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We seek to please God, not men

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men?

For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

Our Lord Jesus says to his disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (John 15:18-21).

Those who seek to please Christ are those who seek to abide by His Word and remain in it, regardless of the cost involved (John 8:31-32).  Such cost may include the loss of friends, family members, or job.  The hatred of the world may include isolation and persecution.  Collectively, also, for Christ’s Church, for His people gathered around Word and Sacrament, such hatred of the world may present itself in the refusal to hear the Word of God preached by the pastor, the denial of Christ’s absolution, the promotion of schism contrary to the true doctrine, the despising of God’s Means of Grace, and the desire to change the worship service from being that which God works through to deliver His blessed gifts of life and salvation in the hearing of His Word and the distribution of Christ’s body and blood, to what we give to God, without first acknowledging the extent of our sin before Him.

Like the Pharisee, we come to God’s house to tell God what we have done and how we have lived, and thus do we seek His favor based on our work and apart from His mercy in Jesus His beloved Son.  Contrast this pharisaical approach to God based on oneself with the manner that the tax collector approached God.  He could not even look up.  He did not claim any goodness of himself, but simply confessed what was right and true.  He had nothing to give. He had nothing to offer to God-only his sin.  So he says, “God, be merciful to me the sinner!” (Luke 18:9-14, my translation: the definite article is in use here in the Greek text, v13).

This “poor miserable sinner” claimed no merit of his own.  He did not at all trust in himself.  Nor did he look to himself for any “spark of goodness” whereby he might gain God’s favor.  Instead, He trusted only in the mercy of God for help and salvation.  He came expecting to receive from God, not to give.  And Jesus says receive everything, this sinner did, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other” (Luke 18:14).

To be justified before God means nothing less than having peace with God (Romans 5:1ff), having your sins forgiven, being unconditionally in God’s favor, and having nothing but God’s compassion and kindness upon you.  On the other hand, to not be justified before God means nothing less than having God’s wrath and judgment upon you and to not at all have God’s favor towards you.

Only in Christ Jesus do you have such true and lasting peace with God!  This is the Christ who God reveals in His Holy Word.  And this is the Christ which God’s Holy Church proclaims and who God’s people unashamedly confess.  This, too, is the same Christ which the world hates, and for which God’s people joyfully suffer. But God’s people suffer for the sake of Christ and for the sake of His Name because He is their Savior, “for there is no other Name, under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  They know no other God, for there is no other God (1 Corinthians 8:6).  All others are nothing but false God’s, man-made, and of the devil (Revelation 9:20).

This is why the world hates Christ, His Church, and His people—they are of God, not of the devil, the world, or of sinful man.  They teach the way of God aright, neither compromising or weakening God’s message.  They boldly confess and unashamedly proclaim the way of God in truth.

God’s people come before God’s throne of grace, not giving to God, but seeking to receive from Him the mercy that God gives through faith in His Son (Hebrews 4:16).  And by God’s mercy, that have it!

This is indeed not a popular message, for many, even within the church, reject it.  But it is only Christ who gives life (John 6:63).  We are lost and condemned in our sin, with nothing to give to God.  But God covers such sinners with Christ’s righteousness (1 John 1:8-9), and we, now, live unto Him, rejoicing in His bountiful goodness and believing His unmerited and undeserved mercy on account of Jesus, His Son and our Savior.  Amen.

Luther

“We do not seek the favor of men by our teaching either, if we may be permitted to say this without boasting.  For we teach that all men are wicked; we done the free will of man, his natural powers, wisdom, righteousness, all self-invented religion, and whatever is best in the world.  In other words, we say that there is nothing in us that can deserve grace and the forgiveness of sins.  But we proclaim that we receive this grace solely and altogether by the free mercy of God and His works, universally condemning all men for their works (Ps. 19:1).  This is not preaching that gains favor from men and from the world.  For the world finds nothing more irritating and intolerable than hearing its wisdom, righteousness, religion, and power condemned.  To denounce these might and glorious gifts of the world is not to curry the world’s favor but to go out looking for and quickly to find, hatred and misfortune, as it is called.  For if we denounce men and all their efforts, it is inevitable that we quickly encounter bitter hatred, persecution, excommunication, condemnation, and execution” (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p.58).

