Christian Literature: Searching for Liberty, Grace and Destiny

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I can't imagine why we would want to sin in heaven — we'll be perfect and the place we are will be perfect. But then I think of Adam and Eve before the fall — they were perfect, made in God's image, and they lived in a perfect place.

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Yet they had free will and sinned. There is no sin in heaven, because it is the place where the sinless God dwells. Those who have been cleansed in the blood of the Lamb have been cleansed forever. There is no more death in heaven, the result of sin. We die once and then the judgment.

Our death ends sin, the Scripture says. Just as the good angels are fixed in their sinless state now, so also we shall be. We will serve God forever willingly, but it will be impossible for us to will to sin as did our first parents. In heaven it will not be like in the beginning of our human history. Old things have passed away, the new has come Rev. There will be only life, eternal life, and where there is eternal life there is eternal sinlessness. Are we judged immediately and our soul sent to Heaven or Hell or what?

The departed souls remain in heaven or hell until the Day of Judgment, when they shall be reunited with their own bodies Matt. Therefore, "The Last Judgment is the grand finale of this present world, in which the sentence pronounced in death over the individual will be publicly confirmed and extended to the body, which till then has returned to the dust, from whence it came.

He who continues in the faith unto the end has nothing to fear for his soul after death or for his body and soul on the Day of Judgment Rev. Louis: Concordia, While I truly believe that Jesus died for our sins, those who accept Him as their personal Savior, I have been troubled as to where my sister and father are now. Are they asleep until the end of the world? Are their bodies asleep, but their souls with God? Or, are they in Heaven with God now? In the moment of death the souls of the believers enter the joy of heaven. Jesus said to the malefactor: "Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise" Luke Stephen said in the hour of death: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" Acts Whoever dies in the Lord is blessed "from henceforth" Rev.

Paul desires "to be with Christ," and adds that this is "far better" for him than to continue in the flesh Phil. For this reason we pray that finally, when our last hour has come, God would grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven. On the day of the final judgment, the redeemed souls in heaven will be reunited with their own now glorified bodies and will begin to enjoy the bliss of heaven in both body and soul John ; Phil.

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The Lutheran church has always rejected as unscriptural the idea that the soul "sleeps" between death and Judgment Day in such a way that it is not conscious of heavenly bliss. For this reason we pray that finally, when our last hour has come, God would grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven.

On the day of the final judgment, the redeemed souls in heaven will be reunited with their own now glorified bodies, and will begin to enjoy the bliss of heaven in both body and soul John ; Phil. I know the Word and the promises of the Gospel are our rock, but how do we distinguish between real faith and mere intellectual assent? I ask this because many evangelicals make me nervous when they say that if one has doubts about one's salvation, one is probably not saved because the Holy Spirit is supposed to provide inner assurance. I guess this ties in to the whole Pietist problem.

But in the face of emotional ups and downs, moral failings, intellectual doubts, and confusion over doctrine, how can one know if one truly has faith in Christ? Therefore, assurance of salvation is to be sought by looking to God's Word and promises in Christ which create and strengthen the faith through which one is saved , not by looking inward at the strength or weakness of one's own faith which creates either pride and false assurance or doubt and lack of assurance.

Anxiety regarding doubts, strength of faith and certainty of salvation are signs of faith however weak it may be , not signs of unbelief, since the unbeliever has no concern or anxiety about doubts, faith or salvation. If you would like to study this issue further, I would recommend Martin Chemnitz's book on Justification, available from Concordia Publishing House , stock no.

If God already predetermined who was saved, what is the point of witnessing? ANSWER: Let me first of all refer you to a couple of resources that set forth the position of the Synod on Election and objective or "universal" justification. From the standpoint of human reason, the scriptural teachings that God has objectively justified objective justification the whole world through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and wants all people to be saved through faith in Him subjective justification , and that He elected by grace from eternity those who are saved, cannot be resolved.

We must say with Paul when he contemplates the mystery of our election, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! And yet, we can say this on the basis of God's Word. By faith we hold that it is precisely because we Christians are God's elect that we proclaim the good news of salvation. We see this in Ephesians, where Paul begins by praising God for His election the purest of Gospel and only meant for our comfort; Eph.

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ This same Apostle, who regarded himself as among God's elect, wrote to the Corinthians, "For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! We witness, therefore, because God commands us to make known His saving will to others and because we are in fact part of God's elective plan being carried out in history Eph.

