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Larry - KY

The whole Law/Gospel distinction was one of those tremendous Gospel “epiphanies” for me at a very very very long and increasingly dark doubting almost suicidal lack of assurance times in my life. I was battling between believer’s baptism and “am I elect” among other things. The only thing that kept me ‘holding’ on was my wife and the fear that if I’m ‘not elect’ then why usher in my death sentence. It was about a 5 to 6 year ordeal that literally, no joke, no exaggeration, a 7 day a week, all waking hours consuming of my mind and soul, “am I really saved”. I used to rake my inward self, past experiences, changes in my life, raw raw raw to the n-th detail. I’m not exaggerating at all. I tried every “evangelical” formula out there from promise keepers to witnessing to some mission work, rededicating, praying 2 to 3 hours early in the morning before work you name it. I tried the old Puritan inward raking books, which made things worse, try examining yourself say according to Edward’s “Religious Affections”, the only thing you will be SURE of is you are utterly hopelessly lost. It consumed my home life, church life and work life and more than a few times thoughts of ending it all, like Judas, arose – especially the most intense moments. Take a mix of “evangelicalism” + “post Calvin puritan Calvinism” + “Election” + “believers (fale idealology) baptism” + “memorial view of the Supper” and you have a SURE FIRE mix of NEVER having the faith.

Law/Gospel as a distinction was a, “I’ve never heard this before”, it was like hearing the Gospel, in a sense, for the first time again. Next was theology of Cross Vs. theology of Glory, which was a BIGGER epiphany for me, it made tremendous sense to me because I “lived” that Disputation. Luther’s HD was like a biography of myself to me.

I use to tell my wife constantly back then, desperate and dying inwardly, “how do you know?” I’d tell her, “How sweet it was for Mary to hear from the very lips of Jesus, His voice, His words…Mary your sins are forgiven you. How sweet it was to hear God say HER name and ‘YOUR sins are forgiven you’ from God’s own mouth and voice.” What I was showing there by how I was living it out, but unaware of in a formal sense, was the DIRE NEED to hear the “FOR YOU” that Luther so spoke of as crucial to the Gospel. I heard it in general and understood it ‘for others’ but didn’t hear “FOR YOU (Larry)” and the PRIME deceiver on this was “believer’s baptism”. The devil via that doctrine of his had kept Christ one inch yet infinitely from me.

The first time I heard a Lutheran show in baptism how the “FOR YOU” is there, it is God’s work and not mine or the pastors, God writing His name upon me, and particularly the name of Jesus meaning He will save His people from their sins, my whole life changed for me. Suddenly those verses I didn’t know whether were mine to have and rest in or not, like Romans 8, “If God is for us who can be against us…”, opened up to me and heaven poured out upon me as paradise came to me and was mine. Before hand those verses sounded good (for others) and terrifying (for me), because I could hear them for others but not for me. It only served to increase the forsakenness of myself, thinking, I don’t even have this grace (making Law out of Gospel is WORSE than just plain Law). But when the FOR ME came in, and especially in Holy Baptism, Jesus delivered me again from the enemy’s hands.

If people could just believe and “get” that, see the Gospel and Cross there and FOR THEM in baptism (and by extension the Lord’s Supper), believers baptism would fall to the Christ obscuring deception that it is (Luther SAW this in the Anabaptist, HE SAW IT CLEARLY). I’ve discussed this with dear Baptist friends of mine and all the usual arguments over that arise. But at last I tell them;

“You don’t understand how sure and why it is certain to me that ‘BB’ is complete error and devilish. It’s not because I’m trying to be mean or trying to ‘be right’ for the sake of winning the argument or even that some arguments are better than others. Arguments alone will NEVER get you there, you have to SEE the Cross for you there, faith alone sees it. Rather, ALL your arguments, the BEST of them, even if better than mine, are at the end of the day like so many dust balls tossed at a Abrams Tank…worthless. Why? Because they are “bad arguments”? No, not at all. Rather, because if you see Christ, the Cross, the blood in the water, the name of God written upon you FOR YOU, the Gospel in baptism no miserable argument no matter how well formulated and by the greatest of saintly men produced can pull Jesus out of your hands. God’s name in baptism FOR YOU is so powerful, THAT Gospel is life itself such that the Cross FOR YOU in baptism is worth being tortured to death for before EVER giving it up, even to the best of friends an brothers, because of what it is TO YOU and to others…In short it’s Christ crucified for me. So, much less are mere arguments of men than the sword on one’s throat to give it up.”