Prayer: Dearest Jesus, preserve us, Your Holy people.  Keep us from compromising Your Holy doctrine or accommodating ourselves to the ways of the world for superficial peace in the world.  Give us strength to endure the temptations that befall us that we not forsake Your Word, but remain steadfastly in it and in the true faith for our salvation.  Amen.

“The Defender’s Guide for Life’s Toughest Questions”–some observations

The Defender’s Guide For Life’s Toughest Questions

(Ray Comfort)[1]

Some observations

Ray Comfort, in the preface of this book, writes, “Most of the questions and objections in this book come from those who call themselves ‘atheists.’  Many have placed their faith in erroneous information…and because of it have hardened themselves against God and Christianity (Romans 1).  They ask questions but don’t really want answers.  My hope is that you are open to reason, and that you will find that that the answers will give you another perspective” (7).

I agree with Comfort’s observation that many atheists have placed their faith in erroneous information.  The same, however, could be said of many groups, including some who call themselves Christians, for not all who call themselves Christians exclusively use the Bible as the “rule and norm” for faith and life.  Again, I agree that some atheists really don’t want answers, that is, the truth that the Bible provides.  Similarly, there are others who follow suite, not wanting the truth at all, but only evidence that seems to support their conclusions.   This applies not only to atheists, but to all people, including Christians as well.  None are immune to the deficiencies and limitations of human reason.  And none perfectly resist the temptation to defend only that which benefits oneself.

These are dangers for which all need to be aware—trusting erroneous information and not really wanting the truth.  These do not lead to honest and forthright investigation at all, but only intensify the divide between the two or more contrasting positions.   Incorrect information only leads further away from the truth and may further confuse the issues.  Not wanting the truth but only that which supports one’s own position really only demonstrates an unwillingness to consider the truth at all, not as anyone sees it, but as it is—the truth.

Such a comment certainly does assume that absolute truth does indeed exist.  However, truth exists, not because I or anyone else believes it to exist, but because truth is truth, regardless of my own presuppositions or assumptions.  In the words of Comfort, “unbelief or belief doesn’t negate reality” (p48).

John 3:16, for example, as all of Holy Scripture, is true, even if I don’t believe it.  Whether I believe or not doesn’t make something less true.  It only means that I don’t believe it.  I can believe that gravity doesn’t exist should I jump out of the plan while in the air, but that won’t at all change what is true, that gravity will result in my falling to the ground.

In the same way, the Bible is God’s Word and is therefore true, whether I believe it or not.  Only Christians take this truth seriously.  Others may joke about the Bible and act as if it means nothing at all, but their attitude does not change the true and faithful Word of God  (i.e. Psalm 119:89), nor what it is or what it says.

Comfort’s belief that the Bible is God’s inerrant Word is welcome and encouraging.  Christians can give reasonable explanations to the many questions and statements of the day as posed by atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and others.  They can do this, not only using their God given reasoning abilities, but Christians also and especially have the Word of God.  Christians can not only address faulty logic and false conclusions.  They can also say what God has said.

Should the “scientific evidence” seem to contradict the Word, Christians can rightly question the evidence and the assumptions held concerning the evidence, and therefore, get to the deeper conflict that the nonbeliever has with reference to sin and grace.

In five chapters, Comfort addresses these topics:

  1. Humanity: Rights and Suffering
  2. The Bible: Biblical and Theological Issues
  3. Science: Scientific Thought and Evolution
  4. Philosophy: Beliefs and Worldviews
  5. Religion: God and Atheism

Throughout these topics, Comfort often points to man’s inability to keep the law.  He exposes the error of false belief and seriousness of the human condition.  For the most part, Comfort does a fine job addressing many of the issues between the covers.

