The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church
by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt
As C.S. Lewis put it, “. . . there are going to be a lot of surprises” at the eschaton. There are going to be people there that we just don’t imagine will be there (think of the non-Israelite that C.S. Lewis purposely put in heaven at the end (The Last Battle))! Boy, did that ever “get the goat” of some Christians! But read what Aslan said to him, “I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here?” And then tells him why. There are going to be in heaven believers in Jesus who never darkened the door of a church. (That’s no encouragement not to attend, not to be baptized, not to receive the Lord’s Supper. It is just saying that faith in Jesus saves — saves all by itself, “nude,” “apart from works.”) There are going to be scads of Roman Catholics, people who never listened – not really – to the theology preached by their priests, but just believed in the sufficiency of Jesus’ blood — no matter what their priest was preaching. People of all sorts who just believed in Jesus and His blood shed for them, for complete payment for their sin. There are going to be call girls, there are going to be drug dealers, maybe even a couple of lawyers! There are going to be members of the cults who never really “got” what the cult leaders taught, but just trusted that Jesus’ blood and cross was for their sin and for their hatred of God, for their wickedness. Surprises, lots of surprises. It bugs me to say it, but there might even be a couple of I.R.S. employees, maybe a congressman or congresswoman. (Everyone has some class of people they really don’t want to die as believers in Jesus! Those are mine!)
But, to put it closer to home, there might even be a theologian or two who believed in Jesus, “bet the blue chips” on the blood of Jesus and nothing else than, or in addition to, that blood. There might even be a despicable leftist socialist college professor or two! Academics who daily sold out the wonderful American Constitution and instead filled their students’ heads with statist drivel and mush. In heaven we will meet cowards, scum, “bottom-of-the-barrel”, reprehensibles, jerks, deadbeat dads, murderers, all sorts of rabble. And they died believing in Jesus and His blood as their only hope.
Ask yourself: Is sola fide true or is sola fide not true in the case of failing Christians?
Is Paul’s letter to the Galatians true or no? And if Galatians is true (and it most certainly is, but an apologia for that is not our subject tonight!), can a failing Christian be saved simply by the cross and blood of Christ? Or can he or she not be so saved just by Christ’s shed blood alone? If you answer, “Yes, he or she can,” well, that’s the message that’s gotten lost on most “jack Christians” — at least the ones I’ve met.
Many times the law has already done its work on them.
Boy, has it ever done its work on them! They need more law like they need a hole in the head. The law was (is?) killing them. True, Paul says, the law kills. He writes as if that is what the law is for. The law is designed to crush, to crush human pride and supposed self-sufficiency toward God. It is intended to kill, designed to kill. The Biblical connection is law/sin. What gives sin its power is the law. And moreso, the law is designed to make the problem worse! It is to be gasoline on an already blazing fire! (Want to have sin run out of control? Go to a church in which the law is preached, then the law is preached again and more stringently and deeply, and then the law is preached even more!)
Think of John Lithgow’s portrayal years ago of a law-preaching pastor in the film “Footloose.” Didn’t you just cringe? I mean even if you’re a Southern Baptist, you had to cringe at that character. Drawing the Christian “line in the sand” at the possibility of a high school dance? Lithgow could not listen to his daughter even if hearing her would have instantly resulted in world peace! Man, was he righteous! In “Footloose,” Lithgow’s wife should have been the pastor!
[Don’t quote me! I could be thrown out of the Missouri Synod for even joking about such a thing! You Missouri Lutherans, that’s a joke! Chill out! Or, as Phil Hendry says in his radio ad, “It wouldn’t hurt you to laugh!” You non-Lutherans, all of this is an “inside joke.” Ask your Lutheran friends later why that’s a joke in our circles.]
My point is that the whole film “Footloose” was “Jesusless” — no cross, no atonement, nothing of Christianity, really. Same as “Chariots of Fire” — completely Christless, completely Gospel-less!
Back to the point, for many of the “jack Christians” we’ve met, the law is all their ears ever heard! For them, the Gospel often got lost in a whole bunch of “Christian life preaching.” And it “did them in.” So they left. And down deep there is a sadness in such people that defies description. If you and I don’t understand that, we should! They were crestfallen. So great their hopes, so devastating the failure.
C.F.W. Walther said that as soon as the law has done its crushing work, the Gospel is to be instantly preached or said to such a man or woman — instantly!
Walther said that in the very moment that the pastor senses that the law has done its killing work, he is to placard Christ and His cross and blood to the trembling, the despairing, the broken.
- “Be of good cheer, my son. Your sins are forgiven.”
- “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
- “Fear not, little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
- “Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden. Take My yoke upon you, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
- “And He, when He comes, will neither break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoldering wick.”
- “When You return, remember me.” “I tell you, this day you shall be with Me in paradise.”
- “It is finished!”
- “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us . . .”
- “. . . He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree . . .”
- “God made Him to be sin who Himself knew no sin . . .”
- “. . . for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
- “For by grace you are saved, through faith, and that [faith in Jesus is] not of yourselves, but it is a gift of God, lest any man should boast.”
- “And to the man who does not work but trusts the One who justifies the wicked, his faith is counted as if it were righteousness.”
- “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith, apart from works of the law.”
- “. . . knowing a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.”
- “But now a righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, . . . the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
- “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- “There is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
The Home of the Lecture and Permissions Can be Found at 1517 The Legacy Project
Citation link to White Horse Inn, Inc. blog mentioned above where I obtained the transcript and other media for Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon “The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church” – Dad Rod Thursdays – The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church