I FIRMLY believe that if a Baptist could just see that and trust it, they’d never turn back, I’m convinced of it. But the legalism strain blinds people from it, just as I was. Legalism darkens not enlightens scripture, I cannot plead that enough with people. E.g. In the account in the Acts of the Apostles where the Ethiopian Eunice is reading in Isaiah, that OT passage as Gospel is just like a blacked out page to “believers only”, the doctrine blacks it out. If you reference the passage he’s reading it ends in the preceding chapter where it says that I (God) will sprinkle the nations (of which the E. Eunice is, a Nations/Gentile person, i.e. not of the Jews). Believer’s only doctrine misses, due to the view, as I too did, the great Gospel there that the EE rejoiced over and how he understood to be baptized. Because in that OT passage it clearly states that it is God doing the sprinkling (baptizing) and that it will, in that day, go out to the nations (Gentiles). To this the EE says, “what prevents me”. Indeed! And then he went away rejoicing MOST assured of salvation because he KNEW God just baptized him, it was FOR HIM. WHO WOULDN”T go away REJOICING having known what God just did, there’s the ‘voice’ of Jesus, the FOR ME/YOU, saying, “Larry/whoever, your sins are forgiven YOU specifically”! But in ‘believers only’ thought, due to the legal strain in the doctrine this passage as the Gospel is as if it was never written, blackened out and useless, even though the physical words are still “visible” to the eye (seeing but never seeing, needing eyes to see and ears to hear with). Two reasons show this legal black paint over the text:

1. The legalism of “immersion” blackens it out because surely “sprinkling” has nothing to do with baptism since ‘surely’ real baptism is by immersion only (you must become a Jew first by circumcision) as the Scriptures are searched so that ‘by them we think we have life’ (they went down and came back up - legalism). See how clever the devil indirectly attacks the Gospel! Something as simple as a legalistic ‘mode of baptism’ inserted shuts out the Gospel there for the reader and ‘sprinkling’ becomes a much more Gnostic idea but ‘sprinkling’ certainly cannot be baptism. Yet, it is that very thing the gentile/nation EE saw and the reason he said what prevents me, a gentile heretofore not allowed in, from receiving the gift of God and God’s name in baptism, “Jesus” written upon him, that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ FOR HIM ON HIM.
2. The legalism of “believers only” itself kills the Gospel doubly. Since the OT Isaiah passage on God sprinkling the gentiles is not about baptism, it cannot be that God does the work in baptism which is contained in that very same verse on “sprinkling”. God surely doesn’t come in ordinary water not much more exciting than the ordinary birth of Jesus (The Divine packed in nothing more glorious than ordinary child birth), but by some ethereal conversion bolt out of the blue (more Gnostic and pagan than Christian). So, the believer only doctrine forces one to again take up and “search the scriptures and think that by them one has life”. And not surprisingly at all such a search leads back to the Acts passage in which the EE actively believing becomes a NEW work and the “great” thing to be shown the active moving of faith and upon that basis the EE is baptized. Jesus says, infants exemplify the Kingdom, but believers only says adults do. Who should one listen to? Again the cleverness of the devil is here as he shifts the object of faith - the Gospel and the Gospel in baptism as the work of God upon and FOR YOU as the life calling word “let there be light” calling into being faith itself - from the real thrust of both the OT and NT passages being shown here to “faith” itself and the EE’s confession itself, and we are to supposedly believe this is why the EE greatly rejoices. Thus, not reading the scriptures knowing, “…but these continually testify to Me (Jesus)” the OT passage is locked and blackened out for what it is and the Gospel obscured because the EE nor his profession of faith is NOT the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, by this believers only understanding the EE does not rejoice because God worked ENTIRELY upon him FOR HIM, including baptism, but supposedly because he intellectually was made to understand it and affirmed his faith by confessing it.

Which is truly preaching Christ? God sprinkling/baptizing Gentiles as He prophesied He would for the surety of the truth of His Word/promise to do so. GOD not man doing the baptizing (sprinkling here) with very real otherwise ordinary water into His name by the hands of the pastor who is a mere instrument or ink pen for baptismal ink (water). God taking this “pen” and writing His name, Gospel and promise upon YOUR OWN BODY and primarily writing upon you the name of “Jesus” which means “He will save His people from their sins” and this water does and WILL bear open witness of God’s will toward and FOR you in Jesus and thus faith is created and sustained and strengthened. OR is this “really” preaching Christ: That what we are led to believe that is primary here is that they “went down and came up” proving immersion and that the profession of the EE’s faith is the Gospel. Is “going down and coming up” Gospel? Is any man’s own confession/profession of the faith Gospel? No! Thus, Jesus words are vicariously true, “you search the scriptures and think that by them you have life, BUT, BUT (emphasis added) it are these that continually bear witness/testimony to ME (Who IS life)”. Or as Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”, NOT “I show you the way, the truth and the life”.



Would you agree that the emotion of anger isn't necessarily sinful, but that the key is how we express it? The classic example of this is when Jesus cleared the money changers from the temple.


While anger is not sinful, it can lead to sin. While Jesus provides us with an example of righteous anger, we must be very careful since we care not sinless.

It is best to follow what Paul wrote in Eph 4:26-27 where we are not to let the sun go down while we are still angery. Anger can create a situation where we could sin.

J. K. Jones

I like Michael Scott Horton’s discussion of “golawspel.”

Site: http://www.whitehorseinn.org

Or: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/bio/michaelhorton.html

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