However, in certain responses, I believe that he could have answered more charitably.  In some places, he seems to write with a bit of sarcasm and/or what may sound as derision.  It seems to me that he does not entirely stick with the issues at hand.

Overall, I found this work to be of benefit for two primary reasons.  The first reason is that Comfort does present a number of arguments, comments, and questions by mostly nonChristians.  These are beneficial in that they present the Christian with a greater understanding of what is being said about Christianity and what Christians believe concerning matters of faith and life.  Secondly, Comfort can help Christians consider answers to the critics based on the Bible and sound reason.  Sound reason will not convert anyone, but it may give critics reason for considering their position.  God’s Word creates faith (Romans 10:17).  Man’s word does not.  Nevertheless, Christians are to use the gifts God has given them, in service to the Gospel, and directed by God’s Word.

Among the weaknesses of this work is the constant refrain of “if…then” statements.  Comfort is coming from a background that assumes sinners can “make a decision for Christ.”  This is what we call “Decision Theology,” and this book is loaded with phrases that place the burden of sinners in need of a Savior, not fully on Christ, but on themselves.  Comfort does indeed articulate the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins, but in many instances, this is not as clear as it could be.

Though Comfort does indeed call for the sinner to repent, and though he does speak about the depth of sin, he doesn’t seem to go far enough, for he at least implies that man can somehow “choose God,” even in his sinful condition.  The Bible, however, indicates that man is much more corrupt than this, and must be completely born again, something that Comfort doesn’t adequately address (i.e. Genesis 6:5, 21; Psalm 14:1-3; 19:12; 51:3-5; Matthew 15:18-20; John 1:12-13; 3:3, 5-6;  Romans 3:10-20; 5:6-11; 7:24-25; 10:4, 14-17; 14:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Galatians 2:20-21; Hebrews 11:6)

Because of Comfort’s inconsistency about the depth of human sin and man’s corruption, he is unable to fully declare God’s grace in Christ.  He doesn’t rightly distinguish Law and Gospel throughout.  He therefore also fails to consistently articulate man’s salvation by God’s grace through faith (salvation, God’s grace, and even faith) as pure gift (i.e. Ephesians 2:8-9).[2]

This doctrine, that sinful man is saved only God’s grace in Christ through faith, is known as the doctrine of justification.  This doctrine teaches that man can do nothing for his salvation, that God has done it all in Christ through His death on the cross.  Salvation and God’s grace, and even faith, are fully gifts of God (as is Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper).

The doctrine of justification is objective, sure, and certain.  Anything of man, even any decisions or choices he makes, is uncertain and doubtful, whereas the things of God give only confidence and certainty.

Unbelievers, including atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and any others, will not know such certainty or believe God’s grace apart from Jesus Christ.  They will not believe the forgiveness of sins without the Holy Spirit.  Christians can address the faulty and limited logic of the naysayers.  They can give rational arguments for their understanding of the evidences.  But only God, by means of His Word, creates faith to believe that Word, even that Word which is now flesh, Jesus the Christ.  It is this Word, also, that God calls His people to speak consistently and truthfully throughout, as in Jeremiah, “He who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully” (Jeremiah 23:28).


[1] Ray Comfort, The Defender’s Guide For Life’s Toughest Questions (Green Forest, AK: Master Books), 2011.

[2] Cleary absent from this book is any reference to baptismal regeneration.  Comfort often confuses Law and Gospel, too.

Already Clean…

“You are already clean because of the word

which I have spoken to you.”

