My friend Jason Coyle reminded me in a recent comment of what he called ‘Dr. Rod Rosenbladt’s…brilliant address, “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church”’.
In this superb talk, Dr. Rosenbladt explains why so many people end up leaving our churches not just disillusioned, but angry. He goes on to present the undiluted Gospel as the antidote.
You can listen to (or watch) this address for free on Dr. Rosenbladt’s New Reformation Press website:
8 thoughts on “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church”
Thanks for the reminder, Daniel. I can’t recommend this highly enough, especially in conjunction with Rev Mueller’s article “The Gospel Assumed is the Gospel Denied” which is also available online for free. They highlight different ways in which we can be distracted from the Gospel, our only hope.
Hey, it’s me that should be thanking you 🙂 Good stuff. I’ll have a hunt for the other article you mentioned too.
Grace and peace in Christ Jesus!
Finally got a moment to listen to Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon. I agree that it is one of the best Gospel presentations I have ever heard and worth recommending for that reason alone. He addresses a problem that surely has faced the visible Church since it was brought into being. Dr. Rosenbladt raises many valid points, but my concern is the blurring of the line betweeen Justification (once and for all saved by Jesus and sealed with the Holy Spirit) and Sanctification (the grueling process of God disciplining and allowing this broken world and our sin to push us towards growing in Christ).
The result of being Justified will bring to light the life long process of Sanctification.
“Now little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” 1 John 2:28-29
Key word is practices. Obviously this can be twisted into a perversion such as Pharisees practicing legalism and works to be seen and applauded by men. The Lord is not looking for sacrifice and offerings, but us loving Him with clean hands and a pure heart so we can be instruments to do the will of God. (Psalm 40 illustrates).
“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12 * Interesting study on “work out your salvation” means like a field that needs to be dug and plowed for planting [think this is easy, see the movie “War Horse” and you’ll think othewise:]
What is the chief end of a Christian (according to Reformers) To Glorify God and enjoy Him forever!!!! I realize that there are people broken by the “visible church” that is clearly imperfect this side of heaven, but ultimately this is not about “them”. When we begin to grasp the loving nature of our heavenly Father and have a personal relationship and realize we can not breathe without Him, we naturally want and desire to please Him by being obediant to His Word. Will we EVER do it perfectly, Never! Which is why I love the hymn “Before The Throne Of God” “When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of my guilt within. Upward I look and see Him there who made an end of all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died. My sinful soul is counted free. For God the just is satisfied. To look on Him and pardon me.” There is not a day goes by that I don’t sing this to myself and Praise God for His tender mercies.
Only by His undeserved grace, charisse
Charisse, you’ve identified one of the conflict points that I’m seeing within the church right now: the role that man plays in sanctification. In the past few months I’ve seen more than one serious argument (and regrettably, a falling out between brothers and sisters in Christ) over this issue. I don’t have the time or resources to go into depth on this (it’s a major post on its own, if not a series; feel free to pick that up, Daniel), but at the risk of glossing over serious details, I’ll try to identify the major divisions as I see them.
Dr. Rosenbladt is a Lutheran, and the historical Lutheran position, as I understand it, is that both justification and sanctification are completely works of God. This doesn’t mean there aren’t good works; Lutherans have a vigorous doctrine of vocation and hold that God has appointed works for us to do. But it means that sanctification is really just an extension of justification, and both are completely infused with Christology. In Lutheran thinking, sanctification isn’t an end or a means to an end (whether that end is the sinless perfectionism of the Arminian or the glorification of God of the Calvinist), because in both of those cases, sanctification inevitably devolves into a quantifiable behavior of the believer, which produces moralism.
The clearest demonstration of this difference that I can think of is in discussions of assurance of salvation: “How can I know I’m saved?” I often hear those of a Reformed bent answer this with some sort of self examination, seeking to determine whether one is growing in holiness. The Arminian tends to point to the date one chose to accept Jesus as Savior. The Lutheran theologian sees either of these answers as making sanctification dependent, at least to some degree, on man’s works, and that is inconceivable. Frankly, I’ve spoken recently with several Reformed and Reformed Baptists, people whose thinking on other topics I respect even where I disagree, who explicitly state that justification is monergistic, but sanctification is synergistic.
