Are you scared of monsters? You should be! I don’t mean the monsters that come out of the closet or monsters that lurk in the dark. I’m talking about Monstrum incertitudinis which is Latin meaning “The Monster of Uncertainty” and it’s a phrase some of the old Latin theologians would sometimes use.

As the Lutheran Reformers were fighting for the truth of the Scriptures, they wanted to repeal all false teaching and practice. As they did this, it was obvious that all the doctrines and practices consistent with the Bible were doctrines and practices that served to comfort the soul and put a troubled conscience at rest. That’s an amazing thing, when you think about it. When God reveals Himself to you in His Word and through His Son, He is giving you certainty (not doubt) so that you would have comfort of the soul. One might object and say that certain parts of the Bible are pretty troubling to a person’s soul. That might be true of the Law—for the Law does reveal to us our sins, however, God reveals our sins to us in the Law for the purpose of bringing us to the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins. Every false doctrine and practice takes away from this certainty and comfort—that is to say that every false doctrine brings about doubt and therefore terror of conscience. Thus the monster of uncertainty veers his ugly head!

Let’s look at some examples of this. The medieval church had the teaching of “infused grace.” This is a very common belief among Christians today, but not under this term. The idea of infused grace said that God’s grace enables you to do good so that you can be saved. So, instead of man being saved on account of Christ’s work alone, the thought is that man cannot do good until God gives man the ability to do good. Then through becoming better you finally reach the level of being good enough to reach heaven. This denial of salvation through faith brings about the monster of uncertainty. If Christ does the work to get us to heaven, then we can know we are saved because Christ does all things well. But man never does things well (Is. 64:6, Rm 3:10-12). If God is expecting us to “get better” in order to be saved, do we ever really get good enough? Can man really do anything perfectly to the level of God’s expectations of thought, word and deed? If I believe Christ’s promise that His work merits my salvation then I rest in comfort—if I think I must perform in order to be saved, I’m left in doubt and uncertainty.

Another example might be the means of grace. This teaching found throughout the Scriptures is that God uses physical elements to deliver faith and forgiveness to us, but only in the elements He promises. So when Jesus says, “This is my body…this is my blood…given for you for the forgiveness of sins” He means what He says, that in the bread and the wine we receive His true body and blood and therein receive the forgiveness of our sins. Or like what He says about baptism in Acts 2 “Be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” and that means what it says, Baptism bestows forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. If you believe these things about baptism and the Lord’s Supper you will rest in the comfort of knowing you have the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus because you know you’ve been baptized and you know you’ve received the bread and wine of Christ’s body and blood.

However, there are many who deny God works through the means of grace. They say the Lord’s Supper is just symbolic and baptism is just your expression of faith. In denying these promises of God they are denying the comfort the Lord would give to a troubled conscience and what they are left with is doubt and uncertainty. If you do not have forgiveness of sins delivered to you through external means, what certainty could you have? The monster of uncertainty strikes again! You would always be stuck wondering, “Do I have the forgiveness of sins? I cannot be sure, I cannot be certain that it has actually been delivered to me.”

Jesus is for you. He’s gives you the Word to squash the monster of uncertainty and to give you certainty and comfort in the forgiveness of all of your sins!

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