John 15:3

“For above all one must take care that the heart is good, pure, and holy, as Ps. 51:10 states: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” It is as if he were saying that cleanness of the works of the body is nothing unless there first is cleanness of the heart. But this uncleanness of the heart is so deep that no human being is sufficiently aware of it, much less can purge it away by his own strength, as Jer. 17:9–10 says: “The heart of man is deceitful and inscrutable. Who will search it out? I the Lord search out the heart and the reins.” Therefore the heart becomes pure and good only through faith in Christ, as we read in Acts 15:9: “He made no distinction between us and them, but purified their hearts by faith.” For faith in the Word purifies, because just as the Word of God is completely pure and good, so it makes him who adheres to it pure and good like itself. Whatever it has and is able to do it shares with him who adheres to it and believes it. Ps. 19:7 says: “The Law of the Lord is unstained, changing the souls.” And Christ says in John 15:3: “You are clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you.” Thus also Ps. 51:4, in the Hebrew: “Against Thee alone have I sinned … so that Thou art justified in Thy sentence and blameless in Thy judgment.” He who believes in the Word of God is righteous, wise, true, good, etc. Thus, on the contrary, he who is separated from the Word of God or departs from it will necessarily remain in wickedness, in uncleanness, and in everything that is opposed to the Word of God. “He who trusts in his own mind is a fool” (Prov. 28:26), which is a statement against his own confidence. Therefore the apostle says in Titus 1:15: “To the impure nothing is pure, but their minds and consciences are corrupted.” This is what the apostle means here when he speaks of “falling away from the living God.” For one falls away from the living God when one falls away from His Word, which is alive and gives life to all things, yes, is God Himself. Therefore they die. He who does not believe is dead. But falling away comes about through unbelief. And thus it is clear what an “evil heart” of unbelief is. It is a heart in which nothing is good, but everything is evil, because it departs from everything that is good.” (LW 29: Lectures on Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews)

To God be the Glory

The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:14

In the Augsburg Confession, Article 2 (Original Sin), we confess:

 1 It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God.   2 Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.

Corresponding to this article of our confession is Article 18 (Freedom of the Will), where we also confess:

1 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. 2 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. 3 This is accomplished by the Holy Spirit, who is given through the Word of God, for Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:14, “Natural man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God.

4 In order that it may be evident that this teaching is no novelty, the clear words of Augustine on free will are here quoted from the third book of his Hypognosticon: ‘We concede that all men have a free will, for all have a natural, innate understanding and reason. However, this does not enable them to act in matters pertaining to God (such as loving God with their whole heart or fearing him), for it is only in the outward acts of this life that they have freedom to choose good or evil.     5 By good I mean what they are capable of by nature: whether or not to labor in the fields, whether or not to eat or drink or visit a friend, whether to dress or undress, whether to build a house, take a wife, engage in a trade, or do whatever else may be good and profitable. 6 None of these is or exists without God, but all things are from him and through him. 7 On the other hand, by his own choice man can also undertake evil, as when he wills to kneel before an idol, commit murder, etc.’

The teaching that sinful man has freedom to “choose” God or to “make a decision for Christ” apart from God’s gift of faith in Christ (and thus, being created anew, i.e. John 1:12-13; 1 John 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17) is not in accordance with Holy Scripture.    Sinful nature always wants its own way.  This is the way of the flesh (see Matthew 15:19-20; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-9).

The way of the spirit, however, desires the way of the Lord, which the Lord Himself makes known to us by means of His Word (see Romans 8:1-17; 10:17; Galatians 16-18, 22-26; Colossians 3:12-17).  Such desire of the spirit comes from a changed heart, produced by God’s work according to His Word and not without it or apart from it.  By means of Law and Gospel, God creates a people for Himself, people diligent to be about His Word, people believing it, and people who desire to live in accordance to it.  Such people do not create themselves, nor do they make the changes themselves (John 1:12-13; 3:5-8; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).  Rather, does God form and mold His people to be as He would have them, loving Him above all things, and loving one another (see Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:3-6; Romans 9:14-24)—by means of His Holy Word.

Instead of glorifying and praising man and what he does or accomplishes, the Christian confesses, praises, and glorifies God for what He does, even what God does through poor sinners like ourselves.

Thanks be to God for His goodness!  And thanks to be God that His will is not at all according to our nature!  Amen.

