• May 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Apr    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • Audio Sermons & Devotions

  • Recent Posts

  • Post Categories

  • Fighting for the Faith

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 561 other followers

  • Blog Stats

    • 38,527 hits
  • Advertisements

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.

Advertisements

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).

Dove World Outreach and the Koran

It’s in the news that a group in Florida, Dove World Outreach, (But try to look at their site, http://www.doveworld.org.  When I just tried to access their page, it came up blank) is planning to burn the Koran on Sept 11.  A firestorm is ensuing.  Many are saying that this will create greater problems for our military in Iraq, Afghanistan and various other places.  This is a very real concern, and one that Dove World Outreach should strongly consider, for the sake of those who are serving this country.

In the midst of all this, at least in the media and among various ‘Christian’ groups (http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4628), a louder call for “tolerance” and “understanding” resounds all the more.  ‘Christians,’ Jews, and Muslims are ‘praying together’ about the conflict.  What’s lacking, however, is the truth of Islam (and the truth of Christianity).  Is Islam a peaceful religion, as so many presume?  Just observe the reaction of Muslims around the world to the planned burning of the Koran.  Reason will tell you if Islam is truly  peaceful or not (See http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/245877/burning-koran-nina-shea for some information about Law in Islamic countries).  One also notes that the Christians (and the Muslims and others) who join together in prayer and worship are truly demonstrating dishonesty with reference to the tenets of their respective faiths.  Of course, this further demonstrates how unchristian many ‘Christians’ and church bodies have become and how deceptive Satan is in destroying true unity among His people, basing that unity on tolerance and diversity rather than on the teachings/doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The people at Dove World Outreach may have a constitutional right to burn the Koran, but it is not in the best interest of our American neighbors who are on active duty, nor for our country.  Should the Koran be burned, this would demonstrates not only a lovelessness  and disrespect to the people which are Muslims, but also to our own people, and putting them in greater danger.  Respect is to be given to others, to be sure.  But for the Christian, respect does not imply acceptance.

The publicity is getting worldly attention, to be sure.  Rev. Jones believes that God is calling him to burn the Koran.  But what does Scripture say?  Nothing of the sort.  Rev. Jones, like so many who call themselves Christian today (including televangelists, preachers, etc.), claim a calling to do this or to do that, or to say this or to say that.  But they do so without Scriptural support.  They do so without God’s backing.  They truly are acting outside of Christianity without God’s authority, as are others who compromise the faith for acceptance in the world and a place among the nonbelievers.

Sadly, Rev. Jones’ action (even if he doesn’t burn the Koran) only feeds the flames against genuine Christianity (of which Jones is not), extremists as some call them, simply because they hold to the Bible and proclaim Jesus to be the only Savior.  Therefore does genuine (and not false) Christianity also teach that all other religious are rightly false, based on Holy Scripture and not because of ‘the voice of God in my head,’ majority, or any other rule.

This would be a good time for Christians to reflect on what God truly does say about Jesus in the Word and about other ‘religions,’ and to compare the Bible with the Koran, and how the Christian is to live in such a hostile world–by faith, holding to God’s promises and loving ALL people (which also means speaking the truth).

It’s also a time to reflect on the state of Christendom in America and the world.  Few are being true and honest to the Lord Christ, compromising the Lord’s teaching and forsaking His Word.  Repentance is in order.

Greater antagonism against the true Christian faith are we seeing, and greater acceptance of that which is not true.  Lord, have mercy.

Beck, the government, and the church

What role does church and government have together?  The ‘right’, it appears, says, “Much.” (http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/beck_wants_to_lead_but_will_evangelicals_follow/).  The left might say little (but for their ideologies and the like-separation of church and state; Christianity, however, is off-limits, but not Islam, Atheism, and other -isms).

But when we look at Scripture, we find that the government has one role, the church another.  The government is to establish external peace.  It does this by making and enforcing laws, punishing the evil-doer, etc. (Romans 13).  The government is not to meddle in the preaching and teaching of the church, regulating her in her doctrine.

The church, on the other hand, does not have the authority to use force.  She has the authority of the Word, to preach and to teach, for forgive sins and to retain sins (Matthew 18:18; John 20:23).

The following is from The Book of Concord, Tappert edition:

5 Our teachers assert that according to the Gospel the power of keys or the power of bishops is a power and command of God to preach the Gospel, to forgive and retain sins, and to administer and distribute the sacraments. 6 For Christ sent out the apostles with this command, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:21-23).

