry about our “spiritual progress” is a form of self centeredness which prevents us from being concerned about the welfare of others. Our dear Lord, whose whole life was solely service to others, placed us into His Kingdom with the assurance that He has paid the price of admission for us, and has provided us with everything we need to live in that Kingdom. Rev. Peters had a wonderful sentence in his sermon for Pentecost 7, “Love is not a requirement from God but the fruit of hearts made new in baptism, that hear Christ speaking in the Scripture, and that are fed and nourished at the Word and Table of the Lord.” Walther was a great man of God, as was Luther, as was David. But none of them were infallible.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Anonymous said...

How do we know if we are progressing in sanctification? If we are frequently receiving God's gifts of Word and Sacrament in faith we are progressing. If we cut ourselves off from those gifts we are dying or dead. So how do we progress? Receive, or in other words, use God's gifts.

Christian

William Weedon said...

Yes, a growth in dependency. We grow, ironically, as He continues to empty us of all trust in ourselves and fosters total dependence upon Him, His mercy, His forgiveness, His life. I love the way that Kleinig deals with this whole concept of receptive spirituality in his book *Grace Upon Grace*.

Anonymous said...

Dear Christian and Rev. Weedon. Thank you, but I have again not made myself clear. It is not what you and I think about sanctification that concerns me, but the words of Walther in the original posting. I do not think that this particular quotation is scriptural. I suspect it is the “accepted pious wisdom of the day” which everyone agreed with, without analyzing its meaning, because it what was proclaimed from every pulpit. As we all do today, when the right string of pious words confronts us.

In the sunset of my life I have come to the conclusion that the most important words in all of Scripture are: “This is my beloved Son, with Him I am well pleased; listen to Him!” And so often we do not because our own notions of piety seem so much better.

All of God’s people grow to the extent that all have been given different gifts, as the Holy Spirit wills. Each person’s voyage is unique: some grow without stopping, some have their ups and downs, some hardly grow at all, and some are snatched up by a merciful Father in the last moments of their lives.

As we read in those syllogisms not so long ago: it is not about us, but about the promises of our faithful Lord. Otherwise how could we have the joy He promised us?

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Anonymous said...

Pr. Marquart,
I agree with your concerns. Sometimes when our progression has faltered all we are left with is the simple confession, "I am baptized."

Christian

Anonymous said...

Christian, I appreciate your comment. But I am not a Pr., I am an Mr. Nevertheless, I understand it is now fairly widely believed that even simple Mr.-s can be members of God’s Kingdom, but there is a question about how much progress we have to make in our sanctification.☺
Peace and Joy!
George

Anonymous said...

Mr. Marquart,
Sorry about the incorrect title. I wrongly connected your comment about proclamation from the pulpit with the sentence which followed. I am a layman as well, but none the less a baptized and sanctified member of God's Kingdom.

As far as progression in that sanctification goes, not at all if it is up to me, but I will leave it up to the Holy Ghost working through the Word of God.

Peace be to you,
Christian

Anonymous said...

No problem, Christian, I have been called worse.

And with you also,
George