 

Luther

 

“Let us praise God the Father, therefore, and give Him thanks for His indescribable mercy, that when we were incapable of doing so by our own strength, He delivered us from the kingdom of the devil, in which we were captives, and did so by His own Son. And with Paul let us confess that all our works and righteousness, with all of which we could not make the devil stoop down one hairbreadth, are nothing but loss and refuse (Phil. 3:8). And let us tread underfoot and utterly abhor, as a polluted garment (Is. 64:6) and the deadly poison of the devil, all the power of free will, all the wisdom and righteousness of the world, all religious orders, all Masses, ceremonies, vows, fasts, hair shirts, and the like. On the other hand, let us praise and magnify the glory of Christ, who has delivered us by His death not only from this world but from this “evil world.”  (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p41-42).

Prayer: Father, I praise you for all your goodness to me.  I am humbled by all that you do for my good, even as I do not see it or fail to see it because I am a sinner who looks to my own ways and seeks my own glory.  Forgive me for abiding by my own expectations.  Shape me, form me, and mold me to be nothing but Your humble and lowly servant.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.

 

Christ is No New Lawgiver

The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10

Christ is no new lawgiver.  The Bible is more than just a book of do’s and don’ts.  It is the precious book of salvation, as is Christ the precious Savior of the sinner.

Though Jesus does indeed accuse, convict, and condemn by the Law, so much more does He acquit, forgive, and save by means of the Gospel.  He speaks words of sins forgiven to those who are troubled and laid low by what they have done, what they think, and by their own sinful wants and desires.

Come seeking Christ to be a judge of your sin, and so shall He be.  The Law of God is too firm to be shaken, too fixed to be flexible, and too solid to be moved.  You can’t undo what undoable.  You can’t avoid what is unavoidable.  The only thing you can do before the Law is plead for God to be merciful.

Should you not see yourself as God sees you, then you will fail to see your absolute dependence on God’s mercy in Christ.  Should you not see yourself as God sees you according to His Law (The Ten Commandments), then you will surely not see your dire need for Jesus to be your Savior, and you will reject God’s abundant love towards you.

On the other hand, should you see yourself as God sees you, you will thus see yourself rightly.  And listening to His Word, you will know how utterly lost your situation is of yourself.  Nothing you do can change how God sees you.  Nothing you change can alter your standing before God.  If it were up to you, all would truly be lost!

Yet by God’s mercy, your standing before God is not up to you.  By God’s mercy, how God sees you is not up to you.

Reject Christ and His Word and before God, there is only that accusing, convicting, and condemning Word of Law which will ring in your ears.  But hear Christ and His blessed Word of forgiveness, life, and salvation, and there is only that acquitting, forgiving, and saving Word of the Gospel.

By God’s mercy your standing before God remains upon Christ.  By God’s mercy, how God sees you is how God the Father sees His Son.  Now, the Father’s words of His Son are also the Father’s words on you, “This is my son, in whom I am pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

In Christ, then, the Father finds you and saves you.  In Christ, no longer are you lost, but found.  And in Christ, your salvation is sure.

Luther

“If Christ gave Himself into death for our sins, then undoubtedly He is not a tormentor. He is not One who will cast clown the troubled, but One who will raise up the fallen and bring propitiation and consolation to the terrified. Otherwise Paul would be lying when he says “who gave Himself for our sins.” If I define Christ this way, I define Him correctly, grasp the authentic Christ, and truly make Him my own. I avoid all speculations about the Divine Majesty and take my stand in the humanity of Christ. There is no fear here; there is sheer sweetness, joy, and the like. This kindles a light that shows me the true knowledge of God, of myself, of all creatures, and of all the wickedness of the kingdom of the devil.”  (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p39).

Prayer: Lord, help me to remain ever closer to Jesus, believing His precious promise of forgiveness to me a sinner.  Help me not falter in my faith, but all the more to seek Your abundant help in Christ my Savior.  Amen.

I have sinned against You

I said, “LORD, be merciful to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”

Psalm 41:4

The Psalmist speaks what is true.  David, when confronted with his sin of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11-12) likewise spoke when he said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13; see also Psalm 51:4).

It is the humble of heart that trembles at the Lord’s word and acknowledges that any goodness and righteousness does not at all belong to self.  This is not an easy word to swallow, as all of us have the innate tendency to justify ourselves, even against God Himself.  To not do so is to go against our human nature.

Yet this is exactly what Christians do.  They struggle with their sinful flesh, with the world, and with Satan himself.  They despair of themselves, however weakly, and look to Another for help.

Again, the Psalmist cries out, “Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless” (Psalm 108:12).  There is none other that can deliver but the Lord.

We, however, want the quick fix, the immediate “recovery,” the cessation of struggle, and the trials to end, esp. with ourselves.  We devise ways of helping ourselves to ease the pain.  We try to escape, if even for a bit, from the cold hard reality in which we live (i.e. movies, books, food, etc.).  We deny that we are that bad off or that there is nothing that we can do.  Yet deliverance does not come by avoiding the truth, but facing it—head on.

Yes, it is true, our words and our actions, our silence and our inactions, these demonstrate our disobedience to the God of gods and Lord of Lords (Deuteronomy 10:17).  Out of our own hearts come “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).

It matters not if we consider our sins to be small or large.  Before God, sin is sin, regardless of our “interpretation” of them.  “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) the Bible says.  And “The Scripture has confined all under sin…” (Galatians 3:22).  Being confined under sin, whether thought of as large or small, or grand or minute, judgment is our lot before God.

But Scripture has confined all under sin “that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”  In other words, confined under our sin and not able to save ourselves, it is God who does the saving—through faith in Jesus Christ—of those who believe.  Thus is salvation of faith, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And what does this mean?  This means that yes, your sins are damnable before God.  But Jesus Christ bore your sins and became damnable before God for you.  This is nothing but Gospel.  And it shows God’s abounding love for you.  Because of Jesus, the Father’s condemnation has been placed on Jesus, no longer yours to bear.

Jesus’ death does indeed save you.  It also shows you the enormity of your sin.  But seeing your sin more clearly, as it is in truth, against God Almighty, you also see Christ more clearly.  Because of Jesus, you are no longer in your sin.  Because of Jesus, you have nothing but peace with God (Romans 5:1).  Thus do you, as God’s people, acknowledge the greatness of your sin before the Holy and sinless God, and rejoice in His abiding mercy unto you, for Christ’s sake.  Amen.

 Luther

 

“The main knowledge and true wisdom of Christians, then, is this: to regard as very serious and true these words of Paul, that Christ was given over to death, not for our righteousness or holiness but for our sins, which are real sins—great, many, in fact, infinite and invincible. Therefore you must not think of them as minor or suppose that your own works can remove them.  Nor must you despair on account of their gravity if you feel them oppressing you either in life or in death.  But you must learn from Paul here to believe that Christ was given, not for sham or counterfeit sins, nor yet for small sins, but for great and huge sins; not for one or two sins but for all sins; not for sins that have been overcome—for neither man nor angel is able to overcome even the tiniest sin—but for invincible sins. And unless you are part of the company of those who say “our sins,” that is, who have this doctrine of faith and who teach, hear, learn, love, and believe it, there is no salvation for you.”  (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p35).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for looking at and interpreting Your Holy Word through my eyes that I justify myself before You.  With the prophet, I also cry, “I am undone” (Isaiah 6:5).  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).  For Christ’s sake, grant me your unmerited forgiveness and help me to  hold on to nothing but Your righteous Word of deliverance.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

What does the Bible teach about love and tolerance?

 The Bible teaches that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son” (1 John 4:10; see also John 3:16; Romans 4:7-8; 5:8). God’s love extends to everyone, yet God’s love is not to be equated with tolerance as popularly defined today (i.e. acceptance of idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, false doctrine, etc.) God does indeed condemn all sin, but there is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 1:3-5), for Jesus came to save sinners by means of His death on the cross. Sinners who love the Lord seek to please God and not the world (Galatians 1:10; Colossians 3:22; 1 John 2:15; see John 14:21-24).

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