The historical Lutheran answer would point the questioner to the means of grace (the Word and sacraments), and the promises God has made through them. In shorthand, it’s often put “Look to your baptism.” Man is “simul iustus et peccator,” at the same time saint and sinner, and always will be until glorification. Therefore, any good works cannot be assurance of faith, even to a believer. Instead, the Lutheran preaches the Gospel, trusting that will reform the believing sinner, but knowing it will never do so completely. Good works flow from the Gospel, not the Law, from resting in Christ and His work on the cross, not from trying to do better.
I don’t speak for Dr. Rosenbladt, but I’d guess he’d answer your criticism that he blurs the line between justification and sactification by saying you have created a line that doesn’t exist in Scripture. Full disclosure: I was raised Lutheran, and while I’m very sympathetic to much of Reformed theology and I struggle with parts of Lutheranism, this issue is one that I think Lutheranism gets “more right.”
I’ll close with a couple of caveats. First, I’ve spoken with Calvinistic Christians who would reject the idea of a synergistic sanctification; I’m not trying to paint everyone with the same doctrinal brush. Whether such a position is consistent with their professed theology is left as a future exercise. Second, my description of the Lutheran position is likely flawed; it is certainly superficial. I’d recommend digging into Lutheran writings if you have other questions. My only guidance would be to always seek to understand Lutheran theology in its own terms; this can be very difficult for someone coming from one of the (other) Protestant streams. Indeed, my frustration is generally that Lutherans tend to judge Calvinist doctrine based on Lutheranism and vice versa, and that leads to more heat than light in the discussion.
Jason, Charisse, thank you both for your continuing contributions here. I am reading everything you write with care and interest. I had initially responded in more detail here, but I have promoted my response into its own post: Some preliminary musings on sanctification.
Peace and grace.
Dear Daniel and Jason,
I so appreciate you taking to time to explain sanctification more thoroughly. It has become apparent how carefully this needs to be addressed. I definitely think that sanctification is all of God so I seem to be in agreement with the Lutheran’s, but as far as I am aware this would also be the position of most Reformed, mine specifically Presbyterian PCA. [Also, for full disclosure God has given me a love for His Word and a heart to want to read it and by His mercy and grace understand the deep Truths of Scripture. However, He has not given me any earthly credentials:]
I guess what I’m trying to articulate is the driving force in Scripture pushing us ever closer to the Lord. Paul stressing in Philippians 3:14 to “press on toward the goal for the prize”. We know it is the Holy Spirit driving it, but we still have to act on it by the Spirit of God within us. Scripture is always encouraging us stirring us to a greater zeal and love for our precious Redeemer. And Dr. Rosenbladt is absolutely dead on in his overall point that we continually need to be pointed to the Cross of Christ with the proper preaching of the Gospel. Amen.
I also see the danger of judging anothers behavior and questioning their salvation due to what we may perceive as their lack of fruit. By God’s grace I earnestly pray that He will spare me from this sin.(But, I do think it is necessary to contend for the faith and make a judgement when something is written that clearly goes against Scripture.) Our hearts are deceitfully wicked, so much so we can’t even fully know the depravity of our own heart let alone judge someone elses. And Scriptures says, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:15. So, there will be some who make it in by the skin of their teeth, so to speak, but is that the desired entry?
Hopefully, the brethren will encourage and exhort the sheep so that when our Savior appears “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'” Matthew 25:23 Just to get to see the One who bought me with His blood will be more than sufficient for me!
In gratitude of your love for the Lord and sharing your wisdom, charisse
Two additional thoughts.
I hope my initial comment did not come across as disrespectful to Dr. Rosenbladt, because that was not the intent.
Secondly, Dr. Rosenbladt brought up a very important problem in the church which is pietism. I agree with him. Infact, I would say it will probably soon be the lithmus test of Christianity. If Christianity continues to spiral into this super spirituality; ie: If you pray this way or fast like this etc. you WILL hear the very voice of God (therefore you must really be on the inner circle with God), we will end up in the pit of piety and it will become about our effort instead of Christ’s finished work on the Cross.
I don’t think your initial comment came across as at all disrespectful. All Christians should be testing what they hear being taught against the Scriptures, and you seemed to me to be doing just that 🙂
With regard to Pietism, I agree that this is a problem. In fact, legalism in all its forms. I wonder whether the people worried about antinomianism are in fact really reacting, not against those of us advocating more and clearer Gospel (along with a very clear preaching of the Law to show people their need for the Gospel!), but against the kind of ‘law-lite’ (that is, law that you think you can keep) offered by so much of contemporary evangelicalism? I think it’s possible that they have misidentified the proper target of their ire.
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