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How does this relate to being saved by grace? ANSWER: The statements of the Creed read as follows: "At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies and will give an account of their own works. And they that have done good will go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. It is important to note that the Athanasian Creed does not here say that certain people will "enter eternal life" because they "have done good. On Judgment Day, God will point to our good works not as the cause of our salvation but as the evidence of the faith through which we have been saved and which enabled us to do that which was well-pleasing in his sight.

There are numerous Bible passages that make the same point and use the same language e. The confession of these sentences in the Athanasian Creed in our churches is, in fact, a helpful reminder of the relation of faith and good works as taught in the Bible. In this connection you may wish to review the following comments on Rom.


Rather, he is discussing the principle of judgment according to deeds. Judgment will be rendered according to one's deeds in the sense that the good works of the believer give evidence that he has faith. Good works, which are seen, give evidence of faith, which is unseen. However, in your Theses on Justification on this website it says plainly that believers have eternal assurance paragraph Which is it?

ANSWER: Lutherans believe both are true and Scriptural: It is possible for a believer to fall from faith and lose salvation, and it is possible for a believer to have complete assurance of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. If this seems paradoxical to human reason, then Lutherans say this is only because the teaching of Scripture itself on this issue as on many other issues appears paradoxical to human reason.

For Lutherans, this is essentially a matter of properly distinguishing between Law and Gospel: Warnings against falling from faith are the strongest form of God's Law, intended to warn against "carnal security" based on "good works" or against the attitude that "since I'm saved, I can do anything I want to do. Assurances of God's constant and eternal love in Christ are the sweetest and purest form of Gospel, intended to comfort those who are plagued by their sins and by their failures to keep God's Law perfectly.

QUESTION: I am having some trouble coming to understanding of faith alone based off of the Scripture that was cited on your website, and I was hoping for further explanation regarding the seemingly conflicting messages. I think for me what is most problematic is actually Romans 2 — not listed as a reference but essential in understanding fully Romans 3 and 4. Romans 2 is based on the idea that to be truly Jewish is to be inwardly circumcised and not outwardly circumcised and inwardly something else. Then given Romans 3 and 4, is this necessarily an attack on good works as being a means for salvation or is this an attack on professing to be one thing and actually being another?

I was just wondering because of the obvious stark contrast to James As you no doubt are aware, the central and consistent teaching of Paul that we are justified by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ is nowhere more beautifully summarized than in Eph. By its very definition "grace" means that human works do not contribute in any way to a person's salvation or justification, as St. Paul says in Rom.

Or as the apostle had already said in , " Paul said this, of course, in the context of Jewish opinions regarding what was required for salvation. By making circumcision a necessary requirement for one to be saved See Acts ff. The faith of which Paul speaks, of course, is a living faith in Jesus Christ that produces, by God's Spirit, the good works that God wills be done in the Christian's life.

That is why, immediately after his beautiful summary of the Gospel in Eph. Of this living faith, Luther so eloquently said: "Oh faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, so that it is impossible for it not to be constantly doing what is good. Likewise, faith does not ask if good works are to be done, but before one can ask, faith has already done them and is constantly active" Formula of Concord, SD, IV, This is precisely what the entire book of James is all about. Genuine faith is a faith that shows itself in good works. Or as Luther again put it once, as an apple tree makes fruit and the fruit does not make an apple tree, so works do not make a Christian, but a Christian does good works.

Karl Rahner

Lueker, editor; Concordia Publishing House, contains the following helpful summary of the Lutheran understanding of what Scripture teaches regarding the freedom of the will:. The scriptural doctrine of the freedom of the human will is closely connected with the doctrine of original sin see Sin, Original.

The doctrine of the freedom of the human will after the fall of man must be studied from the viewpoint of original sin. Scripture emphatically declares that man, also after the fall, continues to be a responsible moral agent, who in earthly matters, to some extent, may exercise freedom of will; but it asserts that "natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, Accordingly, Scripture denies to man after the fall and before conversion freedom of will in spiritual matters, and Scripture asserts that conversion is accomplished entirely through the Holy Ghost by the Gospel.

God "hath saved us It is also taught among us that man possesses some measure of freedom of the will which enables him to live an outwardly honorable life and to make choices among the things that reason comprehends. But without the grace, help, and activity of the Holy Spirit man is not capable of making himself acceptable to God, of fearing God and believing in God with his whole heart, or of expelling inborn evil lusts from his heart.

Additional Scripture passages which may be helpful as you study and discuss this issue are: John ; ; Rom.

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The Bible does not say that there are those who are chosen and that there are those who are not.