Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Raging Horde of Enthusiasts

The other day I heard a sermon in which the pastor was praying for God to speak to the hearts of those in attendance. This is a normal prayer which is prayed many times during worship services. What was remarkable is that in the prayer he said: “We know O God that Thou dost work in the hearts of your children. We are not sure how or when your Spirit works but we know He does.” This was quite surprising for after the prayer he read from God’s word. Why would he insist on reading the bible to the people if he did not in his heart of hearts believe that God works thru the word.

From the Book of Concord Smalcald Articles Part 3 Article 8: Confession
We must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one except through or with the preceding outward Word. This protects us from the enthusiasts (who boast that they have the Spirit without the Word)…

Later Luther states that the papists and Muhammad are the heresies that are protected against by this insistence. Today the list has increased of the errors brought about by those who look outside the word of God for inspiration and direction. St Paul addressed this issue to the church at Galatia.

Galatians 3: 1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith. ESV

Notice that he referred to the hearing with faith two times. This was enough in his estimation to protect from the legalism being perpetrated on that assembly. This legalism was fighting against the finished work of Jesus’ perfect life, death, burial and resurrection for us sinners as completing salvation and nothing need be added.

So what of today? We see many conservative teachers which are either knowingly or unknowingly directing their hearers to Rome. This is done by not teaching the word as a sure promise of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit which undermines faith in the finished work of Jesus. Lord have mercy!

Another way it is undermined is similar to what the papist would use. “What about those who never hear the word preached how are they saved?” This question is underhanded and not very subtle in an attempt to question the validity of God’s word. We are not told the answer to that question and to seek to answer it one would fall into error. Suffice it to say that God is merciful and will always do the right thing.

Father grant us faith to hold fast to your sure and blessed promises in the Bible in these perilous times and lead us to life everlasting. Amen †


orthodoxy hunter said...

I've been following your blog for a few months now and I offer a hearty amen to everything... but I question this just a little bit.

Faith comes by hearing, there's no denying that. But, nowhere does it say that faith can't and won't come by other means. There were no books to read in most peoples homes. God has a great design, because even the illiterate can hear the word. But, I think faith can come from reading too. I question anybody who denies this because of the deaf. How would the deaf believe?

I have this question for a few people lately, but your post provoked me to comment here.

Andy(honest) said...

Dave, this was a great post. As you know, this is something I struggle with at times. I.e. wanting to hear from God, but forgetting that God speaks to us through the reading and preaching of the Bible. Thanks for the great reminder and the great post!

I finally figured out something that has been bothering me. I have been asking myself, "how can someone be a five point Lutheran?" But just a moment ago I realized it was 5 PINT Lutheran!!

- Andy