8 This power of keys or of bishops is used and exercised only by teaching and preaching the Word of God and by administering the sacraments (to many persons or to individuals, depending on one’s calling). In this way are imparted no bodily but eternal things and gifts, namely, eternal righteousness, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. 9 These gifts cannot be obtained except through the office of preaching and of administering the holy sacraments, for St. Paul says, “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith.”2 10 Inasmuch as the power of the church or of bishops bestows eternal gifts and is used and exercised only through the office of preaching, it does not interfere at all with government or temporal authority. 11 Temporal authority is concerned with matters altogether different from the Gospel. Temporal power does not protect the soul, but with the sword and physical penalties it protects body and goods from the power of others.

12 Therefore, the two authorities, the spiritual and the temporal, are not to be mingled or confused, for the spiritual power has its commission to preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments. 13 Hence it should not invade the function of the other, should not set up and depose kings, should not annul temporal laws or undermine obedience to government, should not make or prescribe to the temporal power laws concerning worldly matters. 14 Christ himself said, “My kingship is not of this world,”3 and again, 15 “Who made me a judge or divider over you?”4 16 Paul also wrote in Phil. 3:20, “Our commonwealth is in heaven,” 17 and in 2 Cor. 10:4, 5, “The weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God.”

18 Thus our teachers distinguish the two authorities and the functions of the two powers, directing that both be held in honor as the highest gifts of God on earth. (Augsburg Confession, XXVIII. The Power of Bishops, para. 5-18)

Christians and nonChristians can (and do) come together for policies and practices in  society.  This can and does include different religious groups.  But agreeing on governmental policy and the like is a far different cry from unity in teaching.  There might be some parallels between the Christian faith and others, but that’s also where the similarities end.  Only the Christian faith teaches the true and only way to eternal life—through Christ (John 14:6).  All others teach works and keeping the Law for salvation.

The Christian is to distinguish between truth and error.  The Christian is also to distinguish between the affairs of the church and the affairs of the state. The government and society are not the means for saving the world, nor the pulpit from which the church is to preach.  Nor is the church the means for electing one candidate or another.  She is to proclaim God’s Word, courageously and in truth (2 Timothy 4:2).  Where there is a mixing of Church and State, problems ensue.


2 Rom. 1:16.

3 John 18:38

4 Luke 12:14

Does Being Lutheran Still Matter?

In short, the answer is a resounding YES! Read the PDF to learn more. Confessional Lutheranism DOES mean something–more than something–confessional Lutherans confess Christ in their teaching (doctrine) and by their practice.

DoesBeingLutheranStillMatter.pdf

Should the mosque be built near ground zero?

The rage between whether or not to build the Islamic mosque near Ground Zero rages on,

but with little resolution in sight

(http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/fight_over_ny_mosque_becomes_a_partisan_wedge_issue/).  The issue is not so much about religious freedom, but rather of recognition of who did what and when.  It is a misuse of freedom to use one’s freedom to the hurt of another.  This truth the Bible teaches.  Abusing freedom is just what those who desire to either build the mosque or to allow it to be built are in the process of doing, to the hurt and consternation of many.

Definitions are important.

Freedom, as Paul writes about it, is not for the purpose of self-gain or self-appeasement at the expense of others.  Rather, true freedom, in Christ, knows nothing about self, only about serving others (Galatians 5:1, 13).  Of course, this kind of freedom, the kind that seeks only the good of others and is found only in Christ—this kind of freedom the disciples of Islam, and most Americans, know nothing about, for they have not faith in Him whom God sent to be the Savior from sin and everlasting condemnation.

Another definition needing clarification is ‘religious freedom.’  In this country, we have it.  In all countries where Islam is the presiding religion, there is none, except to abide by the laws of Islam, which is not freedom, but oppression, and where tyranny prevails.

Religious freedom means allowing for the establishment of any religion to exist, and its teachings and doctrine to be proclaimed, without silence, and apart from any coercion, but not with the government itself establishing it.

Religious freedom also means allowing religious debate (with words, not violence) to continue, in contrast to the attempt to consolidate all religions into one or to say that few differences exist, or to silence them all (i.e. communism).  There is only one way to heaven, and that way is through Christ—and Christ alone.

%d bloggers like this: