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One of the slogans of the Reformation was (and continues to be) “sola Scriptura.” Those Latin words mean “Scripture alone.” The idea behind that motto is that the Bible, the written word of God, may be relied upon as a sufficient guide and last word on truth More
It is quite evident that such subtleties have originated in the schools, not in the council of the Emperor. But although this sophistry can be very easily refuted; yet, in order that all decent folk may understand that we teach nothing absurd on this matter, we ask that the German Confession be examined first. More
Lutherans teach that original sin is actual sin, not merely the inclination to sin. The result is that we are naturally without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with all the lusts of this life. More
The Church in Rome believed the same thing about God's nature that Lutherans believed. Yet, as we shall soon see, there was much in the Lutheran Confession at Augsburg that they found disagreeable. More
The Church in Rome replied to the Lutheran's Augsburg Confession with what is called the Confutation. However, the Lutherans were not permitted to have a copy or to know what was contained therein, except that they agree to three things. More
We may go about living our lives with good, Christian courage, knowing that we belong to the Lord. He has prepared us for both life and death. More
What was in the beginning — even before the beginning — and where did it all come from is the subject of John's and Luther's writings today. More
God will repay the wicked for their persecution of Christians, and he will reward Christians, though not for the reasons many think. More
Do we believe the Word of God because of the revelation or because of its messenger, because it is God's Word or because of the preacher? More
We are not so pious as we imagine ourselves to be. Take care of your self-regard and pious pride, for the gospel grows in the pasture of confession. More
Jesus took on our nature so that, through faith in him, we may be given his nature, and be made right to be with him in eternity. More
The great joy of this day is that your Father has given the gift of his Son, along with the gifts of his Spirit and eternal life ... to you. His gift is for you. More
Jesus is the only one who can remove your sins, and make you right with the Father. Behold, the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world. More
Our lives, like John the Baptist's life and ministry, should direct our family, friends, and neighbors to Christ and his gospel. More
God's Word-angel made manifest the sin and religion that would hinder the coming grace of his Christ, the Messiah, the long-awaited one. More
Until the heart believes in God, it is not possible to rejoice in him. But for the believer, both rejoicing and peace are possible. More
It is not enough to put off the works of darkness; one must put on the armor of light. Without the light of faith, even works we think good are not. More
The gospel has not the least in common with the self-righteous. They want to become rich in works, but the gospel wills that they are to become poor. More
Christ is the Sun, the source of the spiritual day, from whom the gospel brightness shines throughout the world through the apostles' preaching. More
All is well because of the peace of the cross, the peace of God, the peace of conscience, Christian peace, is the work of God that gives eternal calm. More
Let no one decide that he will be utterly careless and rest upon God, making no effort, no exertion, not even resorting to prayer. Prayer is trust in God. More
To serve God is nothing else than to serve your neighbor in love, whether enemy or friend, or whether you can help in temporal or spiritual matters. More
The offense of doctrine may be the most beautiful religious ceremonies, the noblest works, so that only faith through the Spirit recognizes that it is all wrong. More
The coming of Christ will not be attended by drums and bugles and the like worldly pomp, but by spiritual power and grace. More
We are not waiting for a Messiah and Savior yet to come. We are waiting each Advent for the Messiah and Savior who has come and will come again. More
For the sake of gain, we rise from sleep and go to work. How much greater the need for us to awaken from our spiritual sleep, to engage the works of light. More
There is no one so prepared for the judgment day as he who fears God and longs to be without sin. What do you fear? You are well prepared for that day. More
If we are true Christians we will earnestly and heartily join in Christ's prayer, saying "Thy kingdom come." If we do not so pray, we are not yet true Christians. More
Let the unbeliever doubt and despise God’s signs and speak of them as simply natural; but let us hold fast to the Word that gives us sufficient warning. More
"People will eat and drink, buy and sell, marry and be given in marriage and wrap themselves up in this present life as if they expected to abide here forever." More
God sent his own Son into the world to do what humans cannot do by reason or religion. This is who we await in Advent, remembering again God's grace. More
We should not think of an earthly kingdom, nor of bodily salvation, but give attention to the promise of a spiritual kingdom and of a redemption. More
"The nature of faith is that it does not judge nor reason by what it sees, but by what it hears. It depends upon the Word alone and not on vision or sight." More
“Your King comes to you” does not mean that you find him, but that he seeks and finds you. Faith and works too, come from him, not from you. More
Faith brings and gives Christ to you with all his possessions. Love brings and gives you to your neighbor along with all of your possessions. More
At his coming, Christ will glorify our bodies until they correspond to his own immortal, glorious body, doing all this quite without the help of our works. More
Today's online Scripture jigsaw From the Word 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering — 6 since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, ... More
The last day will come and people will not expect it, even though that day is at the door. Told that these are signs of the last day, still they will not believe. More
We must know the meaning of Christ’s words: “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.” More
To overcome unrest, discontent, and disgust in one's self, a firm faith in God is necessary, for such a faith faith brings rest, contentment and peace. More
We think we are safe begin to drift when we should fear God, always being concerned for our spiritual condition, so that we pray, "Lord, increase our faith." More
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." More
May the Spirit of Christ move in you so that you might fear, love, and trust his Father and desire to stand before him in heaven in all his glorious majesty. More
The Holy Spirit moves the heart to begin again to love each day. Christ is full of grace and truth, and through him grace and truth grow in us. More
The gospel should not be preached in a corner, but before all people, whether or not we feel it effective, for it alone has the power to save. More
When tempted, a wise man is watchful, not relying on human knowledge, reason, or feelings, but he remembers God’s Word, and is guided thereby. More
The present time is unquestionably good and golden as long as the gospel of Jesus Christ is faithfully preached and received. More
It was no easy matter to believe that the whole human race was to perish, so the world judged Noah to be a dolt for believing such things and ridiculed him. More
Regarding our neighbor's condition as our own, we should take upon ourselves their burdens, sins, and imperfections, and bear with them and help them to reform. More
The world will not allow that it must stand before judgment, but rages against God. Let us take heed that the wrath of God may not also sweep us away. More
The righteousness of the law cannot provide confidence of mind. What does avail is God’s imputation of righteousness for Christ’s sake through faith. More
"There is a twofold reason for you to receive the Lord’s Supper. It means gratitude and praise for Christ, and grace and solace for yourself." More
The one who trusts in God will rejoice even if the whole world should burst upon his head. Such a person would stand unmoved amid the falling ruins. More
"We need to cling to God and pray: Merciful God, thou hast permitted me to become a Christian, help me to continue to be one and to increase daily in faith". More
If you would change the world, believe, preach, and live the gospel. This is how God has subdued the nations and you, through his Word. Go! More
The external word or preaching is a means through which we receive God's grace, the forgiveness of sins, and the righteousness of Christ. More
The entire Scriptures were written for our learning. All Christians should make daily use of this book filled with God's word through which they find comfort. More
Pure and strong faith requires one to cast away all feelings, understanding, and reason, to trust in Christ's word, be satisfied with it, and feel secure in it. More
So far as the Holy Supper is a confession before men, the communicant proclaims Christ and teaches faith in him, spreading the kingdom of Christ. More
God laughs at us, at our attempts to triumph through our works, our politics, our religion. He mocks these human attempts at overcoming the troubles of life. More
The sum of the matter is this, that those persons are saved who place their trust solely in God, not in their works, nor in any creature. More
Faith is the appropriate attire for the wedding of God and his Bride. No one will be admitted to the marriage feast unless they are clothed in Christ. More
True service of praise is not established with revenues, laws, and programs. The only true service we all can render him is to praise and to thank him. More
Do not be terrified of sin but call to mind your baptism. Comfort yourself that God covenanted to forgive your sins and not condemn you for Christ's sake. More
If I gave God all the good works I could, it would be of no use to him; He wants my whole heart; he wants me. This marriage union is accomplished by faith. More
We may keep ourselves from revenge by pitying those rushing to their own perdition. They do not in the least injure us, but horribly destroy themselves. More
God leads us, not in the way of sense or reason, but in the way of faith alone, even of that faith that sees in darkness and beholds things that are invisible. More
"Christ was both David’s true natural son, of his blood and flesh, and also David’s Lord, whom David himself must worship and hold as God." More
Christian unity resists sin and everything opposed to the religion of Christ, so the apostle enjoins us to be likeminded according to Christ Jesus. More
No sin is more abominable to human nature, and of none is human nature less tolerant than the sin of ingratitude, for returning love and friendship with hatred. More
"The devil takes no respite, but whenever the gospel is preached in its purity he mixes with the children of God and sows his tares." More
The unity of the Church does not consist in similarity of outward forms and customs but because it represents one plain, pure gospel doctrine. More
This earthly life is not for our own sake but instead, our lives and everything we do, must contribute to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ our Lord. More
The apostle implores God that they may increase and persevere in faith. Such is the great value he places upon possessing and holding fast God’s Word. More
Blessed are those persons who delight in God's Word, for they will prosper in the Lord's grace. Planted near this stream of truth, their spirits will grow in faith. More
The conscience knows its standing with God only through the merits of Christ Jesus. So long as we try to appease God, the conscience is troubled. More
It is dangerous to live heedlessly, for the devil is likely to take you by surprise. When you think you stand securely, he is ready to strike you down. More
"God has promised me through his Son, and confirmed it through my baptism, that he who hears and sees the Son shall be delivered from sin and death." More
"What Paul terms being enriched “in all utterance” ... is having the comfort of faith in Christ and of invocation and prayer ... the Word of God ... Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Commandments and the Creed." More
"Since Christians, by the grace and Spirit of God, are now renewed in this image of God, they are so to live that soul and spirit are righteous and pleasing to God through faith in Christ..." More
"True Christians so live that it is apparent from their lives that they keep God before their eyes and truly believe the gospel." More
We are sufficiently warned in the gospel to follow Christ, not the doctrines of men, so that no excuse will help us if we allow ourselves to be deceived. More
All Christians may equally call Christ “Lord.” One may be assured he serves Christ if he can call him “Lord,” for only by the Holy Spirit is he enabled to do so. More
There is no work or merit in the kingdom, but only the acknowledgment of all our misfortune, and the reception of the gospel upon which faith depends More
"We are not only to be with him, but we are also to come to a clear, bright view of his glory. Here upon earth we have it and recognize it only by faith." More
All who have been baptized and who believe in Christ have the authority and power to forgive sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. More
"Let us ... remain on the right road to the kingdom of Christ with the words of the gospel which comfort the conscience: Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven." More
"We have need of the law, that love may be manifested; but if it cannot be kept without injury to our neighbor, God wants us to suspend it." More
Service is displeasing to God when done without the command and word of God. First comes love, then follows the service that will be pleasing to God. More
The Christian life does not need much doctrine, nor many books. Indeed, the Christian life is wholly contained in faith and love. More
Faith is everything and saves us, and on this account we are not idle but labor much for the benefit of our neighbor, for we have enough in Christ. More
In the end, we will not see a single thing we would like to have. But faith is the principle by which we secure what we do not see. We must fully trust God... More
Paul urges us to hold steadily to what we have received by walking as he does; shaping their belief and conduct by the pattern we have received from him. More
Faith in Jesus Christ is nothing but real help and pure grace. God designs to have me as his child in Christ, placed above all things temporal and eternal. More
Let us guard against everything that makes for only a show, and not reject what does not make a display, so that we do not reject Christ and God. More
The witness of the Holy Spirit within you is the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word, a confirmation being that you have pleasure and delight in God’s Word. More
You have the power to speak the Word; whoever believes has forgiveness of sins. If they believe not, then what you speak avails nothing though it be God’s Word. More
God would not have us be overanxious for our life, but labor and commend our anxiety to him, so, he does not allow us to have another Lord besides himself. More
"The eternal Son of God was from the beginning with his church and with the people who received the promise of his coming in the form of man." More
The man who lies half dead, wounded and stripped of his clothing, is all mankind. The Samaritan is our Lord Jesus Christ Cling to him, your only help. More
We must lay hold of the gospel in such a way that we may stand and say: “Not because a certain one taught, do I believe ... the doctrine itself is right." More
The widow's misfortune is portrayed here so that we might learn that with God nothing is impossible, whether it be misfortune, calamity, anger, or whatever. More
Jesus freely gives me his life with all his works, so that I may appropriate them to myself as a possession that is my own but is bestowed upon me as a free gift. More
"Human nature alone will never be able to accomplish what God requires in this commandment, namely, that we surrender our will to the will of God..." More
The more misery and death are in us, the more richly we may find comfort and life in Christ Jesus, provided we hold fast to him by faith through his Word. More
What would all the riches and nobility of the world be compared with being named and chosen by God himself, called his son, the heir of exalted divine majesty? More
Christians need not waver, nor stake their affairs on that which is uncertain, vainly caring for the future, but at all times do that which is right. More
Do this for the honor of God and for your own benefit: strive after the great and eternal good. If you attain and keep this, the rest will surely take care of itself. More
The preaching of the precious gospel offers God’s grace and mercy in Christ, which is offered to condemned sinners without any merit of their own. More
if overcome by wrath and led to rashness, do not continue in it, do not harbor it, but subdue and restrain it, the sooner the better. More
To love God with all the mind is to cleave to him who is our chief good, to do nothing against his will, to take nothing except what is pleasing to God. More
If you would be freed from your sins, do not chastise yourself with them, but seize Christ, the one who has taken your sins upon himself. More
"Wherever God’s Word is preached, there is God’s own true house, there God most certainly dwells with his grace. Wherever his gospel is, there..." More
Love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. Through this craving some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. More
The lepers went boldly to meet Jesus, certain that he could heal them. Standing in firmness and sincerity against doubt, they confidently prayed. More
You need no longer be afraid of condemnation because of your unworthiness for you have the consolation of faith, the assurance of grace. More
Faith grows out of the Word of God, producing the good fruit of love and mercy and all manner of godly care for one's neighbor. More
"It assuages and comforts the sufferer beyond measure to know that he does not suffer alone, but with a great multitude." More
God has opened the treasures of his holy gospel to us, so we may learn his will. Will we believe and know peace or disbelieve and suffer wrath? More
"We should therefore despair of ourselves and pray to God for faith as the apostles did. When we have faith we need nothing more..." More
Once we have been baptized into Christ and believe, his will is that we should then live accordingly, obeying God and doing what is commanded. More
"Christ commands the disciples to set the loaves before the multitude, by which he shows that he will administer his work and gifts through the instrumentality of human agencies." More
What would it help the critics of Christ if the gospel was preached twice as clearly as it is? They are so deafened by their own conceits that they can hear nothing else. More
"When we come before God the Father, Christ will say: Father! Although they have not wholly fulfilled thy law, yet I have done so, let this be to their benefit because they believe in me." More
"Oh, how heavy and terrible the impending judgment for those who have denied to Christ the Lord, in his thirst, even the cup of cold water." More
Luther uses the this story to illustrate how office of ministry brings the Word to people so that they may hear and be given faith to believe. More
The Spirit impresses Christ and his works upon the heart, making it a true book which does not consist in tracing mere letters and words, but in true life and action. More
Good works do not make one pious or good. One must first be good and pious at heart. The tree must first be there to bear the fruit. More
So much of what false teachers' have afflicted the church with in recent decades is easily overcome by exercising judgment through the Word. More
No one thinks of saving for posterity, but live as if they rejoice in destroying everything at once. Yet in all this destruction God will nevertheless help us. More
"All who faithfully cling to the Word of God will be fed by God; for that is the nature and power of faith, which flows alone out of the Word of God." More
Our eternal life, attained through faith in Christ. will be to know God, delight in his wisdom, and enjoy the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. More
"The chief thing that should influence a Christian’s outward walk is the remembrance of his calling and appointment by God." More
"To be 'led by the Spirit of God' means to be given a heart which gladly hears God’s Word and believes that in Christ it has grace and the forgiveness of sins." More
"It is natural for us to feel hurt when suffering, injustice, and violence attack becomes necessary to check and restrain the feelings of anger..." More
"Not until Peter considered himself unworthy did he become really worthy. Just because you are a sinful person you must the more trust in God." More
"Christians must not seek their own, but look at all alike, whether friend or foe, as our heavenly Father does. Without such mercy, there is no true faith." More
"There is peace, strength and comfort in the heart, so that the heart cares for no evil, is really bolder and more joyful in its presence than in its absence." More
Noah kept his eye on the majesty of him who gave the command. That was enough for him, even though the command seemed absurd or impossible. More
God performs his miracles along the lines of natural law. Looking for bread from heaven, rather than by human means, tests God and is a sin. More
Christians have help and strength to resist and mortify sin. and must constantly put to death the flesh lest they be put to death by it. More
It is a glory that every preacher may be able to say with full confidence that he trusts God for teaching and preaching truly the Word of God. More
Christ keeps aloof from lazy, unfaithful idlers who will not do as they have been commanded, and will not keep their hands and feet from straying. More
Christ has not come to make you afraid, but to remove your sins and distress from you. “Fear not,” he speaks to your heart, and to the whole world. More
The curse of humanity is they shall never be satisfied and must endure heartache and everlasting destruction through the things they have coveted. More
If you only remain under Christ's protection and lie still upon his shoulders, you need not be troubled about sin, death, or hell, for he defends you. More
No life is so difficult as the life of faith, depending only upon the promises of God when the who world seems to say, "God has forgotten all about you." More
Scripture shows us that in God there are three persons — not three Gods or three kinds of divinity, but the same undivided, divine essence. More
We are to cover the shame of our neighbor with our own honor and piety, not cause wounds caused by gossip that we cannot heal. More
Luther writes that, "We should rebuke and deal with the sinner in earnest; yet we are not to despise but sincerely to love him." More
"The tongue of a minister — the language he employs — must be of that simplicity which preaches naught but Christ," and brings him the glory. More
We are not to be deceived by so-called ghosts, which are not souls but instead, demons bent on misdirecting a believer's focus on the living Christ. More
Even pious people can scarcely stand firm, often being entangled by gross sins and natural corruptions, for original sin is complete lawlessness. More
We teach all to trust in the grace of God, not in their own worthiness, and to render him gratitude for his grace. This is intolerable to the world. More
Although the Christians senses within himself the presence of evil thoughts and lusts, yet his faith and the Holy Spirit remind him of his baptism. More
God showers his gifts on an ungrateful world, whose people go about their lives as though sight and hearing were due them. And so, we miss God's grace. More
Christians do not follow pastors; they follow Christ Jesus. Pastors preach the gospel, a message that leads lost sheep to the one who saves them. More
Noah is called “just” because he first believed, then “perfect” (“upright”) because he walked in the fear of God and conscientiously avoided sins. More
The religious people were enemies of Christ because of the people Jesus called his friends: sinners who wanted to follow him. More
When one senses his wretchedness, then is the time to believe in Jesus Christ. There are no other means to save you, save be baptized and believe. More
"Christians have regard for God’s Word and believe that God cares for them. They commend all things to him and at his word go on with courage." More
"Reason argues: You have sinned, you must also atone for your sin. The gospel of Christ says: You have sinned, another must atone for you." More
We are in the golden age because we have the light of God’s Word and the sacraments are rightly administered in our churches. More
The service of righteousness in Christ has the double blessing of a clear conscience before God and the rich and incorruptible reward of eternal life. More
Faith is not an inactive and lifeless thing. When there is faith in the heart, its power will be manifested toward God and one's neighbor. More
It is by the power of the resurrection of Christ that Thomas, and us, who are so deep and obdurate in unbelief, are so suddenly changed. More
The most religious person will be lost and condemned if he will not believe. For there is no forgiveness of sins, nor salvation, if one does not believe. More
We make excuses, preferring many things against the gospel, for we are no better than were the ancient Jews, who also rejected the gospel for the law. More
Wherever the Word of God has a foothold, there the devil will be. He will always build his taverns and kitchens by the side of God’s house. More
Jesus sends every Christian to instruct and teach his neighbor, that he may also come to Christ, a power not reserved for popes, bishops, and pastors. More
"Poverty and suffering make no one acceptable to God; but if he is already acceptable to God, his poverty and suffering are precious in God’s eyes." More
This old man must be crucified, executed, put out of the way, even here in this life. Were he remains in his strength, faith and spirit cannot be. More
If you wish to proceed wisely and truly apprehend God, you can do no better than to be interested in his Word where he has revealed himself. More
The preaching of Christ feeds his guests through holy baptism, comforting and strengthening them through the Sacrament of his body and blood. More
Through baptism, Christ dedicates us to himself — he decides for us, elects us — and imparts to us the power of his death and resurrection. More
Before man may receive righteousness and eternal life, there must come One who has eternal righteousness and life, who appeases God’s wrath. More
We must abandon the life of the flesh and enter into new life, dead to the old. There must be a real change and an overthrow of nature and feeling. More
Knowing that you all embrace the one true God's Word, hold together in one faith and one mind, not disagreeing as though you had many gods. More
"In these words the soul finds a well prepared table, at which it satisfies all hunger; for it knows of a certainty that he who speaks cannot lie." More
Sin is not forgiven so that we may sin all the more, taking God's grace for granted and taking advantage, but so that conscience is free to love God. More
"Faith, if it is true faith, is of such a nature that it does not rely upon itself, but holds to Christ, and takes refuge under his righteousness." More
The preaching of the law shows us that our entire lives and characters, however holy and beautiful they may seem, are nothing before God. More
All people are in ancient Cain's very same condition, for unless our nature is helped by the Spirit of God, it cannot maintain itself. More
Because God has so richly shed upon us the gospel of light, we ought in honor and gratitude to him try to reform and temper ourselves. More
The two powers, God’s and Caesar’s, or spiritual and temporal kingdoms, must be kept apart, Christians especially rendering to each the honor due. More
Christ Jesus was buried that he might, through forgiveness, cover up, mortify, and destroy our sin, whether actually committed or inherent in us. More
God provides strong medicine to cure the sinful condition but this gives no license to make oneself ill so that more medicine may be received. More
You are blessed if your have heard and seen with your heart the Lord Jesus Christ, for there are those who have heard and seen without perception. More
Since man has fallen in sin, we all — the whole creation — must suffer the consequence and be subject to futility and vanity...and yet may have hope. More
Following Christ means that our whole life is a constant exercise of faith, whereby we are assured that we have favor with God because of him. More
My conscience must rest upon the foundation, the eternal, all-knowing truth that God alone is truth, and must rest upon him and nothing else. More
God never lays his hand upon us in order that we would be damned but pursues a course that leads us to repentance, so we would seek his grace. More
Man is made in God's image and God wills that we revere his image in our neighbor, doing all we can for him, protecting him and doing him good. More
In Cain, we see the hateful world, and on the other hand, that poor, abject Abel well represents the obscure little brotherhood: the Church of Christ. More
"All who preach the doctrines of men make man the light, lead men away from God to themselves, and set themselves up as the true Light." More
"Come what will, let us say: Here is God’s Word; that is my rock and anchor; to that I cling and that abides; and where that abides, there I abide also." More
Christians are to be confident of eternal glory, to implore the Lord God to hasten the Day, for Jesus has taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” More
We must be able to say that we know we have God’s pledge and the witness of the Holy Spirit, that he wants to be our Father through Christ, his Son. More
Experience teaches how difficult it is to keep Christ's Word, but the Christian will love Christ, his Word, and his kingdom more than all things of the earth. More
Today's online Scripture jigsaw From the Word Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:24, RSV From Luther This sentence of Adam is prophetic. For as yet there was no father or mother; nor consequently were there any children. Through the Holy Spirit Adam prophesies of that married life, which should be in the world, and predictively describes the ... More
One of the sweetest pleasures of Christian marriage is not sexual, that the blessing of the sense of completeness at being merely with one another. More
You may be a blessing to your neighbor because you know you are a child of God, received into his grace, and living in the sure hope of salvation. More
The whole creation cries out for a speedy end of these injustices and abuses of the ungodly, and for the dawning of glory for the children of God! More
If the affections and thoughts of men are without faith in God, they are without Christ and his Word, and therefore, they are without the truth. More
God would have us occupy this world as guests, striving after an eternal kingdom, abstaining from lusts, maintaining a godly life of good works. More
The affection of the intended husband toward his betrothed spouse is of a particular and elevated kind, a knowledge and revelation of the Holy Spirit. More
Christians should love and pray for the salvation of all, for the sanctification of God’s name, the coming of his kingdom, and the fulfilment of his will. More
Even in danger and death, you have a faithful Father and Savior, who has taken you into his own hand, and will preserve you. Journey on in joy. More
God’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous, looking upon you with gracious, winning eyes, his ears alert even to the faintest sound of prayer. More
One may confess Christ but still deny him in deeds and works, by insisting he is his own lord through his religious observances being the way to salvation. More
It is not enough that Christ be preached; the Word must be believed. So, God sends the Holy Spirit to impress the preaching upon the heart. More
It is impossible to love, where no faith exists, and impossible to believe, where there is no love. Love of neighbor depends upon the love of God. More
We are not condemned because we have great riches, but because we are attached to them and trust in them, instead of in Jesus Christ the Lord. More
God often lays hold upon leaders of sects who blaspheme with false doctrines, inflicting on them unusual punishments for the sake of warning others. More
As long as unity of faith and oneness of mind survive, the true Church of God abides, so we must be careful to cherish the virtue of harmony. More
An angry heart knows no moderation, fanning a tiny spark into a conflagration, retaliating and cursing, committing a greater wrong than suffered. More
The day will come when only righteousness and holiness shall dwell on the earth — none but godly, righteous souls — for we shall be like God. More
"What is temporal suffering, however protracted, contrasted with eternal life? It is not worthy to be called suffering or to be esteemed meritorious." More
It is not becoming of Christians to lead heathenish lives, as they have something nobler to do. They are to be occupied with the Word of God. More
Those who would follow their reason in the things dealt with in the article of the Trinity, will reject the Word, and be defeated in their "wisdom." More
The primitive church would assemble daily for prayer, morning and evening, and also at certain other appointed hours, and frequently entire nights. More
The Spirit, pouring into our hearts, makes us different beings, creatures who love and obey God. This is simply the manifestation of his work in the heart. More
The Holy Spirit has comes to enlighten your hearts, so that you will understand the truth, and will call to remembrance all things of Christ. More
May the Holy Spirit working through the Word convince you that the Father would have your heart free, at peace with him through faith in his Son. More
Church is where it happens. What happens there but God's Spirit working through the read and preached Word? We avoid the assembly at our peril. More
We are loved of God through Christ Jesus and enjoy his favor and grace, but also have the great promises of the Lord himself dwelling completely in us. More
Christ binds the church to his Word and dwells in the midst of those who gather for the teaching and preaching of it, and live under its rule. More
Do not judge things according to feelings but keep to the Word and the comfort of preaching which the Holy Spirit gives to distressed consciences. More
The office of the Holy Spirit is, namely, to invest the treasure — Christ and all he has, to enfold him in your heart so that Christ Jesus may be your own. More
The Church is not known by the name on the sign or external appearance but those who have real knowledge of Christ in his Word and promises. More
Why does God permit his own to suffer? In order to subdue the free will, that we should accustom ourselves to build alone upon Christ. More
"Take heed to accept in purity and to maintain with patience the Word so graciously and richly given you by God without effort or merit on your part." More
The Lord suffers a lifetime with us, giving us the opportunity to repent and believe in his Savior. But he will suffer no longer than a limited lifetime. More
May you hear the Word of God and believe because the Spirit has born witness with your spirit that this word comes from God, and is for you. More
May you know the will of the Father so that you may ask rightly in the Son's name, knowing that you receive for Christ's sake, not by your own merit. More
The gospel is a teaching that gives the world nothing but offense — a thing unworthy to be heard or tolerated because it is not worldly, but spiritual. More
The great and powerful work of all true Christians is, by God’s grace, to keep the faith so that they may have a clear conscience and peace before God. More
Those who would believe and preach the gospel, must cast aside all works supposed to make one just and holy , and allow nothing to remain but faith. More
Christ as a gift makes you a Christian and nourishes your faith, but Christ as an example moves your faith to do good works for your neighbor. More
In the gospel is an entirely different, a spiritual government, that exists alone in the Word, by which sinners are convicted and Christ proclaimed. More
Christ hung upon the cross that we might learn how deeply strength lies hidden under weakness, and learn to know his strength in our weakness. More
We are joint heirs with Christ by believing on the same Lord Jesus Christ alone and the promises of his word and the Father's grace are ours. More
Cling to the great and glorious gifts of the resurrection: the gospel, holy Baptism, the power of the Holy Spirit, and comfort in all adversity. More
When despairing, our works must immediately sink out of sight, leaving no help or victory except the faith that clings to the word of Christ the Lord. More
It is not for human beings to say what is right or wrong, whether an act or ruling is divine, for that is left to God alone who elects those who believe. More
Out of pure grace and mercy, God elects, as beneficiaries of his goodness, the poor, and wretched, and unworthy, who acknowledge themselves guilty. More
We are to remember the poor, as the apostles urged, but there is another poor Man whom the whole world would forget, while Christians remember. More
Christ's kingdom abounds in grace and mercy for he is a comforting, friendly shepherd, who tenderly invites, and all people to come to him. More
If you believe that Christ died to save you from all evil, and hold fast to that word, you will find it so certain and sure that no creature can overthrow it. More
Through Christ's death, you are redeemed from sin and death, raised to an imperishable life you cannot yet perceive in yourselves except through faith. More
We do not have to win any battles, but only to keep the victory that has already been won, by holding onto faith in Christ and his cross. More
To keep company with the "weak Christ" is the highest wisdom on earth, and a second is like it, to bear with his weak followers, the church. More
Unbelief is the greatest sin there is, for it cares not for God or at least, cares little for him who is to be loved with one's whole heart and entire being. More
The true church is not known by its government or its name but because it is known by its Shepherd and knows him, having faith in him alone. More
Scripture teaches that we cannot be saved by our own works, but through hearing and believing by the power of his Spirit that Jesus is the Christ . More
There is a great Day coming when we will be raised bodily from the dead, but in the meantime, we are being raised spiritually into a better existence. More
Christ cannot remain in death — although he may suffer death by reason of his human nature — yet he must of his own power rise from the dead. More
The world, seeing no wrong with itself, does not receive one part of Christ's word, reproval, and so, seeing no need of it, cannot receive his grace. More
Christ is the righteousness of Christians before God, going to the Father, that is, suffering and rising for us, and thereby reconciling us to the Father. More
The role of the pastor or shepherd is to feed the sheep, and to protect them from all evil, which begins and ends with proper feeding from the Word. More
Be careful that what you hear from the pulpit is the sure Word of God instead of those doctrines that suit a pastor's or denomination's agenda. More
We are not to trifle with the Scriptures, else there would then be no reliable and permanent foundation whereon the conscience may rely. More
Only devout, childlike people may grasp and understand the Bible, those who say by God's grace that because he has said it, then they do believe it. More
It is not enough to know the historical fact of Jesus, but to also know that he calls us dear brothers, infusing his own righteousness and glory into us who believe. More
It is comforting to hear Jesus tell us that his Father is also our Father, for as Jesus returns to him, we too, will one day ascend to our God in heaven. More
It is comforting to hear Jesus tell us that his Father is also our Father, for as Jesus returns to him, we too, will one day ascend to our God in heaven. More
Christ lay in the tomb for a part of three days, rising on the third, but what we should note is not so much the number but the fact that he truly died. More
Jesus calls us his brothers, not because of anything we have done to merit this inclusion in his family, but because we believe on him for salvation. More
God's Word and works in the Sacraments are not idle, but instead set people free from sin, death, the devil, and every sort of fear. More
You may be a birthright Jew, or a birthright Quaker, but without being born again, a salvation through the Word of Christ, there can be no salvation. More
When we receive Holy Communion, we should be careful to increase love, to find our neighbor who is in need and reach out to him in Christ's name. More
If you would be a Christian, then you must not be terribly alarmed or impatient at the the torments of the world and of the devil. More
We have the clear Word of God as testimony for us who believe, that Christ gave himself as a grace to be received in the bread and wine of his table. More
May you be a fresh lump with whom Christ Jesus being worked in, that the grace and power of the Spirit may continue to work out your salvation. More
The one who desires Holy Communion should receive all of it, not the bread alone but the cup of the New Covenant in Christ's blood as well. More
"The baptized Christian is born a citizen of heaven through baptism. We should be mindful of this fact and walk here as if native there." More
We may know the Lord's presence everywhere through the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the blessed Sacraments. More
May you have faith in God, believing the unbelievable, that sin and death are overcome for you, not because you earned it, but for Christ's sake. More
We aim to believe in what is written in the words of Scripture, so that we may have a faith like Enoch, faith in the God who takes up his people to himself. More
We are left to believe the Word, the word of Christ, and his works that follow after us. not in our own works, but by faith in the word of the cross. More
The Christian life is not a matter of outward appearance but of living by the Word and through faith in and under the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord. More
The church is sent into the whole world to proclaim the good news that people are saved from their sins, not by their deeds, but by Christ alone. More
God demands admission or confession of sin, and that people everywhere repent of their sins, turning away from self to God through his Savior. More
When anxiety, distress, or other trials come your way, hold fast to the Word, keep the faith, you will see Christ clearly there, and he will again bring you joy. More
We confess that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. More
The old saying that confession is good for the soul is not sufficiently correct; it is the absolute forgiveness of sins that is good for the souls of sinners. More
One finds in Jesus strength and comfort against all vice and bad habits, as true Christians incorporate the life and name of Christ into their own lives. More
Do not try to work yourself up to a feeling of being forgiven and loved by God, but ask him for the faith to know Christ crucified, and the assurance of salvation. More
No one but Christ Jesus has suffered for the sins of others, yet his passion, his suffering and death, avail for the salvation of every sinner who believes on him. More
Whoever disregards the life of Christ on earth, wishing to find eternal life in some other way than he accomplished for us, fails to find salvation. More
In order to keep our focus on God, instead of on self, we are sometimes given a gift: an affliction of the flesh that makes us rely upon God. More
It is the sin of all who have ever lived — including you and me — that sent Christ Jesus to the cross to pay the ransom for of a whole world of sinners. More
Life is sometimes difficult, so we must hold firmly in faith to the word and promises of God in Jesus Christ found in the Scriptures, The Holy Bible. More
This is our hope — our only hope: Christ Jesus — that we might believe in him, and having such faith, come to see him on that great and glorious Day. More
Like children imitating their parents, we should imitate God, especially in doing good things for our neighbors so that the Father is glorified in us. More
We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things, trusting him through his Word, more than feelings, works, or even his good gifts. More
God will keep his promise that the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent, establishing Seth in that line that would herald the Savior. More
We are to turn the other cheek, trusting in God above all things — even government, even ourselves — that he will avenge wrongdoing. More
Lack of faith is what drives us East of Eden, away from the presence of God, the communion of saints, the church, Christ's kingdom, and eternal life. More
God may show mercy even to the unjust so that they may have time to repent and know the full and certain assurance of his love and care. More
Nothing would thwart God's plan, not even Adam's and Eve's disobedience — our our own. He has promised a Savior, and delivered on his promise. More
Be careful how you respond to God when he confronts you with your sins, especially when it involves your neighbor, or family, your closest neighbors. More
God has no desire to forget us and so, those who love the Lord will live on in his memory and in another, blessed life so that we may remain in his love. More
Whatever day it is, the promise of the gospel abounds for you, making it the acceptable day for your salvation. Believe! and it will be a brand new day. More
The office of the ministry will always be disgraced by some, as Christ Jesus himself was dishonored, simply because his Word is proclaimed as truth. More
The preacher must not present an obstacle to the Word that results from his life, and especially from his doctrine, so they refuse to believe because of him. More
We are weak in the flesh, yes, but this is all the more reason to strive for purity and to live in holiness since Christ Jesus has made us holy. More
Jesus Christ is the "strong man" who uses his gospel word to overpower the dumb, deaf, blind, and demon-possessed, converting where he wills. More
One needs more than purification of the body in order to be at peace with God. The conscience must be cleansed by faith in the shed blood of Jesus. More
Read the Bible on your own, for sure. But get yourself to church to hear the Word read and proclaimed among God's community. He speaks there. More
There should be a grateful and increasing degree of perfection in the doctrines we have received, perceiving our errors and striving to mend our ways. More
Everyone — even old Noah, your pastor, and your child — is a sinner who can do nothing without God's assistance. Admit it, and salvation begins. More
The wastelands of unclean spirits are nothing more than unbelieving hearts, Evil is anxious to return home, so keep believing and exercising your faith. More
The law condemns but the gospel takes away all despair, so that, even if one has only some crumbs of faith, she may believe and be a child of God. More
All works of love, then, must be directed, as commanded, to our needy neighbors. In these lowly ones we are to find, love, serve, and honor God. More
Be careful that you are not tempted to believe twisted Scriptures, especially when it concerns false promises for your soul. Christ alone is our Promise. More
We do not live by the nourishment of the body alone. We also need spiritual sustenance, or as Jesus says, "that word that proceeds from the mouth of God" More
What do you want Jesus to do for you? Heal some spiritual blindness? Increase your faith? Hear the gospel and receive God's grace? Ask and you shall receive. More
Jesus was able to be patient with his accusers and attackers because he did not entrust himself to their judgment but to him who judges justly. More
We should cheerfully suffer want and temptation for the service of God and the good of our neighbor, like Christ did for us. More
"Reason, flesh and blood, cannot understand, nor grasp that the Scriptures should say how the Son of man must be suffer for us." More
We are to owe no person anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law and commandments. More
If you do not love your neighbor, your conscience will condemn you. Without trust in a forgiving Father, you will be overwhelmed with guilt. More
The gifts of God are to be used in service of neighbor so that God receives the glory for our actions. This is accomplished when we serve with love. More
You just can't win sometimes. Trying to defend yourself does not work; you just get judged all the more. All you can do is entrust yourself to God. More
We are forgiven only if we continue in faith and are occupied with purging out the impurity that remains in us. Life is daily repentance and forgiveness: purging. More
Are you gracious or harsh and demanding of others? We must show mercy and grace to our neighbor, as we have been shown these by Christ. More
God can bring life and healing to the lives of others through your faith, as seen in biblical examples like the centurion who had faith for another. More
The reason Jesus came to earth was to do his Father's will, to die for a world's sin. It was his passion, his Plan A; there was no Plan B. More
All works are good, so long as they are done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for his glory, as directed by him rather than by one's own ability. More
Don't you love a good mystery, one told well and ends well? That is what Jesus came to proclaim, a mystery for the ages revealed for you. More
Peter's and Luther's doctrine of the priesthood of believers is central to Paul's teaching on honoring weaker members of the body of Christ. More
The gospel leaves us no room to doubt the Lord's favor, for the first and the last to believe his word will receive his eternal and generous salvation. More
When there is but infinite day, we will require faith no more, nor hope. Love is the permanent thing, and therefore, the greatest of the three that now abide. More
Come to Christ because you are a sinner, not because you think he must have someone as great and pious as you. Come with faith in him, not in yourself. More
A Christian does not live life aimlessly. This life is a race to the prize, eternal life in Jesus Christ, and so, must be run with passion and purpose. More
Seek! Search! Look everywhere else. But you will never find Christ Jesus anywhere else but in the holy Scripture. The Spirit will reveal himself there. More
Take the Word of God "as it stands," as it is written, and be transformed by the Holy Spirit who works through that very Word in all his people. More
A Christian glories in the things of which other men are ashamed — in the cross and in his sufferings. For the world will not long endure the Word. More
As much as you are able, live in peace with all; spend time with those of humble circumstance. Be a blessing to your neighbor. More
Marriage, because it is God's institution, will be a difficult work, as the flesh will resist and rebel, as it always does against doing God's will. More
Love desires the best for its neighbor, even when one's neighbor does not desire the best for you, so one must pray for them even when they are not neighborly. More
Jesus allowed for believers and unbelievers alike in the church, so that both might be spared, believers from violent uprooting, and unbelievers an opportunity to believe. More
Each Christian has been given a calling, and with that calling a particular gift or gifts to fulfill the calling. These do not make her better or happier than another. More
God permits us to fail in order to make us seek him in his Word. Do not despair when things do not go your way. God is calling you. More
Paul does not put much emphasis on foretelling the future, but on the explanation of the Scriptures, so that there may be faith in the gospel. More
May we be content with the gospel, with what is written, for it contains all that God wants us to know about himself, all that we need to know. More
Love is virtue pure and precious. It neither utters, nor thinks any evil of its neighbor. It rather covers sin; not one sin, nor two, but a “multitude of sins.” More
Our worship and good works are to be done for Christ's sake, not because we think that we earn salvation through our deeds or piety. More
Good and bad happens to bad and so-called good people alike. The difference is how one responds, and why, and from where their peace comes. More
Have we forgotten that in order to be saved, we must have faith in Christ, trusting in God above our own works of religious devotion? More
We must consider ourselves with sound and sober judgment, not thinking much of our piety. There is always room for improvement in the Christian life. More
Simeon was not impressed by appearances and so, could bless Christ Jesus. If appearances are our motivation, we will not bless Jesus. More
Christians are priests, each and every one of them, and as priests, are to offer acceptable sacrifices to God. That sacrifice is self for the honor God. More
We must have faith in the Word, not in what our senses tell us. Feelings are secondary (at least) and are to be subordinated to "what is written." More
Christians should not curse—in the sense of wishing evil in a person's life. However, Christians are to censure and reprove evil in the hope of good. More
God allows suffering to guard against presumption, as example to others to repent, and as preparation for finding Christ, and keeping him. More
The sacrifices of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the one sacrifice of Christ Jesus so that we may offering the living sacrifice of faith in everyday life. More
Having Christ's Spirit within us, we are to love our neighbors so fully through that it seems as though we are indebted to love our them. More
Love of neighbor does not justify us to God. Faith in God does however, compel us to love our neighbor, and this is evidence of faith, and love of God. More
The light exposes the darkness of human reason, doctrine, and works, and displays our need of the grace and glory of he who is Light from Light, true God from true God. More
The magi may not have known who the newborn king truly was, but you and I are called to attend to our vocations, then think only how we may know Christ. More
The gospel is not the light but the expression of that eternal Light that has risen upon us. Rise and shine in the light that has dawned upon you. More
No one comes to the Father or apprehends the promises of the gospel except through faith in Christ alone. Through Christ Jesus, we become children of the Father by God's grace. More
Your beliefs, especially doctrine about Christ, must come from the Scriptures. Rest your faith on Christ as found in the Word alone. More
Just as little as it lies in one’s power to be born and to receive natural existence, so little does it lie in his power to be without sin or to escape from it. He who created us must take it away. More
We have received a mark, the sign of God's hand upon us. We are sealed with God's promise of salvation and eternal life through baptism and faith. More
You will find the church wherever two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus, that is, with faith in him, teaching the gospel, and administering the sacraments. More
Many kinds of people are drawn to the Church, but not all are members of the Church. Some have an outward appearance of of belonging, yet that does not make them true members of the spiritual kingdom of Christ. More
Jesus was clear on this matter when he was brought before Pilate. His kingdom is not of this world. It is not temporal but instead, spiritual. More
As worshipers come forward for Holy Communion, many pause at the baptismal font, place their fingers in the water, and make the sign of the cross on their forehead. More
All those who by nature were born Jews, or Abraham’s seed, were given the law so that they might be an example to the nations of how God would have people live. More
The Body of Christ is not an organization that merely goes through the motions of ceremonies. The Church has gifts in the heart, namely, the Holy Spirit and faith. More
The “house of the righteous,” the church, is infiltrated by the wicked. Sometimes, they seem petty, though they are aggravating and ungodly. More
When we perceive the threat to the Church—a threat that exists both from within and without—we can be led to despair of her continued existence. More
We believe in the Church. This is the congregation of those who believe in Christ. They are spread throughout the ages—past, present, and future. More
So we must be careful to confess that sinful people, such as ourselves, become righteous and holy only through the grace of God. More
We deplore the condition of some church bodies, that they have abandoned the Word of God for culturally correct beliefs. Yet, we should not complain overly much. More
Some people attend church because they were raised to do so. They give no thought to faith; it is simply the right thing to do. More
Nearly 40 years ago, a half dozen people from a local cult attended my church, trying to get people to follow their false god. More
Jesus did not come into the world to teach sinners how to save themselves. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” More
Declaring that a Christian’s deeds are required for justification and salvation both denies Christ and leaves the believer in despair More
The disciples were in hiding, very likely imagining that they were next, that the authorities would come for them too. They had crucified the Lord; what would they do to his followers? More
Surely, it is thought, there must be something we must do. This is the seed of religion and heresy, for faith knows that we can do nothing. More
It is human nature to imagine that we can buy our way out of problems. The person caught speeding, therefore, pays the court to keep the offense off the books so that insurance rates will not increase More
Let us continue to keep Christ at the center of all things. The promised Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin from the lineage of kings, suffered, was crucified and buried for our sins. More
The ability to love God is not something that we are born with or that we can develop on our own with this fallen nature of ours. In order to love God, one must first be born again. More
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they valued their own traditions more than God’s commandments. We must be careful to evaluate those things that we believe and do. More
It is easy for us to confuse the plain sense of things. Sometimes we need someone to come in to our midst and cut to the chase. What is the point that underlies everything we do? More
Lift up the shield of faith in Christ every time the devil attacks. Do not trust your thinking and your doing. Trust Christ, who is your shield. More
Justification, righteousness, and salvation are not only received by faith, these things are preserved for us to the end of time. More
If we go to church, feed the hungry, and buy coats and mittens for the poor, but have no faith in the God who calls us to do such things, do those good works save? More
Jesus satisfied God’s requirement of keeping the law perfectly. Moreover, he paid the penalty for the sins of those who cannot keep the commandments. More
The living grace of God is Jesus Christ. There is no salvation available to us without this grace. There is no grace without Jesus Christ. More
We cannot reason our way to righteousness. Who has been able to say, “In this way, I shall be a good person” and been successful in the enterprise? More
There is a difference between justification and sanctification. Justification is that obedience to the gospel that hears and believes, that trusts God’s promise. More
Lasting peace with God comes through faith. Our deeds can make us feel good for a while but that feeling is not only false, it does not last. More
Yes, God wants our good works, but he earnestly desires our hearts. Works that are done with an unbelieving, faithless heart are not good works; they are hypocritical. More
We have received a mark, the sign of God's hand upon us. We are sealed with God's promise of salvation and eternal life through baptism and faith. More
Be careful that you do not expect God to favor you on the merits of your offerings or works or religious activity. God only has regard for such things when they are done with faith in him. More
Works must always flow from a heart of faith. Abraham did not make an offering of his only son, Isaac, as a mere work. Nor did he expect that God would honor the work itself. More
We must remain aware of a dangerous temptation as we try to keep the law. As we observe the law, we can be enticed to think too highly of ourselves. More
Do the things you are commanded and see if he will not pour out his blessings. But never expect him to justify you for the things you do. More
The issue here—and always—is Christ. Let us not think so much about rewards, but instead, about the reward. We must press on toward the real goal. More
We belong to Christ because of faith. This belonging means that we are his servants. So, we are to do his will and bidding. It also means... More
The Lord has fought the fight. He has gone before us and has won the long battle. He is with us and will never leave us or forsake us. More
Some orders of monks placed their hoods upon dead bodies, indicating that their good works were transferred to the account of the deceased. More
The opponents’ conclusions were that if one pays for his own reward, he can pay more than is due. Therefore, the credit must be transferable to others. More
There is nothing worthy of forgiveness and the resurrection of the body to everlasting life, save the work of Christ. Imagining otherwise does great damage to Scripture and to troubled hearts and minds. More
Eternal life is a reward from God that is based on something very important: his promise. It is not based upon how much work we have done. More
“Blessed are the poor,” Jesus says in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit." More
Faith is the means of justification, righteousness, and salvation. Only faith keeps our souls at peace before God. Our good deeds will never give us at rest. More
We are reborn with a purpose. But let us be clear; the purpose does not precede or cause rebirth. That purpose is the result of our being newly created. More
What will be the result in the future life for the way we have lived the present life? Left on our own, sin and death are terrifying. More
We should recognize in ourselves that we are disposed to fall back into old ways. But we should also consider that others are just like us. More
Good works are evidence that a person has been justified. For the Spirit who produces good works only indwells the justified. More
Why did the gentiles come to a state of righteousness when the Jews worked hard at it but never arrived? Why did the gentiles attain righteousness when they did not even try? More
What came first, the chicken or the egg? Some love to deliberate over such things; these questions wear out other people. More
The difference that precedes salvation is easy to determine. That distinguishing feature is trust in the one who saves. More
We are indentured servants, slaves to sin and death, and we can never earn our freedom. Either the master sets us free—and death and the devil are not going to do that—or someone pays our debt and sets free. More
The old nature believes that if one loves enough, is joyous all the time, at peace, patient and kind toward others, is good, faithful, and self-controlled, that person will have earned God’s grace. More
If a man was swimming in the ocean and began to drown, he would be quite correct to not trust his own efforts to save himself. But he would yell with his last breath to the lifeguard. More
There is faith and there is the fruit of faith. Faith ought to have results in this life, not just the result of an eternal life to come. More
God forgives us for the sake of his name. His reputation is at stake, so he will keep his promise. This is easy to understand. More
Behold, what importance some people place in their works. They value deeds so thoroughly that they distort the words of Christ. When he downplays works, they exalt them. More
When we think that we have earned God’s mercy and may therefore, demand it, we rob God of the glory that belongs to him alone. More
The First Commandment teaches us that God is faithful to deliver his people. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." More
Our sin leaves us indebted to God. This is why Jesus tells us to pray, “Forgive us our sins.” Matthew uses the word “debt," making it clear that we owe God for our moral failure. More
Pour some dirt into a cup of water and find out how many people will drink? Just so, we are not palatable; each person is just some good mixed in with the bad. More
We cannot make any offering for sin that produces mercy and forgiveness. Our virtue will not do it, nor will religious works, the right disposition, or remorse. More
Everybody sins. Anyone who claims otherwise, is kidding himself but God is not fooled. We were born into sin; it invades all of life. More
Some people have faith in their works. They believe that there are certain things they can do to earn God's grace. This imagined acquisition of grace is called condignity. More
The spirit is compelled to have faith in God but the flesh is weak. It is hard to stay awake and watchful against the accusations of the law. More
Those who consider themselves Christian would confess that Christ saves. But the later actions of some betray a different belief than what they confess. More
There is no good thing that we can do, or even a lifetime's collection of good works, that God would dignify as a righteousness worthy of eternal life. More
True faith in Christ is not shaken for long, since it remembers the source and object of its faith. Faith does not seek to appease an angry God. More
Faith is not a mere intellectual understanding of God. Many people believe there is a God but they neither know who he is nor put their trust in him. More
If you would be righteous, you must live by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). For if you imagine that you can be righteous by being virtuous and religious, then you are misguided by conceit. More
Hope believes even when the situation appears hopeless. Abraham was confronted with an utterly hopeless situation. More
If you are looking for something that you must do, some righteous work that gains eternal life, there is only one thing necessary. Believe in Christ Jesus. More
Jesus took our sin upon himself and died with it on the cross. When our sin was transferred to Christ, his righteousness was assigned to us through faith in him. More
We cannot reason our way to God or become justified before him because we have come to some intellectual understanding of divinity. More
Surveys are often filled out by a person who marks the box, “Christian.” Often what this means is that the person thinks there is a God. More
Christ came to the law keepers first, to show the truth of God’s promises. God fulfilled those promises in the Messiah by fulfilling the law for them, something which they could not accomplish. More
What a blessing it is to be assured of eternity. Jesus gave us this assurance when he said that whoever believes his word and in the one who sent him has eternal life. More
What a burden it is to fulfill the law on our own. Who can keep the law? Is there anyone who can satisfy the demands of the law? More
Sometimes, even the simplest things are spun into complexities, the clearest teaching of Christ turned to sophistry, the clarity of orthodoxy twisted to heresy. More
We are made children of God through his grace. We were not born to his house but have been reborn and adopted by his merciful will (Eph 1:5). Therefore we have hope. More
I never understood why the rules of baseball allow a pinch runner. A coach is allowed to substitute a faster runner and remove the slower runner from the game. That does not seem fair. More
Jesus warned keepers of the law that the wrath of God was coming (Matt 3:7). The Pharisees already did not like Jesus, and this did not make them any happier. More
“Look toward heaven.” When we look to ourselves, we tend to get in trouble. Initially, Abram believed God’s promise of a son. More
It is good to be reminded and to have the point driven home again and again. For we are easily led astray, imagining that we must do something to reconcile God, since we imagine he must be angry about our sins. More
We inherit the kingdom through faith, just as an orphan receives a new family. When a child is adopted, she must follow her new family through the orphanage doors. More
The word “atonement” translated in Romans 5:11 in the Geneva and King James versions is abandoned in subsequent New Testament translations... More
God wants us to live lives that reflect his own holiness and are in keeping with the regeneration that comes to us through faith. More
It is not the severity of our religious observances or the long list of our good works over a lifetime that makes us fit and worthy for the kingdom of God. More
The Scriptures are very clear. We believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ by the grace of God. We are God’s children because he has chosen us, not because we have chosen him. More
How may one know that they are forgiven of their sins, reborn, and are now children of God? Can this be determined because one has always lived correctly? More
We are to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt 3:8; Luke 3:8). Yet we do not pin our hope of salvation upon these works. More
All things are clean to you if you are clean within and without, bathed on the inside and the outside, washed in faith and in action. More
If you are not clean on the inside, your outside will never be clean, despite regular religious washings. These outward ceremonies do not cleanse the person who is unclean within. More
Common sense informs us that giving from the heart means one expects to gain nothing from the gift. When one gives from within... More
If we only read verse 8, we may end up believing good works are the point, that we must “be careful to devote [ourselves] to good works” (Titus 3:8). More
Our works are not good works—they do not please God—unless they are done in faith. They are not good works, no matter how fine they may seem to us... More
Because Christ is the once-for-all sacrifice for sin, those living under the New Covenant are to offer sacrifices of praise to God. More
The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners from the condemnation of sin and death. When people have faith in God’s sacrifice for their sin, they are saved, justified, and reborn. More
The great mystery of the ages has been revealed in Jesus Christ. All people—Jews and Gentiles alike—have been redeemed from their slavery to sin and death by the atoning work of Jesus. More
The promise of forgiveness is bound to repentance. They are inseparable. “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.” More
We should have no other gods before the Lord (Exod 20:3). He alone is God (Deut 6:4). We think that in the churches today, idols are a thing of the past. More
The rich man wanted to know what good deed he as yet lacked so that he could earn eternal life. Having boasted that he had kept all the commandments, he nonetheless felt that he still lacked some fine deed. More
The preaching of the law must have its rightful place among us. The law sets necessary boundaries in society so that we might enjoy a measure of order and civility in society. More
You may work all day and night, trying to prove yourself worthy to God, only to discover at the break of day that you do not believe he finds you worthy. More
Consider this teaching from the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive, and you will be forgiven. The first part in this doctrine demands amendment of life and good works, while the second part adds the promise. More
So let us reject the entire squabble as not only a misunderstanding of the text, but a mistranslation as well. May we understand the gospel instead, for there is nothing uncertain in Christ. More
Daniel does not simply demand certain kingly works such as alms giving. He demands faith by saying, “Break off your sins by righteousness.” More
Even the prophets of old required faith since they too conveyed the promises of God. Promises require faith because they involve trust in the one making the promise. More
The law is used by God to achieve certain results. It exhorts us to look out for “number two,” or to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). More
As the parable indicates, we are indebted to the King. Our sin-debt should cost us our lives (Rom 6:23) but God is merciful, forgiving us and making us into new persons. More
God commands us through the prophets to do good. Yet, through those same prophets, he makes it clear that our righteousness does not come from the works worked. More
The law must be preached. Yet, it must also be taught that the keeping of the law does not bring new birth. Only God can regenerate the dead, which we most certainly were. More
Those who have been justified through faith in Christ are expected to act righteously. They are not, however, forgiven of their sins because they act in accordance with God’s will. More
Any keeping of the law requires God’s help. Before we can ever keep the law in a way that God finds acceptable, we must have faith in Christ. More
Again, James is referring to those works that should follow faith. So, it is well said that the one who has faith and good works is righteous. Righteousness is not earned through the works... More
One cannot create faith by deciding to believe in the historical Jesus, but then, going on to live the same old, natural life. This is the sort of dead faith to which James refers. More
Every good gift comes from the Father—most notably, the gift of new birth in Christ. Salvation is a gift. Forgiveness of sins and justification are not things that can be earned. More
The old real estate expression, “Location, location, location,” might be modified when it comes to reading. “Context, context, context,” is crucial when interpreting a text. More
Propitiation means appeasement of God. The argument the Lutherans were making is simply this: Christ alone is the satisfaction for our sins. What God has worked into us, we are now to work out... More
James reinforces what kind of faith he has been referring to in this passage. Faith is not mere assent, such as you hear from people today when they say things like, “I believe in God,” or “I am a Christian,” or “I go to church.” More
Presidential pardons, bestowed by outgoing US presidents, are received with gratitude but also sometimes, with irritation by those who disagree with a president’s choices. More
Think of how often the smallest spark of some perceived offense in a congregation is fanned into flame by someone who chooses to make the matter personal. More
We must be careful not to build a doctrine of righteousness and salvation upon anything that we do. Such a house would surely fall, since it is founded on the limited and human instead of upon the infinite and divine. More
We should not worry ourselves over the actions of others toward us. Instead, we should be devoted to the gospel. This means that we will love those who hate and hurt us. More
God is able to do far more with the Church than we could possibly imagine (Eph 3:20). Knowing therefore, not only what God is capable of doing but is actually accomplishing in spite of us. More
During a committee meeting, a brother suddenly spoke strong words against his pastor. There was silence in the room. People did not know how to respond. More
Having understood that Christ alone is the satisfaction for our sins, we see love in a new light. “We love because he first loved us," not because we expect special favor from God. More
Paul consistently teaches that we are accepted on account of Christ and not on account of our love, or our works, or because we keep the law. For no one perfectly fulfills the law. More
The wisdom of the world concludes that effort makes the difference. So, some believe that human righteousness makes the difference with God. More
It makes sense that doing good deeds and being religious would cause God to love us and forgive us for our efforts. If God commands it, then there should be the reward of his favor. Yet, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.” More
God does not say, “Do this thing and you will be saved.” He could have said something like, “Do a cartwheel and you will be saved.” Of course, he said nothing so absurd... More
Yes! We should obey God by loving one another and doing acts of charity and other good works. Yet these actions will never conquer sin and death or provide access to God. More
Faith is not formed by love or other good works. That is backwards thinking and contrary to Scripture. Rather, love is formed by faith. Faith in Christ compels us to love and to obey God. More
The Roman Confutation claimed that people are justified by adding love and other works to faith in Christ. Conversely, the Lutherans confessed that love and good works are a necessary response to faith in the saving work of Christ. More
The assurance of God’s love for us is always disturbed by our works. As soon as we trust in an act of charity or devotion to God, our confidence is shattered by an unkind thought or lack of devotion. More
Polls differ as to how many Americans say that they believe in God, some as high as 80% or more. Other polls demonstrate that the most basic evidences of faith are a much lower percentage. So let us be clear. More
If you pay attention to the sports headlines, you will hear an odd assertion from time to time, especially during professional basketball season. A very talented player will either claim or a reporter will state that the athlete was a one-man team. More
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” (Matt 5:6) Note that Jesus did not say blessed are those who have dug a well and quenched their own thirst. More
Being a pastor or missionary is not a free ticket to heaven. While the work that such people do is important to the kingdom of Christ, it is only faith in Christ that opens the gates of heaven. More
But the Lutherans confessed that there was no grace to be derived from the work itself. Thus, the Lord’s Supper is not a work through which we receive forgiveness because we went through the motions. More
In the 1950s, the farmers and ranchers of a small town in southern Texas quit working. For one year, they all laid off work and built a brand new Lutheran Church. What a sacrifice! More
The working of the work does nothing to temper the Almighty. You could sacrifice a thousand burnt offerings and it would not pacify him. You could serve on every committee in your church and it would not justify you to God. More
God wants us to be confident of eternal life. He does not dangle salvation over our heads, tempting us and teasing us to work a little harder, or else. Instead, we are to believe in the great name of Jesus Christ, who died and rose and ascended so that we might do the same. More
So long as we think our relationship with God depends upon ourselves, it will also suffer. As long as we imagine that we make the difference with God, we will fail God... More
You were baptized before you ever thought to do a good deed. God put his seal on you first. So, baptism, like circumcision, is a sign that God gives Christ’s righteousness to sinners. More
Garry Trudeau produced a popular series of cartoons in the 70s called I Have No Son. The father in the series seemed to disown his son for being an embarrassment, someone who did not think or act at all the same as himself. More
That God rewards one’s labors is certain but what he rewards to “fellow workers,” and when, is unknown. What is very certain, however, is that all who believe in Christ... More
You may think that your little church does not contribute much to the kingdom. Never think that way. That is the same as saying that Christ does not contribute much to his own kingdom. More
You are not yet perfect. You are weak. The old nature still clings to you, thereby making your works, however well-intentioned, seem poorly executed and blemished. More
He has freely promised his merciful grace through Christ. The forgiveness of sins is certain because it depends upon the promise of God, not your deeds. More
There is nothing ambiguous about the distinction between the law and the gospel. The law requires one to keep its commandments, rules, and rituals. The gospel requires one to believe that Jesus has fulfilled the law. More
Most of us have been a part of group projects in school. Three or four people are assigned to a team to complete an assignment. Many times, one person does all the work while the entire group gets the credit. More
Peace is a profound need in our world that is torn apart by war and terrorism. There is also the lack of peace caused by bad economic conditions. Yet the lack of peace that is most dire is spiritual. More
You are not whole because you have filled yourself. If you believe in Christ, you are whole and filled in him, by him, because of him. So far, and as far as this life allows, you will never be whole as a result of your religious works and moral behavior. More
It will always be impossible in this life to do anything in an altogether pure manner. However unfulfilled our efforts seem to us, they are accepted by and pleasing to God if they are done with faith in Christ. More
We profess that the law ought to be kept. We also declare that it is kept because Christ has fulfilled it—we did not, nor can we. So we seek to please God by keeping his perfect law even though we keep it imperfectly. More
From the moment we are born again, the battle begins. We are always at war within ourselves. The flesh resists the Spirit who has moved into our lives. More
Imagine the poor apostle, wanting to be godly but failing at the task. The things he set out to do, he was not able to perform. Conversely, the very things he wished to avoid were what he kept on doing. More
When people hear the gospel and believe, God cleanses their hearts and gives them the Holy Spirit. If we add works and the keeping of the law to the simple requirement of faith in Christ, we test God by seeking to undo what he has accomplished through Christ Jesus. More
Original sin is a powerful thing; it holds humanity in its clutches with a grip so tight that no one can escape its deadly consequences. More
We are not only unable to keep the law, but if we trust our works as righteousness, we will find that we have been idolatrous. More
Love and other obedience to the law would indeed be considered as righteousness—if we kept the law. Because people did not keep the law, the promise of grace was given. More
Take note of this sentence: “For the law does not justify as long as it can accuse us.” The purpose of the law is to teach people to live as God wills and, when they deviate, to accuse them of breaking the law. More
What good is it to go to church on Sundays, bring an offering, be an usher, and serve on a committee, if the doing of these things is the whole of one’s religion? All of these things and more can be done without any faith in God. More
Faith in Christ freely obtains forgiveness of sins and delivers a person from sin and death. The result is love and worship. Faith in one’s religious works and moral excellence, however, is a deadly trap. More
The conscience is a restless thing. It is always busy trying to soothe itself. This never works since there is only one thing that brings peace. More
The very inclination to imagine that we can satisfy God’s holy demands is proof of our depravity. We cannot transcend ourselves by our own efforts. More
The law is kept in this way: first, God loves us. Then, while we are still ignorant of his love, our disobedience to God begins to unsettle and even frighten the conscience. More
People cannot keep the law of God as long as they have bad hearts—while they operate in their original, sinful nature. They may undertake to practice the law but these will only be lifeless, cold actions. More
Why did the Father send his Son to earth? He did this so that humanity would be redeemed. In other words, Jesus, the long-awaited Savior, came to save us from sin and death... More
“The greatest of these is love.” Therefore, we must keep the whole law, the first commandments as well as the latter. We must not only honor our parents... More
“Let me know how that works out for you,” some friends of mine remark whenever people say they are going to do something considered unlikely or even impossible. It is a sarcastic reply... More
Yes! We ought to keep the commandments. Our hearts urge us to do so, as do the Scriptures. The law is written upon our hearts and should be lived out. As Christians, we ought to be doing a much better job of keeping the law... More
Justification is no idle dream among Christians. The Church stands upon the promise of God in Christ Jesus. Otherwise, we have built the Church on sand. But the Church has built its house on the Rock. More
Faith happens when the heart is prompted by the Holy Spirit to believe that the promise of God is true. By faith, we take hold of the gospel with confident hope, becoming certain that Jesus died for the sin of the world. More
The idea that faith only comes into existence when it is formed by love is contrary to Scripture. Faith comes first, as a free gift of God. Only then do virtues like love begin to develop. More
We often think of Paul’s mysterious “thorn” as a physical affliction. However, if we consider it a spiritual thorn, we may find some profit. More
The bill is overdue. Ignoring it does not help a bit. It looms over you and you know that your service is about to be cut off. In the same way, our sin has put us in debt. More
Jesus was pierced for our “transgressions.” He bore the discipline that was our due, eternal death. Though we strayed, he went willingly to slaughter, knowing that his death would mean our life... More
William Temple said, “If we are traveling heavenward, we are already in heaven.” Our lives have already been transformed in a heavenly way. More than that, we are so assured of eternity... More
The Rymans are a pretty decent bunch of folks. You should have met my grandfather. He was a great man in my book. But salvation is not available to me in the name of Fred Ryman, nor in the name of Ryman—the whole of my lineage. More
Verse 39 of today’s Scripture reads in the English as either justified” or “freed.” The older the translation, the more chance there is that it will read “justified.” It is a legal term... More
If God expected us to save ourselves, we would be condemned before we begin. Even if we were capable of doing enough good moral, civil, and religious works to cancel out our sins, we would still be sinners. More
Having been a devout Jew, a Hebrew among Hebrews and as to the law, a Pharisee (Phil 3:5), the Apostle Paul would never have let a phrase like “faith justifies” slip out unwittingly. More
The key phraseology of Paul is “through faith” or “by faith.” He mentions it 31 times. Not only Paul though, since James and Peter each use the phrase once, and the writer of Hebrews uses it 24 times. More
Our lives come from God. Every good and perfect gift comes to us through the Father. (James 1:17) Well, except salvation and righteousness; we must work for those. No! Heaven forbid! More
Even if you had to do some things in order for the promise of forgiveness to apply to you, how would you know when you had done enough good? At any rate, merit has been taken away from us... More
Melancthon may as well have said that he could quote Paul, Augustine, and the Fathers all day long, but see here! Peter too, and the prophets also, lend support for justification by faith. More
Only the high priest could represent the people before God in the temple. But Jesus, the “great high priest,” represents us before the Father in heaven. We cannot represent ourselves. More
Some people rely on religion as a way to gain peace or go to heaven—or rather, not go to hell. This puts the cart before the horse. Instead, they should be interested in being with God. More
Søren Kierkegaard wrote in Sickness Unto Death that we acquire a new appreciation of ourselves when the self is viewed “directly in the sight of God.” When we see ourselves as God sees us, everything changes. More
It is easy to admit that everyone is a sinner, since we see the evidence in the news, in the lives of those we love, and certainly in our own lives. Scripture also plainly states... More
Imagine a man condemned to spend the rest of his life in prison. One day, the word comes from the jailer that the president has pardoned his offense. It is too good to be true. More
What else do I need to do? Nothing. Christ has done it all. He he has taken unrighteous sinners and assigned his own righteousness to their account. More
Even our currency proclaims Christ alone. “In God we trust.” What is unwritten is that we do not trust in money or what it buys—or who does the buying. Yet when it comes to religion, we want to trust in the things we do, as though they can buy salvation. More
Faith is not ineffectual—or as some insinuate, “pie in the sky.” Faith is a light, life, and force in a person as to renew the heart, mind, and spirit. Faith makes new people of those who believe in Christ More
Saving faith does not happen because one performs the right deeds or recites the correct formula or prayer. Nor does it come about all at once. More
Daily sacrifices were performed at the temple in Jerusalem because God commanded. Sacrifice was done as an outward expression of grateful dependence upon God. More
Even the saints of old understood the kind of worship that expected blessings from God. It may not have seemed like they understood anything but a quid pro quo religion. More
Justifying faith, properly understood, includes these three things. First, that a promise has been made. God has promised to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness in order to reconcile the world to himself through Christ. More
If a promise is made, faith—not work—is required. This is true in human relations and it is no less true in the relationship between the human and the divine. More
We should certainly offer our whole selves to God (Rom 12:1). Yet, to imagine that this appeases God's wrath or earns justification and salvation is self-deception. More
Knowing stories about Jesus is not faith. Faith is a matter of the heart over the head. Faith trusts that God loves me even when I think that he cannot. More
Ironically, so-called personal faith does not rely upon personal works but upon the person of Christ. It is solely because of him that God is reconciled and made favorable toward us. More
How misleading—and even rude—it would be to invite people to a party and then demand that they serve the guests in order to stay. More
Circumcision was a seal or sign of Abraham's faith in God's promise. It was not a requirement for earning God's grace. Rather, it was a sign that Abraham believed what God promised. More
The law is always accusing us of wrongdoing. That is the law's job. Furthermore, we know the law is right. In ourselves, we have no leg to stand on. The law has us dead to rights. More
God is concerned, though not primarily so, with the things that we do. The external matters such as are found in the second table of the law are there—in second place—for a reason. More
The words of Jesus are enough. If it is Jesus who makes us free, how dare we try to make ourselves free through works of the law? So some say, “Yes, he sets you free but you must add works to remain free.” More
Lutherans insist that Christians should do good works. However, they also confess that these works do not earn God's grace and save them from sin and death. More
An external religion does not earn the grace of God. Therefore, anyone merely keeping appearances, even if they strive to keep the commandments, is still in sin. More
The first use of the law is social in nature, for it creates boundaries and consequences for those who do wrong. This is as far as reason or earthly righteousness goes. By itself, it can never create true love for God. More
Just as people are not forgiven of their sins because of civil deeds and religious works, these works also will never make them righteous before the holy God. Their works and their external piety, no matter how fine, will never make them holy on the inside More
There is an earthly righteousness that comes from human work and ability. Keeping the commandments, being a good citizen, exercising control over what is said, and minding one's own affairs with diligence and humility are examples of this kind of righteousness. More
The law is a good thing. It teaches us how to interact with God and with each other. The law also provides necessary restraint on the uncivil elements of society so that good order may be maintained. More
The foolish person builds a house on sand. This should make me wonder about that beach house I have always wanted. Trying to live by the law is like owning a beach house. More
Why would one wonder whether they had fully earned or received God's grace? If it must be earned, is it grace? Wondering about such things is an indication that one does not understand the ways of God at all. More
The Reformers were answering challenges from a church that really believed it was their own works that earned them eternal life. Take that in for a moment. More
If Christianity is simply another philosophy, then Christ and the cross offer no distinctive benefit to sinners. More
The whole problem of the scholastics, as it is with the world's philosophers, is that they believed that people are capable of being good. More
Some things come to us naturally. For example, we can look at the beauty and complexity of nature and understand that there must be a creator. More
The defense of the doctrine of justification begins with a definition of terms. The revelation of God is understood easily by seeing it in its simplest functions. More
This is the foremost of the chief articles for the Lutherans. Justification touches every other article and doctrine in the Augsburg Confession and its Defense. More
Even a doubter like Thomas understood that Jesus is both God and man. Jesus Christ is God incarnate, or in the flesh. Thomas said that he would not believe Jesus was raised from the dead unless he saw him in the flesh. More
Melancthon cut to the heart of the issue in this closing paragraph of his article defending the doctrine of original sin. The issue was truth. The Lutherans were convinced that they correctly believed. More
Sin is a far more serious problem than most people realize or want to admit. In our day (at least in much of European and American societies), many people seem to think that if they ignore sin or call it something other than evil that it will go away. More
As we have seen, part of the confutation or refutation of the Augsburg Confession was a disagreement with the Lutherans about what has been called, up until now, concupiscence. Today, Melancthon names it with the Greek word, "fomes." More
It was not only those who penned the confutation who did not consider concupiscence, lust or the inclination and desire to sin, an actual sin in and of itself. Other Reformers thought the same thing. More
God gives us the sacrament of baptism to cleanse us from our sin nature. He cleanses us with his word of promise in the water but he does even more cleansing. More
This lengthy response to the confutation (and there is a good deal to go yet) is all to show that the Lutherans taught the same thing about original sin as the Scripture and the Church. Yet they wanted to be specific about what the lack of original righteousness means... More
We too often consider sin something we do. It is more than what we do; sin is the reason we do the things we know to be sinful. We sin because we are full of sin. More
Original sin is an inability to seek God and his righteousness. What we are left with is the inordinate ability to seek after the things of the flesh. More
The original sinful nature that we are all born with must be drowned in baptism. Thereafter, since the flesh is so comfortable in its old clothing, there must follow a daily and even a continual putting off of that old self. More
Not only did these two Church Fathers consider the image of God to be his nature, even Lombard, who was one of the scholastics whom the Lutherans cared little for (and this is putting it mildly), clearly stated the same. More
Melancthon probably did not expect push-back on the doctrine of original sin, and so, he provided an article of a few sentences in the Augsburg Confession. As the Lutherans' opponents wished to quibble, Melancthon furnished them a far lengthier defense to chew on. More
By means of reason, one may understand that without the doctrine of original sin, God must be considered rather foolish. Why would he send his Son to redeem people who were capable of redeeming themselves? More
The Lutherans used the same terminology as the scholastics, at least when speaking of original sin, but they meant something else than the scholastics seemed to be saying. Scholasticism was a school of critical thinking in medieval universities that valued artful argument above all things. More
We discover that we are sinners from a very early age. Every one of us is known to walk in sin, and so, Scripture teaches that we are dead in our trespasses. This corruption of human nature skips no one. More
One of the slogans of the Reformation was (and continues to be) “sola Scriptura.” Those Latin words mean “Scripture alone.” The idea behind that motto is that the Bible, the written word of God, may be relied upon as a sufficient guide and last word on truth More
It is quite evident that such subtleties have originated in the schools, not in the council of the Emperor. But although this sophistry can be very easily refuted; yet, in order that all decent folk may understand that we teach nothing absurd on this matter, we ask that the German Confession be examined first. More
Lutherans teach that original sin is actual sin, not merely the inclination to sin. The result is that we are naturally without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with all the lusts of this life. More
The Church in Rome believed the same thing about God's nature that Lutherans believed. Yet, as we shall soon see, there was much in the Lutheran Confession at Augsburg that they found disagreeable. More
The Church in Rome replied to the Lutheran's Augsburg Confession with what is called the Confutation. However, the Lutherans were not permitted to have a copy or to know what was contained therein, except that they agree to three things. More
There can be endless debate on religious and political topics. 500 years, the Lutherans were embroiled in both. It was the Emperor who ordered the Lutherans to set forth their differences with the Church in Rome. More
The Lutherans would not back down when it came to the unmistakable teaching of the gospel. The keeping of rules would never do—not when it was said that by doing so, God's grace could be earned. More
Legalism demands that we keep as law even those things that were never intended to be law. Ancient customary matters of hair, dress, jewelry, food, drink, and other minutia become the focus for some people. “Do this! Don't do that!” preoccupies their attentions and energies More
It is no wonder that people think one has to do something to make God happy. This is the way with religion. We imagine that God must be appeased and that religious people must do the pacifying. More
The Large Catechism regards the Sabbath as “an entirely external matter, like the other regulations of the Old Testament associated with particular customs, persons, times, and places.” More
It is perfectly fitting for a congregation to develop rules for how things are done in the church. And it is perfectly wrong to say that one earns God's grace by keeping those rules. More
There are some who sin by having faith in the things that they do. There are others who are not content with this but must have a following, leading others astray from a knowledge of the truth. This should not be a strange revelation... More
The Church has no need of more rules and traditions. The law which is in place through the Scripture is more than sufficient to make people aware of their sinful condition. The grace... More
The issue for the Lutherans was not whether one should, for example, fast during Lent or observe a service of worship beyond the Lord's Day. More
No bishop or pastor should create any tradition that promises people God's grace. Nor should the people be threatened with God's disfavor when people do not obey these human inventions. More
The jurisdictions of Church and State must be kept separate. If a bishop has secular power, it was conferred by the government, not by divine agency. More
Powers are kept at bay and the kingdom of Christ is advanced every time we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” More
The power of the keys is as clear as the plain commissioning of the gospel. Preach! Inherent to the proclamation of the gospel is the administration of God's grace through his sacraments. More
Put in plain terms, the Church has power in spiritual matters. The State is left to deal with all else. Both Church and State overreach when they enter into the affairs of the other. More
God's will is that we would perform our normal duties of life faithfully and sincerely. In other words, we must not run from life, hoping that a deal we make with God will somehow make us perfect. More
What is there to do when the advice one gets at Church is in conflict with the gospel? First of all, we should not be surprised. More
Christ is the sole player in our perfection. He has made satisfaction and atonement for our sins. We can add nothing to his perfect work on the cross. More
To say that one may do something—anything—that could earn God's grace is an insult to the gospel of our Lord. The Lutherans pointed out this fallacy in the monasticism practiced at the time of the Reformation. More
The Lutherans believed that marriages could not be annulled by monastic vows. Indeed, the opposite is the case: marriage vows annul monastic obligations. More
When the Apostle Paul was a grown man, able to make decisions as to whether or not to be married, he seems to have chosen to remain unmarried so that his time could be devoted to the kingdom of God. More
The practice of religion can be insincere and downright hypocritical. Even our devotion can be disingenuous when it is focused on self instead of God. So we should watch our step and guard our words. More
The Lutherans at Wittenberg allowed those under vows to marry. Some had been placed under monastic orders by their families, and others by their own ignorance More
The Apostle Paul admits that he is not perfect, but struggling against his flesh. (Rom 7:15) He presses on toward the goal of completeness, in spite of his imperfect state. More
The idea that one could earn favor with God permeated the Church. Monastic vows was one more example of this doctrine of works. More
Lutheran worship is well-known for being traditional, often in form but always in terms of those things that contribute to good order. More
The difference was, as it always was for the Lutherans, that they did not regard discipline of the flesh and other Church traditions as necessary for salvation. More
God's grace cannot be earned or increased by keeping Church customs. So, Lutherans confess that we are saved by the grace of Christ alone, as the Scriptures teach. More
The Lord insists that we teach his Word with patience and clarity. We must take a firm stand on matters of doctrine, for people's souls hang in the balance. Such was the case for the Lutherans in Wittenberg. More
“They can't see the forest for the trees” is a saying that could easily be applied to the Church. What difference does it really make whether the Bible is carried into the sanctuary in just the right manner, so long as the Word of God is read? More
The kingdom of God is not in the doing of things but in believing what has been done. There is nothing wrong, of course, with following God's law and keeping his commandments. Christians keep God's commands but they do not believe that religious acts elicit God's mercy. God loves us with a perfect love. More
The Lutherans insisted that they were under no such obligation to satisfy God since we are not forgiven by our works but instead for Christ's sake alone. Justification with God is through faith in Christ's work, never by religious deeds. More
No one can remember or even be aware of all of his sins, so that sort of confession that demands a litany of every last sin is hopeless. Trying to do so will produce a miserable person, overburdened under the weight of both his sins and the Church's demands. More
Both the Small and Large Catechisms of Luther provide instruction about how to make confession. We teach that people must confess their sins before receiving Holy Communion. And they must be forgiven. More
Holy Communion is a benefit for those gathered. It is not to be served to those who are not present or to unbelievers or the dead. When the Church gathers for worship, Communion is celebrated with proper order. Communion is not a potluck that feeds the belly. More
When you approach the altar, you ought to ask, “What am I doing here?” The answer, of course, is that your Lord has called you to his table. You might think that you are unworthy to eat from his hand. Nevertheless, he has called you — commanded you. Take. Eat. More
It was believed that the Mass was an additional sacrifice that atoned for people's sins—indeed, not just the sins of the living but the dead as well. Because the Church had come to accept that Christ's death only atoned for Original Sin... More
It is bad enough when people who know better turn a blind eye to the truth. It is worse when they do so for financial reward. This was a leading problem facing the Church, not only at the time of the Reformation but for hundreds of years prior to the reform efforts of the Lutherans. More
The Mass, or Holy Communion, was being bought and sold in the days of the Reformation. It was thought that one could purchase a Mass to be said for himself as a way of earning some merit with God. More
Lutherans celebrate Holy Communion often—many of our churches communing each Lord's Day. We do so with order and reverence, beginning with the acknowledgment that we all sin... More
Then, he too took a wife, a former nun by the name of Katherine. She became everything God intended in marriage. She was in all ways Luther's helpmate and better half. More
When we begin to change the plain meaning of God's Word or remove words that offend us, we offend God and are condemned by the very words we omit. More
But corruptions had begun to creep into the Church. Reform was badly needed so that people's hearts could again be comforted by the mercy of God in Christ. More
Since it has been shown that the Church Fathers also agreed with their teachings, it must be noted that the Wittenbergers were also in accord with the whole Church. More
Lutherans encourage an old tradition: imitate those who imitate Christ. (1 Cor 4:16; 11:1) We hold up the lives of the saints as models of faith to be followed. But we do not venerate the saints or pray to them. More
The doctrine of justification by faith does not rule out doing good works. Rather, it shows us how we are able to do good works. Left to our own devices, we would not do those principal Christian works. More
Faith is completed or fulfilled in our good works. One may say that she believes in God but if she left her brother hungry or threadbare would anyone suspect she was a member of the family of God? This is not a living faith. More
Lutherans teach that God loves all people. Indeed, he loves us so much that he sent his own Son to bring eternal life to everyone who believes in the Son. (John 3:16) His limitless love brings peace and comfort... More
Our works are always questionable. Does one do enough, for the right reason, and so forth? Therefore, the conscience cannot be consoled as it will debate with itself as to whether one has become good enough for God. However one may try, she will never be good enough. More
When one tries to reconcile God through good works, the conscience still trembles. One must put aside trust in self, and trust in Christ alone for righteousness before God. Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us to turn to ourselves and find peace. More
The doctrine of justification by faith is not a Lutheran innovation. We are not alone in our understanding of the Scripture. Even in the earliest days of the Church, it was taught... More
Faith trusts in Christ alone for salvation. This must be preached in all the churches since it is the teaching of Scripture and because this doctrine consoles Christians. (Rom 5:1) More
The Lutheran emphasis on justification by faith alone was attacked by those who insisted on being cleared of their sins by religious acts alone. Those who insisted that God's favor was earned instead of freely given... More
Yet, because of our human nature, we easily turn away from God, intent on having things our way. It is our wills that resolve to not do good; and this we call sin. More
Lutherans confess that they are entirely dependent upon God's grace from start to finish... We may be a good citizen of earth, but will never be fit for the kingdom of God until we become people of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. More
The theme of the Reformers in Wittenberg was faith. The standard of salvation and eternal life for Lutherans is always faith in God, not the lack of it nor of a reward for good works. On the Day of the Lord, Christ will return to judge... More
Scripture urges us to pray for those who rule over us. God has instituted good government. It is his servant for our good. The laws of the land, in so much as they agree with the Word of God, are to be obeyed. More
The human heart must constantly be reminded that Christ is the end of the law (Rom 10:4). There are “profitable” things that we retain, such as fasting during Lent, but to make fasting during this season a law and obligation is contrary to the gospel. More
God does not call all to these responsibilities, as some of the more radical wings of the Reformation taught. He calls “some”... More
The gift of Christ's Body and Blood may only be received in faith. It is not mere religious observance. Instead, it is God working through his Supper to enliven and establish our faith through continued grace. More
We confess that God's grace is freely available to sinners both before and after baptism, and should be just as freely declared to all repentant persons. More
Confession can be good for the soul. Generally, this is the case when a particular, perhaps difficult sin needs to be confronted squarely so that one might be healed. More
For now, in the tenth article, the Lutherans only and plainly confess that Christ's body and blood are truly present in his supper. His body and blood are also conveyed as true food and true drink to those who receive the sacrament. More
As there is no way to receive God's grace without baptism, strictly speaking from Scripture, they condemned the idea that children—or anyone else—could receive grace without baptism. More
Just as God does not need, nor does he use, a person's virtues to bring her to saving faith, he does not require so-called good men to deliver his grace or make it valid in a congregation. More
Building on the confession of “the communion of saints” in the creed, and that God imputes righteousness through faith, Melancthon is emboldened to state that the Church is a “congregation of saints.” More
The Lutherans also wished it to be known that justification by faith did not negate the command of God for his people to do good works. However, these acts of charity and obedience are a result of faith—not a requirement of justification. More
Real faith does not happen because one decides to believe, because one disciplines herself to be a holy person, or as the result of any other personal or religious preparation. More
It sounds as though a sixteenth century Lutheran wrote the words but they were penned by the Apostle Paul and inspired by the Holy Spirit in the first century. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Rom 3:28) There is no mingling of the two. More
To be as certain as they could be that the Church in Rome understood that the Lutherans were orthodox, they continued to confess key doctrines at Augsburg. So far, there are none where they would disagree. More
The Lutherans of old wanted to make it clear at Augsburg that they were sinners. Indeed, they wished it understood that they believed all people since Adam (Rom 5:12) were in this condition from the very beginning of their lives. More
The Confession offered at the Diet of Augsburg was designed to show that the Lutheran churches were doctrinally sound, orthodox, of the Church catholic. Orthodoxy begins with a right understanding of God. More
Christians ought to hope for unity, beginning to do so by considering how they agree on matters of the faith. After all, they are called to fellowship together in Jesus Christ our Lord (1Cor 1:9-10). Christians are also to be ready to defend the faith (1Per 3:15), even if it is in confessing it to one another. More
At first blush, it might seem to some that a salvation of works is being advocated. That interpretation would contradict the rest of the creed. More
The Small Catechism also, even though teaching from the Apostles' Creed that does not deal explicitly with the dual nature, teaches us that the ascended Christ is “true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.” More
He is not two beings, a god and a man somehow in a kind of symbiosis. Nor is he some kind of compound or complex organism, made by the joining of two beings, but no longer quite human or divine as a the result. More
The issue of the Athanasian Creed is not only that we rightly understand the Trinity of God but that we correctly understand the dual nature of Jesus Christ. More
As Paul says, repetition is good for us. We need to hear the difficult teachings many times before we begin to understand. So we hear again that each of the three Persons of the Trinity are uncreated. More
How can it be that there are three Persons but only one God? We try to make sense of it through human and earthly analogies but, of course, all of them fall short of the glory who is God. More
Now this is the catholic faith: we worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being. More
The latest theological craze attracts the spiritually distracted like deer to headlights. The more glaring and wilder, the better. What difference does it make, since they will likely be chasing a new idea within the month? More
The whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal, so that in all things, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. More
Everlasting life is a free gift from God. Jesus was sent by his Father so that we might not perish but by believing in what Jesus has done for us, live with him forever. More
The confession of resurrection is as important as that of the divinity of Christ or of creation or of any other item in our creed. Without resurrection, the rest of the creed falls apart. More
The “one baptism” into which we are baptized is Christ's baptism. His baptism is our own; it is why he was baptized: to fulfill all righteousness — even ours. More
We believe in the Church established by God, not a church established by Luther. Nor do we believe in the churches or denominations begun by any other parties. More
Luther teaches (Luther’s Works, vol 15, p 275) us that in his last words, David spoke of the Holy Trinity, that there were three Speakers talking by him or through him. More
The Creed helps the uncomprehending to confess and believe the Scriptures so that they may come to understand the incomprehensible. More
The Spirit was not birthed, but proceeds from the Father and the Son in eternity, even as Jesus comes from the Father in eternity. Though one proceeds from another, they are undivided in their essence; they are inseparably one. More
The Holy Spirit is too often thought of as impersonal, a power, rather that the relational third person of the Trinity who is God. More
Since God himself is eternal, his kingdom also remains forever. Within any kingdom, including God's heavenly kingdom, are its citizens, the king's subjects. The citizens of the kingdom of heaven are both angelic and human. More
We cannot expect to say it in every instance in the creed but it can be said here. He was born for us. He became man for us. He was crucified for us. He suffered for us... More
Note the words, “who for us men, and for our salvation.” The only God, existing as Father, Son, and Spirit, sent himself into this world he created (John 3:16) and he did so for our sake. He did not come to earth on vacation as a Greek god would... More
Here we see a straightforward denial of the Arian heresy: Jesus is “not made.” If there was any uncertainty about the definition of the word begotten, here is the clarification: “not made.” The Son of God is not a created being, like angels or humans. More
These days, we say, “true God of true God,” and rightly so, since “very” used to be used as truly or true. The Latin word from which we derive the English word “very” is verus which means “true.” We still think this way, even if we do not realize we do so. More
Jesus is not a reflection of this light. He is the light. He is the “true light.” (John 1:9) He is that “joyous light of glory” whom we confess as God. As he is by definition, “God of God,” he is by description, “Light of Light.” More
Jesus is God, as the Father and the Spirit are God, and they are together God. He is the very essence of what it is to be God. He is the pith of divinity. More
In other words, the Son is eternal, as John testifies in his Gospel. The Son of God is not a created being, even one of a higher nature than man, but instead is himself the Creator. More
In the Nicene Creed, we confess one more thing about the Father than we do in the Apostles' Creed. We already profess that the Father is Maker of heaven and earth but now we say more specifically that he is Creator of all things—those things both visible and invisible, the things we know about and those we do not. More
The Nicene Creed originated from a need to confront a certain false teaching, or heresy, head-on by concisely and correctly teaching what the Scripture says about Jesus Christ. More
We spend our lives waiting on things to happen. As children, we were known to ask, “Are we there yet?” We could not wait for birthdays, Christmas, and vacations. They seemed never to arrive... More
Christ has redeemed everything we might consider corrupt, so the flesh, though it undergo decay or be consumed by fire, will be raised by the power of God. More
The forgiveness of sins is available because we admit our condition, the need of a Savior, and the truth that the Father sent his Son into the world to accomplish this very thing once and for all (Heb 10:10). More
From the Confessions: “The communion of saints" Community is not a solo event. It takes many saints to make a communion... More
From the Confessions: “The holy catholic Church.” We confess three things in this phrase. Let us consider them in reverse order. First, we confess that God has constructed himself a Church. Jesus told Peter... More
Christians believe that the Lord our God is one God yet three persons, or Trinity. We have named the first two persons of the Trinity who is God. More
We confess that Jesus ascended to his Father and that as Lord of of heaven and earth, he is appointed to be the judge of both the living and the dead. More
From the Confessions: “He ascended into heaven." Christ was not raised from the dead and ascended to the Father so that he would escape from death and this earth... More
Like Jacob, who simply believed the report of his son being still alive, we confess that on the third day Christ Jesus rose from the dead and lives. More
We should, however, find great comfort and hope that Jesus descended into hell. We celebrate the Ascension; we should observe the “Descension” too. More
Jesus really died. He is not dead, but he once died, crucified on a Roman cross. This was no trickery or vision; the incarnate God physically died. More
If Jesus had not died, he would have had no need of resurrection. Without resurrection, our faith is futile. (1Cor 15:14) This devotional series and all preaching would be in vain... More
All of Jesus' ministry looks toward the crucifixion. He tells his disciples over and over that this is why he came to earth. Sometimes it is a veiled announcement... More
The trial, a sham, complete with trumped up charges, an all-too-literal whipping boy, and a villain set free, would see Jesus spit upon, humiliated, scourged, a crown of thorns pressed into his scalp, and finally crucified... More
The divinity of Jesus is seen in the Spirit of God causing Mary to be pregnant. He came over her and overshadowed her. There was nothing physical in the act... More
Even in the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary we see that human works had no play. Mary did nothing. Joseph surely did nothing. The poor man was very likely stunned at the news... More
A lord is one with authority over another. He has the power to exert his authority, and likely will do so. He is master and absolute ruler of all under his dominion. In one sense, this is the meaning of “our Lord.” More
We believe that Jesus Christ is the only one who is “eternally begotten of the Father,” as we profess in the Nicene Creed. He is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God,” yet at the same time man. He is God in the flesh. More
The conjunction “and” is important. It is not used for word flow alone; nor is it used as merely an “also,” as if to say: Additionally, we believe in Jesus Christ. It is an intensifier. More
Here, the Apostles Creed echoes the opening words of Scripture. All things were created by the word of God. There is nothing that has been made apart from his word. Genesis tells us creation was spoken into existence... More
Though the Apostles Creed was not written by the Apostles, we consider it apostolic because it teaches their chief doctrines, often doing so with the very words of Scripture. It begins with the doctrine of “God the Father"... More
The Shema (meaning “hear” or “obey”) states that God is one God: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD, The LORD is one.” (Deut 6:4) However, the English translation obscures much in this verse. More
...Our word “creed” comes from the Latin “credo,” which means “I believe.” When we say a creed, we are concisely confessing what we believe. More
Let us be clear; Luther is not saying that God rewards our works and obedience with salvation. God grants salvation through faith in his grace alone (Eph 2:8–9). More
This section of John’s gospel is not in the earliest manuscripts. The story intrigues me, nonetheless. We wonder what Jesus wrote in the dirt. I like to imagine it was the name of a woman each of the accusers had secretly committed adultery with... More
To be sure, the precise meaning of today’s verse is that one who reads the Revelation to the church is blessed. The church is also blessed if they listen and obey. More
There is more to being persuaded than for a child to believe the Fourth Commandment. Another side of the persuasion is adults teaching it to the little ones. More
Now it came to pass in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first census made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. More
One must walk in God’s light; you cannot invent your own. He is the way, so we must walk in his truth. There are certainly many of those who would spin God’s truth into their own brand of truth. More
A Christmas message from Sola Publishing More
A Christmas message from Sola Publishing More
A Christmas message from Sola Publishing More
Would you do things to brighten your standing with God? Then you would simply shine with your own dim, human qualities. The Christian, however, reflects a divine glory... More
When the scroll of life is opened, what will it say about you? How will it record your response to the great commandment? Will you have loved the Lord your God so much as to believe in him and take him at his word? More
Faith embraces its vocation because it is freed to do so, because it trusts in another. The one who has faith, trusts in God instead of his or her own talents, work ethic, labor, or cunning. More
Should the created vaunt itself over the Creator? This logic follows downward. Next to the Father come father and mother, those whom God has put in charge. More
Declaring that a Christian’s deeds are required for justification and salvation both denies Christ and leaves the believer in despair More
If you will not do your job, it will be taken from you. Parenting is important, especially godly parenting. There is no difference between the old leaders of Israel... More
Why does God promise such a great blessing as long life? How does it work out that his promise may come to pass? He does so by delivering the faithful from sin and its consequences. More
Looming heartbreak had brought the disciples to the point of collapse, and so naturally, they were dead to the world when Jesus returned to them. More
These traditions that we have learned from our parents (if only our parents in the church) are a great and lifelong blessing. Through these, God is faithful... More
It is easy for us to confuse the plain sense of things. Sometimes we need someone to come in to our midst and cut to the chase. What is the point that underlies everything we do? More
Most of us have encountered a willful child whom we conjectured would either not live a long life or would be the death of his parents. But there is more to being an obedient child than civil order. More
These verses urge us to honor those who do the principal work of ministry in congregations. But it is good counsel to think of our parents along these lines too. More
We garner our initial knowledge of the Lord in the home. There, we learn how to honor our parents, and in so learning, we learn that we are not the center of all things. More
The people of God rebelled against his authority, largely because they were disrespectful to their elders. When this happens, society is ripped apart to the extent that even God cannot heal their wounds. More
Being obedient does not always make sense to us. This was especially the case when we were children. My father drove me crazy with his demands and discipline. He makes more sense to me now, some 50 years later. More
The young man in Matthew 19 had been keeping the commandments his whole life, or so he claimed, but still knew something was lacking. So he asked Jesus, “What good deed must I do to inherit eternal life?” More
Yes, God wants our good works, but he earnestly desires our hearts. Works that are done with an unbelieving, faithless heart are not good works; they are hypocritical. More
The Holy Spirit calls us to faith through the Word, and thereby grants us eternal life. The promises of God have already been gifted through belief in the promise. To this we are to add the qualities of faith More
Frankly, things look practically dark. It is difficult to look at the world and think otherwise. Look at all the young people out there who did not learn enough sense from their parents... More
True holiness and enlightenment is that which receives its righteousness and revelation from the living Christ, rather than trying to squeeze piety and secrets from the dead husk of works and religion. More
We are the workmanship of God, and have been created in Christ for good works. Though God’s grace saves us through faith in Christ Jesus, we are nonetheless, expected to bear fruit... More
“I will give up heating this year for God! He will respect me for that sacrifice and grant me entrance at heaven’s gates.” As some old friends of mine used to say mockingly, “Let me know how that works out for you.” More
Mothers and fathers are given a great honor; let them rise to the responsibility of that honor. Let them teach their children the commandments and the whole Word of God... More
Those who depend upon their works instead of their hope and faith in the great work of Christ Jesus have already bowed to the beast. In doing so, they have knelt before the dragon... More
It is not easy to be a child. Nor is it easy to be followers of Christ, his church. One may, at first, imagine the difficulty lies in keeping the commandments—for who can do so with the slightest measure of perfection? More
I do not believe in God by way of my reason, decision, determination, or strength. I come to God through God. It would be quite impossible to come to God by way of my own understanding. More
How ironic that we consider the Fourth Commandment while reading today’s gospel lesson. A woman in the crowd seeks to honor the mother of Jesus, and Jesus improves upon her blessing... More
We cannot imagine how something could be so; the Lord surely did not mean it that way. Perhaps it was just a man writing down his own thoughts that came to be considered The Holy Bible. More
Why did the gentiles come to a state of righteousness when the Jews worked hard at it but never arrived? Why did the gentiles attain righteousness when they did not even try? More
Even Jesus obeyed the commandment to honor his earthly parents, as well as his heavenly Father. Honoring one’s parents is an extension of the greatest commandment. More
Feeling angry, arrogant, rebellious? Would you vent your frustrations on the Lord using insolent words? Of course not; you should not do so with your parents either. More
The harvest begins at home. Knowing how the kingdom laborers will be limited, God orders matters efficiently from the outset. There are two workers assigned to each of us so that we may each be properly gathered into his harvest. More
We should regard our parents with the greatest respect, for this is our duty before God. Whether we like them or not, or even if they do not treat us well, they are to be honored because God commands us to do so. More
Peter failed to recognize what was happening in this singular event that showed him the glory of Christ Jesus. More
We have seen what Peter would do if left to his own reason. Religion (Matt 17:4) and abandonment (Luke 22:54-62) are the outcomes. More
You may think that Paul’s warning to the centurion was not inspired. Yet, see how it finds its way into Luke’s account, into the Scripture? There is great danger in not paying attention to biblical counsel. More
Does it seem to you that some time has passed since you have heard from the Lord? Or, on the other hand, does it seem like it was only moments ago that God spoke? More
Who was hounded by the devil more than Jesus? Now ask yourself: who has ever prayed more? Knowing the need, Jesus modeled the life of prayer to his disciples. More
Look at all the trouble that Paul and Luke went to just to preach the gospel. This is the great mission of the church, and they undertook it with passion. We should receive the proclaimed gospel with a matched passion... More
Troubles come and troubles go, but we must abide in the ship. We hear the Word on the Lord’s Day, but we should remember it and keep it throughout the week. More
Hosea’s agricultural imagery depicts the results of idolatry. It is the same as sowing your seed in the wind. The outcome is more wind, or if the seed blows to other properties, they will eat the grain. More
We need to be reminded every day that we are not our own saviors, that we are saved by God's grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. Remember your baptism! More
“There’s the rub!” as Shakespeare had Hamlet say. What is the origin of this famous saying? Believe it or not; it comes from bowling. More
If you would be righteous, you must live by faith. For if you imagine that you can be righteous by being virtuous and religious, then you are misguided by conceit. More
Laws are not established as mere prohibition, but as protection and benefit for the people. This is the case with divine law as well as human. More
What do you have to do in order to become holy? Nothing but follow him who makes one holy. We are called to follow him so we may be present for his great blessings. More
What greater words are these, spoken by God himself? The promise, “You are forgiven.” is received by God’s grace through faith alone. More
God’s word, the gospel, is the very power of salvation. This is how God bequests the eternal inheritance of the saints. He constructs a Christian through the word of his grace—in other words, through the righteousness of Christ. More
Everywhere Jesus traveled, he healed people, and fed them, but also taught them in the synagogues, as well as on the mountains and plains. Never once did he complain that all those people ever wanted out of him was his word. More
Great blessing awaits those who have developed the practice of going to worship on the Lord’s Day. But if they attend church only to go through the motions, not truly involved in the what is happening... More
We spend our days working for the food to feed ourselves and our families, struggling for higher position, and trying to keep illness and death at bay. These were the very temptations that faced Jesus in the wilderness. More
Be persuaded by the testimony of Scripture to worship God as he commands, not as the civil law or cultural conscience dictate. In other words, if local, state, or federal law change to the degree of demanding that you must not worship on the Lord’s Day, you have but one option, Christian. More
Why are you in the kingdom but to be a suitable subject, doing your king’s bidding? But what is his will? you may wonder. He has made this matter obvious, though the details may seem unclear. More
Would you be ignoble? Ignore the Scriptures. Would you be honorable? Attend to the weekly service to hear the word of God read and expounded. More
Christians worship, not only when commanded, but when there is need. Are you a sinner in need of forgiveness? Worship. Are you thankful? Worship. More
On their way to worship, Paul and Silas were hounded by a slave fortune teller, whom they healed of demonic possession, essentially cutting of a flow of money to her owners. For this, they had Paul and Silas beaten and imprisoned. More
Take a break. Find respite from the hubbub every day, if you can. It is a great way to honor the First Commandment, to put the Lord first in your day. But certainly take a break on the Lord’s Day. More
It is not the severity of our religious observances or the long list of our good works over a lifetime that makes us fit and worthy for the kingdom of God. More
What is the aim of the gospel? That question will guide you in determining if something is a matter of the spirit or a religious observance. More
When we read the law, much less try to keep it, we must also hear the word of grace. The commandments do us no good without God’s grace. More
Find a way! Speak their language while proclaiming the word of truth. Teach in different ways. Get through to them, especially as pertains to these first commandments. More
This is what The Small Catechism does; it teaches us to put on the only righteousness that is effective. It instructs us to fear, love, and trust in God, who alone is our righteousness. More
We do well to entrust ourselves to God. He is faithful to strengthen us and protect us from evil. He is faithful to so in this life and save us for the life to come. More
Poor Job was tormented by his friends, shunned by his family, and was of the opinion that God was after him. Did he simply complain about his plight? Was he reduced to whining about his tribulations? More
There is no easier way for the works of God to be demonstrated in our lives than by our calling upon the Father. See the different ways we pray it is so. May your name be holy among us. More
In this example of Herod, we may quickly observe what is important to God. Herod was full of himself, wanting people to hear his words. More
Some people, those relying on their own old nature, cannot bear to hear God’s word, let alone understand it. They will not listen, because they are not of God; they do not have a new nature. More
The disciples of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch. Some say that this means “little Christs.” If so—if Christians are those who would imitate him—their lying would immediately bring dishonor to the name of the God whom they follow. More
The worst way to take God’s name in vain, is to say or believe that favor from God is received in one’s own name, his own reputation—in other words, by the merits of what he does. More
Jesus uses the Name in a doubly devout manner. Not only does he teach what his Father sent him to teach, he gives God the credit too. Jesus’ teaching depended on the reputation of the one who sent him. More
Jesus taught us in the Fifth Petition of his prayer to trust in God for forgiveness of our sins. Human nature reasons that our suffering is caused by God no longer loving us, and that there must be a reason for the loss of his care. More
Why is it that God is so concerned with words, that we speak the truth and use his name, his reputation, with care? Words, true words, create life. They create faith in Christ Jesus, which leads to eternal life. More
Fear is a good thing. But we say that we do not want our children growing up, fearing the Lord. We want them to fear hot stoves, bad influences, and other harmful things, but not to fear taking the Lord’s name in vain. More
Everywhere one turns, there are lies and deception. In the modern age, we call it spinning the truth, and thereby, we even lie about lying. People claim to no longer lie, but to simply spin the truth. More
Wickedness exists because people want things their way. They want what belongs to another, or they want but will not work. They want their own will be done, not, “Thy will be done.” More
Have you ever noticed in the Old Testament the convention of capitalizing the word “Lord,” or sometimes “God”? These indicate a place where the consonantal name of God, YHWH... More
Name-calling, threats, imprisonment, and murder are bad enough but when they are done under the cover of religion, these things are contemptible. More
Micah stole a great sum of money from his mother, then returned it because he feared her curse. She then dedicated it to the Lord, evidently hoping to amend the curse that ended up being upon her son. More
Among the crowds was a royal official who believed Jesus. While he took Jesus at his word, the rest seemed to need a show of it: signs and miracles. More
As one would imagine, there are stark differences between Samson and Jesus. Samson took whatever his flesh desired. Jesus wanted what his Father willed. Samson killed to get what would not come to him naturally. More
See how near the Samaritan woman was to missing the grace of God. Old wounds and deep pride kept her from speaking the truth. More
If the apostles had promised to teach no longer about Jesus, but did so anyway, they would have taken the Lord’s name in vain. They would have lied in the name of God. More
The keeping of the commandments, so far as it depends upon us, begins with controlling the tongue. The Apostle James said that the tongue is a restless evil, so we must try to give it a rest. More
What is one to do when all attempts have been made to reason with people who have willfully gone astray? There are people—yes, even in the churches—who willfully ignore Scripture, insisting instead on their own bent reasoning. More
Conversely, when the First Commandment is not observed, the other commandments will be broken. See how quickly, even after Gideon says God will rule the people, they put their trust in an object. More
It needs saying again, that a particular idol is always lurking nearby. We need to be aware of it so that we may give it a good kick behind us. More
Look to the lowly apostles. None of them was high or mighty in the ways of the world. They were mostly fishermen, but because they put their trust in the Lord, God made them fishers of men. More
If you would trust anything in this life, trust that which has been from the beginning, that truth which continues to flow down to us today. More
Gathering together, likely for prayer and the latest word from the apostles, those earliest disciples were probably considered fools by those in the streets of Jerusalem. More
Just as Joshua exhorted the Israelites to choose whom they would serve, Deborah pressed Barak to trust the one God, fearing him more than Jaban, the Canaanite king, and his commander Sisera, with all his troops. More
It may seem, at first, that God’s offer is not so friendly, for we see readily enough in the commandment, the threat of his wrath if we disobey. And how can we not disobey? More
Because the Israelites lived with the evil in the land, instead of driving it out as God commanded, God allowed to happen what would, of course, transpire. The same thing has happened in our own country. More
Because God is a loving Father who cares for those who believe in him, we owe it to him to esteem him above all else. Yet, even those who do not believe are obliged to honor him, simply because he is God. More
The news had traveled throughout the land, how God had fought Israel’s battles. Country after country, and city after city were terrified of Israel’s approach. Still, the king of Jerusalem dared defy God’s will by asking four other kings to help him with their armies at their sides. More
First, let us deal with the common misconception that because my father or mother sinned, I and my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will pay for their transgression. More
If you have ever watched someone incise a single letter into slate, you can imagine how long it took Joshua to engrave the whole law on the altar at Mt. Ebal. More
We want it, and we want it now. Furthermore, we want what we want, not that which is given. This is a depiction of children, but when adults act that way, it is an indictment. More
Lest we lose sight of our theme, we are considering how all good gifts come from God. We do not take them; we receive them. Some of the Israelites snatched blessings from Jericho’s dead. More
Of course, the risk is that the First Commandment be turned into a business venture. If you just do this or that, it might be promoted, then God will give you whatever you desire. More
One cannot think of himself any more highly than to think he is fit to do what only God can do. God helps us in our human weakness, comforts us in our consciences, and saves us, not only from our sins, but also to eternal life. More
All good is from God, as well as through him, and returning to him. He gets the credit: all the credit. I do not get the glory, nor do you. Government does not get the praise, nor its politicians. More
There is no greater idol, no hollower false god, than self. When we puff ourselves up with religious pride, we should remember that only emptiness may be inflated More
Minerva is the Roman counterpart to the modern idol of work and industry. There is nothing wrong with a day’s work or of being industrious. More
You are not whole because you have filled yourself. If you believe in Christ, you are whole and filled in him, by him, because of him. So far, and as far as this life allows, you will never be whole as a result of your religious works and moral behavior. More
It is helpful to remember that you are baptized. In Christian baptism, Christ removed your sin, though that old nature would still rear its evil head in this life. More
You may be certain that God will abandon the one who trusts in himself — to himself. If a person takes pleasure in his own striving, if he finds consolation in his devotion, if he is confident in anyone but God, he will discover himself undone. More
We should, without any difficulty, be able to expect from God alone all good things, for he has given us the greatest gift already. He has provided for us forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life through his Son. More
Where does your help come from; from whom should you expect any assistance? To place your hope and trust in anyone but God is idolatry. More
Balak is exasperated at the realization that he cannot have his own way. He tried three times to coerce Balaam to curse God’s people, yet God blessed them three times over. More
See how unhappy King Balak is, with his godless insecurities. He will only be happy if millions of Israelites are cursed. Balaam also seems less than pleased, if the New Testament commentary has anything to offer. More
What do you want: Balak’s fortunes, or God’s blessings? We get in trouble when we want more than we need, more than what God has promised to provide. More
The story of Balaam can be confusing. We might be tempted to take his side against God, unless we understand that God allows us to pursue those things we truly desire. More
This is the whole point of the Catechism: to instill a standard of teaching to which our hearts may be conformed and confirmed. Then at all points in life...the Spirit may remind us that there is something—someone—at work within us. More
The Catechism is meant to accomplish two things: expose our sins, and reveal God’s grace. These very things may be easily overlooked if we view Catechism as a class one takes to memorize a little booklet. More
Have you ever tried to help your child with algebra homework? First, you have to learn it yourself. Second, you dare not help today but then, not help again until weeks later. More
Why did the Father send his Son to earth? He did this so that humanity would be redeemed. In other words, Jesus, the long-awaited Savior, came to save us from sin and death... More
What Christ actually instituted is sometimes quite different from what is practiced. So, let us be clear on what was actually done by our Lord, instead of what has been invented since. More
Millions of angels bow before Christ, who is worthy to be exalted over all creation. This is heard in Revelation’s septave of complete praise: power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing. More
Faith happens when the heart is prompted by the Holy Spirit to believe that the promise of God is true. By faith, we take hold of the gospel with confident hope, becoming certain that Jesus died for the sin of the world. More
If left to themselves, it is obvious enough, that we leave our children to the world and the rulers of the darkness of this time. So, we must teach our children to take up the armor of God. More
My grandchildren help themselves to our pantry and refrigerator. They understand that Nana and Papa do not want them to be hungry. We encourage them to take and eat. More
The power of Baptism is faith in the Baptizer, in God. Without faith in God’s word of promise, baptism is a ceremonial cleansing at best. But when the word of God is spoken through the water, and is received in faith, there is divine, salvific power. More
Why do we teach this condensed summary of the Holy Bible? We do so because Christ Jesus said, “Go.” Jesus tells his church to make disciples by baptizing them in the name of God and teaching them to obey his commandments. More
James is correct: faith must be shown in deeds (James 2:18). In other words, we are to love our neighbor. Yet, duty is learned; keeping the commandments does not happen naturally. More
Luther’s words seem extreme and even cruel to us. Yet there is nothing so cruel as to abandon one’s children at the gates of Hell. Our children, and all for whom we bear responsibility, should be taught the Scriptures. More
These lessons are primary and, therefore, necessary because they point beyond us. They direct us to God, instead of to ourselves, with our limited grasping. There is so much uproar surrounding us, demanding our attention, approval, and finally, allegiance. More
God wants us to ask him for all good things. In other words, he wants us to ask him for those things that he knows are best for us. So, being the knowing child of the Father, God’s Son teaches us how to pray. More
"We don’t believe in creeds." I have heard people proudly recite that statement many times too. "We only believe in the Bible," they usually continue. More
I don’t have to keep the law. I’m a Christian and we don’t have to do that anymore. I have heard plenty of people, even pastors, say similar words. Vehemently. More
The Small Catechism is aptly named; it is a little book of instruction on the Christian faith. It may not seem like much, and perhaps one is thinking, Why not read the entire Bible? Indeed; why not? More
There are those who are members of a church, yet not members of the Church of Christ, Christ’s body. Perhaps they were raised in the church or had a moment when they thought joining would be a good idea. More
One may find much to do, if staying busy is the plan. Or, if making money is the idea, again, there is no end to work. At the end of a life, what will be said of such people? More
Having spent the weekend with my grandchildren, I wonder if I might still be a child. I have the same question when I read the Bible and study the Catechism. There is so much to understand better. More
When Luther was praised for the great work he had accomplished, he gave the praise to God. He replied, “I did nothing; the Word did everything.” More
When I was in elementary school, I was always the fastest kid in my class. Although sometimes, Melony or Raymond gave me a run for my money. Mrs. Allen, our fourth grade teacher, tested us throughout the year, to determine the swiftest. More
A neighbor told me yesterday that she thinks, “this is a wake-up call for America.” Then she added, “I hope we're listening." She was referring to... More
When I was in high school, my grandma tried everything to fatten me up, as we way. I think skinny me was a slight on her good cooking. More
The Revised Standard Version may not be the most accurate English translation of 1 Timothy 1:4, but the idea of “divine training” has its appeal. Training does not seem too tempting, at first glance. More
It is too easy to become a heretic. It is easier to stop believing. Perhaps the easiest thing is to be lazy. Church membership rolls are filled with all three, but probably more of the third class. More
There are those who take no thought of the Bible, or even the Word in brief, speaking of the Catechism. They are either too dull or too brilliant. More
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me (Psa 16:7–8). How can we keep God’s commandments if we do not know them, or worse, forget them? More
The Catechism is a short discourse, packed with God’s Word. In it, the law accuses us, yet as we read on, we are reminded of the gospel, of God’s great love for us in Jesus Christ. More
When we work in the Catechism, we are essentially learning one thing in different ways. And what is it that the Catechism, in all its parts, teaches us but the greatest commandment which is the sum of all of God’s commandments? More
In many cases, Greek is difficult to translate into English in a way that makes sense. Today’s New Testament lection is such a case. Many English translations makes it sound like Christians do not sin. More
What goes for the pastors and theologians, goes, of course, for the whole church. None of us should presume that we have learned the Catechism, the basics of the Christian faith. More
Who calls pastors and teachers? God, of course. He should be able to expect of those he has employed that they do their work as he intends. Yet, in our churches, too many have ignored the basic teachings of Scripture. More
When I was a boy, I would walk down to Jeff’s house and he would join me on the walk to school. We would stop a few houses down the street to get Chris. Many mornings we had to wait on him to finish writing out the 50 states and their capital cities, before we could walk on together. More
There are plenty of know-it-alls out there. They have all the answers for you, and are happy to let you know what they call “truth.” Sadly, some of these gasbags are in our congregations. More
When my wife and I were dating, we would spend hours on the telephone. We did not have anything to say to each other for long stretches of time, but we would not hang up. We just wanted to be together, if only silently. More
We need not lay this at the doorstep of the past. Let us look to ourselves. One has to wonder how much fruitless babbling occurs on Sunday mornings. More
God provides everything we need for the ministry of his church. Now, we must use what he has provided. For example, if he has granted that one is a teacher of some kind, that person must teach truly, so that others may grow correctly. More
What does it mean for Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith? It means that you have cast off all moorings to what you imagine brings security. You no longer depend upon those things; you trust in Christ alone. More
Notice how the Catechism deals with both Law and Gospel. We see readily enough, how the Ten Commandments deal with God’s law, telling us what we must do and must not do. These are commands, or law. In the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Sacraments, we hear the word of grace, the Gospel. More
God knows us through and through. He comprehends the underlying reasons for all our actions, even before we have performed them. Further, he understands our inaction too, our sloth, our interest in things other than his will. More
How are we to go, unless we go with the whole Word of God: both his moral Law and his gracious Gospel? How are we to teach that Word of God, unless we know it? And how would we know it well and properly, unless we have a guide? More
Paul is famous for writing greetings like: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." How could he wish such abundance on the saints, if he did not love them and pray for them? More
What else is there for anyone to do but to love God and one’s neighbor? This is the greatest commandment. What better way is there for anyone to love God than to spend time with him? More
Young people are to learn humbleness and submissiveness to those who already know how to live before God. They learn, not simply by obeying the commandment but by observing the rest of us live in this godly manner. More
It all goes back to the commandments. It always does, the greatest commandment encompassing them all. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." More
There are over 40 million slaves in the world today. Far, far more feel enslaved by the workplace, though that is a far cry from any semblance of truth. Nonetheless, the same word goes for all. More
How many times have we heard it said to us by our parents? Who can say how much good those four little words have done for us? “Because I said so.” More
Our heavenly Father knows of everything we need, but do earthly parents understand everything that their children need? We know the basics, yet some of the real necessities can go begging. More
When we do well, we should not be afraid of anything that might bring terror into this life. What is more right and holy, more acceptable to God, than to offer ourselves to him in the living worship of seeking his mercy and grace? More
When marriage is rightly considered as a vocation, a calling for life, it is sobering. Would that more couples entered into the estate with a proper understanding of the gravity of what lies ahead. More
See how Moses did not take matters into his own hands—perhaps as he had done when he emptied his hands of the tablets in a fit of exasperation and anger. He soon humbled himself under the Lord’s will, bowing in worship. More
It can be difficult to obey the will of God when we are busy listening to our own voices. This was the case of the people of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness. More
Those called to the ministry of the Word deserve their wages. It is written, but it does not say how much or how well. The closest we can come to an understanding of salary is that those who do so most ably deserve twice as much pay for their labors. More
The Beatitudes provide us a sufficient test of those who would be teachers of the Word of God. The rest of Scripture makes it even clearer, but if we looked for evidence of the Beatitudes in the lives of those whom congregations are considering for pastoral call, we would do well. More
Even when facing the fear of God’s wrath, the leaders of the people were able to go up into the mountain of God with Moses and Joshua. How is it that they were able to do such a fearsome act? More
When at table, and we consider all of God’s benefits, we must not think only of those things that go into our mouths. We should also give thanks for what comes out of God’s mouth. More
Once again this morning, I looked for Corona virus news in the local paper. Specifically, I was looking for news about social isolation and stay-at-home orders. More
When we return thanks to God, our gratitude should not be merely for the food and drink we have received from him. We should be thankful for all his benefits. More
What is your concern, perhaps even an anxiety? Your heavenly Father cares for you, so he shares your concern—though it is no cause for angst in him. More
There are many lessons to be learned in this one verse. Let us learn one: that we may depend upon God for our daily bread, just as that wilderness congregation could. More
It seems, these days, that I am looking forward to going to bed as soon as I wake up each morning. When I was a young man and earlier, a teenager, going to bed was the last thing on my mind More
Jesus wants us to do more than follow him. Following Jesus is the starting point, from which eventually, there must be something more, lest following becomes stiff habit and we hang dead upon the vine. More
“Go to your work with joy” does not mean that you love your work. It means you love the one you work for, and who is with you while you work. More
I used to sing quite softly, especially in worship. Because I was unsure of my voice, I held back for fear of sounding worse to others than I did to myself. More
We entrust ourselves this day to the care of the one who will bring us into everlasting day. As eyelids flutter into wakefulness, our sleeping eyes will be instantly awakened. More
Luther encourages us to give thanks for making it through the night. That idea has a little more gravity when there is a global pandemic. So, we should thank God for each new day. More
The ordinance of the Passover provided a way for Jewish people to remember who and whose they are. In this observance, they remembered how the Lord delivered them from more than four centuries of slavery in Egypt. More
I love that Richard Pryor line toward the end of the movie “Silver Streak” when a gunfight has broken out between the FBI and criminals. Bullets are flying everywhere and Pryor, hunkered down behind a 55-gallon drum, has had enough of the chaos. More
Belief is the key to readiness. Do you believe that you are a sinner? If you do, then you are almost ready for the table. Do you believe that Jesus died to save sinners? More
All of our religious devices will never set us free from sin and death. Prayer will not do it, nor will Bible reading, Sunday School, or going to church. More
I would sit in the pew, trying to decide if I had been good enough in the past week to receive the bread and the wine. Of course, I was not good at all, nor would I ever be good. More
We cannot read the law with veiled hearts and expect to find the grace of God. All we sense is God’s displeasure. So, we cannot expect the law to come to our rescue. More
The struggle to be righteous is a desperate effort. There have been times when considering my life—my thoughts and actions—I nearly despaired. More
How solitary sits the city, how lonely and desolate. This is the lament of Jeremiah over Israel. Jesus grieves similarly over the people because they are without a shepherd. More
Be sure you do not get caught out in the field with your cattle. God’s forgiveness is abundantly available—even to pharaohs, even to sinners. Just come in from the storm. More
Holy Communion is a turning to the Lord, and in it, we behold his glory. Furthermore, the table is a sort of mirror in which we may begin to behold ourselves as God sees us. More
What a pleasing fragrance arises to God when his church believes the gospel by eating and drinking in remembrance of Christ Jesus. The aroma of our witness extends horizontally as well. More
The Lord is still driving us out of the land of slavery, not a three-day journey (Ex 5:3), but a full six days into the wilderness, to feast with the Lord. More
I remember so many Sundays about 40 years ago, when I remained in the pew, trying to decide if I was ready to receive Holy Communion. Was I penitent enough, devoted, pious, holy? More
I remember so many Sundays about 40 years ago, when I remained in the pew, trying to decide if I was ready to receive Holy Communion. Was I penitent enough, devoted, pious, holy? More
Oh, that we would listen to Jesus. I once knew a brother in a congregation who would walk straight out of church as soon as he had communed. More
I do not intend for us to understand this verse as being about Holy Communion. Obviously, it is about Baptism. Yet, there is relationship between the Sacraments, at least in Spirit and Word. More
One wonders if John Mark wrote this verse with tongue in cheek, or if Peter had told him the story with a wry tone at the memory. The disciples were worried about bread for their bellies, while they had the One Loaf to share as they sailed. More
This is how Jesus established his holy meal, and this is how we pass it down, like Paul, from generation to generation. We receive from the Lord himself, his body and blood—his own precious life—in the elements of bread and wine. More
When we share in Holy Communion, we are receiving the true body and blood of Jesus Christ. We are not simply receiving bread and wine that we eat in memory of what Christ did for us. More
Jesus reveals his divine power at times when those in need may apprehend. He speaks to peace of heart, saying, be not afraid, grab some courage. This word is always predicated on the fact that he is present. More
Jesus fed people throughout his ministry. A have a feeling that he fed people far more often than Scripture chronicles. The recorded cases were miraculous in nature, a little going a long way. More
Sometimes, it is when we imagine ourselves most right, that we may be very wrong. In today’s larger reading, Paul discusses Christian freedoms or rights, the liberties and privileges we have in Christ. More
The old proclamation of the twelve disciples still has legs. Even now, they go from house to house, urging us to repent. Have we failed God in the light of any of his commandments? More
Who was this woman, so afflicted that she hemorrhaged for a dozen years? She would have felt unclean and, no doubt, been considered unclean by others. More
The storms of life howl upon us, and we are frightened. The obvious example, at the moment, is the coronavirus. We shrink before the tempest, yet muster enough courage to rush out and purchase more toilet paper, soap, and sanitizer than we could use in a month of Sundays. More
We are united with the Lord, and by his grace made one spirit with him. Therefore, we should take special care not to sin, as our sins are really sins against the Lord, since we are one with him. More
Like Joseph’s brothers, we must confess, “In truth we are guilty” (Gen 42:21). Ours may seem to us lesser or greater crimes. No matter. We are guilty. More
Imagine a person who goes to church and thinks, I do not need to confess my sins because I am a good person. It is easy enough to imagine a person like this outside the church, but they exist inside the church too. More
Is the power of God at work in you? God forbid that it is only talk, just religion. The power of God’s kingdom has accompanying signs. These are not the sort of signs one finds in the world; they are God signs, signals of an unfamiliar power. More
Sometimes we think that if we try harder and work smarter, we will become good people. Then, a new day dawns and we discover we are still sinners. More
Some people have a problem with one person forgiving the sins of another. This is largely because they do not understand whom it is who is actually doing the forgiving. More
Perhaps we can see in Joseph’s escape from the pit, a foreshadowing of Christian baptism. In baptism, God snatches us from death and the evil intentions of the devil—though, indeed, we die in that pit. More
Sanctification or holiness is not something we do. Instead, Christ has become our sanctification. His righteousness is ours through faith. So is his sanctification and redemption. More
Paul remarked how thankful he was that he personally baptized only a few, so that personality cults could not rise up around him. I used to think it was Pastor Chu who baptized me at St. Luke’s back in 1955, but then I read his obituary and discovered he was pastor there from 1960 until 1966. More
Just as God does not need, nor does he use, a person's virtues to bring her to saving faith, he does not require so-called good men to deliver his grace or make it valid in a congregation. More
Jesus laid a heavy burden upon his followers when he said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” How can they do this? More
Building on the confession of “the communion of saints” in the creed, and that God imputes righteousness through faith, Melancthon is emboldened to state that the Church is a “congregation of saints.” More
At first he would not admit he had a problem but then, he went to his father for help. He told him that he would have to do this on his own and that all he had to do was white-knuckle it. More
The Lutherans also wished it to be known that justification by faith did not negate the command of God for his people to do good works. However, these acts of charity and obedience are a result of faith—not a requirement of justification. More
Real faith does not happen because one decides to believe, because one disciplines herself to be a holy person, or as the result of any other personal or religious preparation. More
Using the Sacrament in a way that Christ did not intend, abuses and profanes his Holy Supper. Offering his blessed promises to the dead and to those who do not believe makes it an occasion for sin and judgment. More
Our hope is in Christ alone. His resurrection from the dead is the basis of that hope. Because we were baptized into his death, we will be resurrected like him too. The details of what comes next are a mystery but our hope is unwavering. More
Christians ought to hope for unity, beginning to do so by considering how they agree on matters of the faith. After all, they are called to fellowship together in Jesus Christ our Lord (1Cor 1:9-10). Christians are also to be ready to defend the faith (1Per 3:15), even if it is in confessing it to one another. More
There are many fine collections of prayers available. If a person reads those prayers but does not believe in God, are they effective prayers? More
The Small Catechism also, even though teaching from the Apostles' Creed that does not deal explicitly with the dual nature, teaches us that the ascended Christ is “true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.” More
The blind man in John 9 went to a pool called “Sent,” and was blessed with sight. We have been dispatched to a fount called Christ, and have been given new life, lived forever before God in the righteousness and purity of Christ Jesus. More
Every day we must slay the old nature in us. By offering our doubts, temptations, and sins to God, we crucify the flesh. This is not a physical act like sacrificing an animal. More
Jesus confirms that we are all sinners (John 8:7). Who of us does not sin daily? Day after day, our sins can pile up in our memories. If we are not careful to seek the Father’s forgiveness and remember the promises of Baptism daily, the devil may slowly stop up the well. More
It made no difference to David the condition in which he found himself. Certainly he wished for comfort and gave God thanks for ease. Yet he seems to have learned to give God thanks regardless. More
In Christian Baptism, water does more than touch the outside of us, as though washing the skin. Because God’s Word is bound with the water, it cleanses and renews the whole person. More
God’s discipline is a difficult thing, but the Father does not discipline us so severely that we die. His Son, however, was disciplined to the point of death for the sins the world. More
Remember Jesus. Keep him in mind as the one who ran before you and is now waiting for you to cross the finish line. Now, if you believe and are baptized, you are in the race, but finishing the race requires the endurance of faith. More
Obedient to God’s command, Abraham took his son up the mountain to sacrifice him to the Lord. But God spared the child’s life, and his parents untold grief. More
Our lives are in the Lord’s hands. He has prepared a better place for us, a heavenly city, an excelling country. It was so for Abraham who with Sarah was made to wait in faith on God’s promise. More
There is one thing that pleases God: faith in him—faith in his existence and faith in his grace. Abel brought an offering to the Lord, having faith in God instead of a confidence in his offering, and so, his offering was acceptable or pleasing. More
Baptism is something God does to and for us. It is not our offering to God, as though God is a theatergoer soothed by our performance. It is not something we do in order to appease God. More
The promise of God is for all people. Circumcision was a signal that there is something greater than the shedding of human blood. We are meant to look to something far greater. More
It is clear that the three disciples had yet to full awaken spiritually since they seemed to credit all three who appeared in glory as equal. More
All our sins are drowned in Christian baptism, for the “old man” was buried with Christ in his death (Rom 6:3). At first blush, this hardly seems fair. More
Do we give up in our praying? Or do we persist and see the Lord’s will displayed in power and glory? Abram prayed and prayed, his petitions buttressed by Sarai’s pleas to the Lord for a child. More
Go ahead; try to read it again. Do not skim over it; read it aloud; struggle to pronounce the words and their meaning will come to you (especially of you have spent much time in the King James Bible, for it owes much to Wyclif’s text). More
“I don’t believe it!” This is a common enough saying but in connection with the Lord’s promises, one is aghast that someone would doubt—especially one of the Apostles. More
“Thy will be done.” We may pray this, meaning, “Please, Lord, do my will. Make my will your own.” Instead, our weekly, if not daily, prayer must also be a confession to ourselves that it is God’s will that must be done. More
God has made believers a kingdom of priests (Isa 61:6; Exod 19:6; 1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6). Priests are the ones who receive the tithe from subordinates, as Melchizedek did from Abraham. More
Who has commanded us to pray in the manner of the Lord’s Prayer than God himself? And whose name, whose reputation, is higher than God’s. No one’s name is greater, so we may pray with confidence. More
Christ has redeemed everything we might consider corrupt, so the flesh, though it undergo decay or be consumed by fire, will be raised by the power of God. More
It is important for us to distinguish between the two kingdoms—the kingdom of God and worldly kingdoms. Both Church and State are under God’s authority but they serve different ends. More
Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions urge us to be not only wary of false teachers and ministers, but to have nothing to do with them. More
Is there anything more evil than the human heart? “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” More
The ancient Hebrews were being led out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and into a land of rest—a place where they would no longer be in bondage. More
Sin is lurking in our doorways every day. Therefore, we must be certain it does not to rule over us. The idea here is not that Cain, and we too, somehow work hard enough to stop sinning. More
Jesus, sinless and therefore perfect in our minds, was nevertheless perfected through his suffering on the cross. Because of this perfecting, God designated his Son as our great High Priest. More
Life, and with it rescue from all evil, comes through the Living Word. Everlasting life comes only through him who is the life and light of humanity, when each person receives him by believing in him. More
Do not be tempted to believe the claims others make about what you need to do in order to be saved. Instead, hang on with faith in what Christ did for you. More
Temptations come in different forms. Typically, we think of them as being interior, compulsions of the mind or heart. But temptations are exterior as well, sometimes coming from the persuasive speeches of false preachers, or even friends and family. More
How are we to be protected from the devil, or from the world, or even from our own corrupt nature? Can we provide our own protection? Are we able to purchase it with our deeds or those of someone else with the same debased disposition? More
It is tempting to merely ask God to deliver us from urges to rebel against authorities, to hurt someone, commit adultery, steal, lie, or desire what belongs to others. More
In eternity, the righteous will shine like the sun (Matt 13:43); but, I wonder, why should we wait for eternity? Let us burn brightly now. I know; I know. You ask, How can I, a poor sinner, blaze with such glory? More
It is our Christian duty to absolve one another (Matt 6:14–15; John 20:23; James 5:16), as Christ has forgiven us. Before we come to his table, we must graciously extend his peace to all. More
The unity of the church begins and ends with God. Her unity is the Spirit’s work—not yours or mine. Christ’s Spirit unites the church. More
We are not forsaken, for we have a righteous deliverer, riding in on the horse of a champion and conqueror. The war he wages is cosmic, a battle with death itself. More
Where I come from, it is illegal for drivers to make a turn without signaling. You may receive a ticket for failing to turn on that blinker. More
One may believe in Christ, a sort of historical or even biblical knowledge of him, but still, not believe on him. Believing in him may require nothing more than one would by believing in anyone or anything else. More
When we pray for our daily bread, we are only asking for what God has already promised. We confess this in the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed. More
From the early days of the church, there was concern for both spiritual and physical needs. When believers are hungry, the church must feed them. When they are thirsty, the church must provide them drink. More
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. More
Our unbelief will not change the will of God. Everything he has resolved will come to pass in its season—whether we believe it will or not. More
It was the will of the Father that his Son, the perfect Lamb of God, be born, suffer and die, and be buried, raised, and ascended to glory. More
We were created as temporal beings; we exist within time. Therefore, we must learn patience. Patience is a virtue because it is so necessary and because it is God’s will. More
We have seen the open door of the gospel (Rev 3:8) but here is a door opened to heaven, so that John may see into the realm of the divine and be assured that God’s will is being done on earth. More
It is God’s will that we find our satisfaction in him. When we are content with our deeds and religious devotion, we may feel satisfied but our attitude is bile in the throat of the Almighty. Tepid religiosity is a faith killer. More
Who can shut the open door of the Gospel’s invitation to faith in Christ? It is God’s will that we are strengthened to keep the faith, to remain steadfast in his Word. More
What does love desire? A large, fine house? A car with a big red bow atop it on Christmas morning? Diamonds? Dinner and a movie every week? Each is more absurd than the next. Anyone who has ever been in love knows the supreme gift is one’s heart. Giving oneself to their true love is the highest measure of love. So, what would it be that the church’s true love, Christ Jesus, would require of us bu More
We are to fear God rather than the things of this life. Suffering, even great suffering, may be our lot, yet it is only for the space of time. A Day is coming when time is undone, and with it all the tribulation of this life. More
A video was aired on a popular television program, showing a pastor baptizing a young boy. The pastor’s style was to scoop a small amount of water into his hand and as with a shell to pour water three times onto the child’s head. More
The fear, love, and trust of God both bids us do his will and gives us the power to do so. And what is God’s greatest command than that we love him above all others, and our neighbors as ourselves? More
Being a citizen of the Father’s kingdom does not exempt us from trials and distress while we still have a foot in this world. John was imprisoned on Patmos; each of us may have our own exiles. More
We have no beasts to sacrifice, yet we are priests to our God. We have no temple where the people come to our services, for we are all priests to our God. We have no special, ornate garments, as in baptism we have been clothed in Christ. More
Our faith, which leads to salvation, is held or observed in common. What is our common faith if not summarized in this word: that Jesus delivered us from bondage? More
How may we hallow God’s name but to believe his Word and act accordingly? This old world will not be around forever, and we even less time. All of creation awaits its destruction. More
The future is unknown, so I better put more money in my retirement fund. I would have less anxiety if I could just get a better paying job. Can the government do more for me? More
Everything belongs to the Father, and in him all creation holds together (Col 1:17). Is he then, unable to grant your prayers? Indeed, there is a so-called power that holds back the hand of God. More
Consider your worth. Your own merit, that which is yours through your own deeds and religious devotion, is of course, relatively worthless. This does not give you any standing with God. More
On the last day, the Lord will return. These lengthening days of darkness will be no more, for the Lamb will be our light. We will have no concern for the heat of day, or cold, nor any interest in weather at all. More
Oh, the wonder of faith in Jesus Christ! It is faith in God that makes a saint, and saints make the church, which has the Lord Jesus Christ as her Head. More
Within the communion of the Christian church there is the true faith that receives the free gift of Christ Jesus. There, in that Body, the Head forgives; and he forgives abundantly, as there is full redemption in his blood. More
We may think of this calling of the Spirit as a solitary affair, as though the Spirit says, “You there, come and follow Christ.” And so he does call each one of us, but we follow Christ together. More
Jesus still calls. He beckons us to come to him from out of the darkness. Jesus calls us from the darkness of dependence upon anything but himself. More
If you have ever been on a boat in a bad storm, you know the helplessness of the situation. The closest many of us have come to this nautical nightmare is driving down an Interstate highway when a blinding rainstorm seems to come out of nowhere. More
C. S. Lewis reminds us, “The Church will outlive the universe.” (The Weight of Glory) One day, when days are no longer counted, every member of the Body will be called together and joined with the Head of the Body who is Christ. More
Do not give up hope about the church. God’s Spirit is still calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying his people. In doing so, he unites the whole Christian church on earth with Christ. More
The great heresy today is one shared long ago by Pelagius. That Celtic theologian, fueled perhaps by an excessively strong Irish individualism, relied not on the sacrifice or resurrection of Jesus but... More
God does not leave you alone in your struggles to live up to being created in his image. He gave you his example, his Spirit, and his Word. More
When reading the story of Jacob and his wives, one would have to conclude that they were not quite walking in full light. More
Frightful things are looming. Judgment is coming. “But rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Though God’s judgment on each person is approaching, there is hope for those who believe in Christ. More
“I can’t stop sinning!” he complained to the pastor. “I keep asking God to help me but he doesn’t.” But God has indeed helped. More
The Holy Spirit sanctifies me; I do not sanctify myself. He consecrates me by giving me what I need for what he expects of me, and by forgiving me every moment of the day for my various sins... More
I do not believe in God by way of my reason, decision, determination, or strength. I come to God through God. It would be quite impossible to come to God by way of my own understanding. More
Jesus made a promise to all people that he would give eternal life to whomever would believe in him. We who confess the Apostles’ Creed believe in Christ Jesus. More
We believe that God will raise our earthly bodies, just as Jesus was resurrected. Our humble bodies will be transformed to be like Christ’s in glory. More
The forgiveness of sins is available because we admit our condition, the need of a Savior, and the truth that the Father sent his Son into the world to accomplish this very thing once and for all (Heb 10:10). More
We believe in the forgiveness of sins. Pardon does not come by once being forgiven and then no longer sinning. The forgiveness of sins comes to us for his name’s sake, in other words, through the name of Christ. More
“I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian,” he told me. Then he added, “The Bible doesn’t say I have to go to church.” I was so informed by a police officer in the process of a raid on a house. More
What is this holy catholic church? Let us look to the defining words; and let us do so in reverse order, allowing the descriptive words to address the direct object. What is the church? More
Christians believe that the Lord our God is one God yet three persons, or Trinity. We have named the first two persons of the Trinity who is God. More
If we agree with Luther’s teaching on the third article of the Creed, we are acknowledging that we cannot climb our way to God. We are conceding that we cannot even believe in God without the Holy Spirit’s assistance. More
Jesus did not leave his disciples alone when he ascended. Nor are we alone today; he has given us the same Spirit, his own Spirit, “the Spirit of Christ.” More
We come now to Luther’s teaching on what good it is to know this second article of the Apostles’ Creed. These benefits include the confident hope of redemption, freedom, inclusion, eternal life. More
The Father has appointed Christ alone to judge the world—both the living and all who ever lived. Christ must be the judge of the living and the dead because he is the only one appropriate to the task. More
Being at the right hand of the Father means that Christ Jesus is seated on the throne of all thrones. He has power and authority which excels all others. More
Jesus ascended; he was raised to the Father's side in heaven so that he may share in the fullness of divinity (Phil 2:9). He is not simply God, nor only a man; Jesus is now God in the flesh, seated at the Father's right hand. More
We cannot live with Jesus in eternity if he is not there. If God’s Christ is still dead and buried in the ground, we cannot live with him in heaven—nor can we live there without him. More
In reference to yesterday's lesson on Christ Jesus preaching to those spirits in prison, many people want to know who these spirits are and what this prison is exactly. It is enough to know the universality of Christ's sovereignty. More
It is a mystery to me why people want to get rid of the word "hell" in the Apostles' Creed. Are they afraid Christ Jesus cannot handle the place of the damned? More
From the Confessions: “And Buried." The way you know a person is really dead, is if he ends up getting buried. Jesus died. That is why they buried him. More
In order to emphasize the fact of Jesus’ death, the creed states that he was buried. Burial is necessary for those who are truly human and have died. In other words, Jesus was not an apparition; he was a man who had actually died. More
Did Jesus really die? If he is God, can God die? Some say that he did not actually die. It is called the “swoon theory,” meaning Jesus only fainted on the cross, was presumed dead, then carried off to his grave. More
Why did God come to earth in human flesh? Why lower himself to such a level (if it really is such a low level)? God did so because love made him do it. More
Jesus, innocent man and holy God, was condemned to suffer the cruelest death the Romans had at their disposal. He would be crucified. His crucifixion was mere expedience in Pilate’s mind. More
Even in the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary we see that human works had no play. Mary did nothing. Joseph surely did nothing. The poor man was very likely stunned at the news... More
Jesus was born of the virgin named Mary but he was conceived by God. The Holy Spirit was the fathering agent, therefore the holy child was of two natures: divine and human. Jesus was born in “the likeness of men," that is, he is similar to a man. More
We moderns, especially in Western cultures, tend to speak of the heart as being an emotional vessel. In the consideration of the ancient Hebrews, the heart was the seat of thought and will, as well as emotion. More
As Jesus is master over life and death, so he is Lord of all things in life and death. He is God over all creation: in heaven, on earth, and even under the earth. More
Thomas, the perennial doubter, at seeing his crucified rabbi alive and standing before him, confessed what John had related at the beginning of his Gospel. More
As Abraham did not spare his own Son when God commanded it of him, God did not spare his own Son when his will demanded it of himself. Through this precious, only Son, he has redeemed the creation he loves. More
Just as God settled among his people in the Old Testament, God now “tabernacles” among those who believe. He does so through his Son, Christ Jesus, who is the exact image of God. More
Sometimes the Old Testament speaks of the king as an anointed one, a person on whom God’s blessing rests. A priest would pour a flask of oil over the king’s head as a symbol that God had anointed him king. More
The name “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew “Joshua” (which later morphed into “Jeshua”) which means “the Lord saves.” More
“This is most certainly true!” declares Luther. “What is truth?” responds Pilate. The Truth was standing right in front of him, and he dismissed him as though truth were too difficult to nail down. More
God has given us all we need for life. More than that, he has made himself our home. Paul puts it this way: “In him we live and move and have our being.” More
We confess that God is the creator of it all. In the beginning, he made the skies and the land, the heavens and the earth, and by this we mean to say, the universe—everything. More
When we confess that God is almighty, we are saying something more than that he is strong. This confession also declares that what is impossible with people is possible with God. More
We believe in God as our Father. He is a good Father, having provided all we need in this life. But he is more than a dispenser of goods. More
When we say that we believe in God, we mean the Lord God named by God’s Redeemer in Matthew 28:19. Jesus gave the “name” of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. More
The English word “creed” comes from the Latin credo, which means, “I believe.” A creed is a statement of what one gives credence to, finds credible. More
We are saved from sin and death through faith in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, sin is not a thing of the past; it is a present reality. Though we pray, “thy will be done,” and we know, even have memorized, the commandments, we cannot keep them. More
Pointing toward my stomach, the doctor said that I needed to lose my little friend. I asked, “What, about 20 pounds.” She dryly replied, “More like 30 to 40.” More
This may not be that hard to imagine. Think of the family dinner table with parents and children gathered for the evening meal. Now picture the children glued to their phones. More
Verse five from the Word today can be a troubling verse, especially if you read the NIV. In that version, it reads: “punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” More
It does not matter how hard you try to be good; you are a sinner. You were born in sin, and as long as you are in this body, you will be a sinner; and you will sin. More
When the law crushes us with its demands, as it did the lawyer in today’s Scripture, what are we to do but plead for mercy? Just when we imagine that we might have become experts in religion... More
All the Commandments are rooted in the First, or as it quickly came to be understood: the greatest or most important commandment (Matt 22:36–40). More
God’s jealousy over us is ready to ignite. The word for fire in the Latin Vulgate is ignis, from which we get our English word “ignite.” More
As you find more and more joyful satisfaction, even sheer delight, in God’s company, you will find your heart desiring godly things. More
You await nothing. There is no greater cause, no finer moment, no more wondrous event, no fuller teaching. Jesus is the One. He is the Only One. More
The old real estate expression, “Location, location, location,” might be modified when it comes to reading. “Context, context, context,” is crucial when interpreting a text. More
We should fear and love God so that we do not make plans to steal anything or anyone that belongs to our neighbors. Indeed, we should so fear and love God that we do not even consider such a thing. More
The Ninth Commandment deals with craving your neighbor’s goods, those inanimate possessions of your neighbor. The Tenth Commandment speaks about lusting after living things that are your neighbor’s, whether family or not—indeed, human or not. More
The example of Christ instructs us to serve one another. Because of his love, alive within us through the Holy Spirit, we look for opportunities to care for our neighbors, instead of seeking a chance to steal their property. More
If we trust God, we are able to be interested in more than ourselves. God will take care of us, so we are freed up to take care of others. More
What can you do with those who cannot or will not hear? If they will not listen, as reasonable people make a point to do, how will they be able to obey God’s Word? More
The fear and love of God ought to constrain us from taking the property of others. The trust of God should make us content with what we have. More
There may be little worse than carrying a grudge. It lessens the life of the person holding the grudge, as well as the one for whom the grudge is held. More
We should fear God in such a way that we do not use violence to enforce his will. That is God’s prerogative. Christians are not to avenge themselves. More
Paul exhorts the young pastor to devote himself to three practices in his ministry: being sure that the Scriptures are read in services of worship, and preaching and teaching the Word of God. More
The gospel of God’s grace through Christ was snubbed as something “Lutheran” in the 16th century. In the 21st century, other gospels persist in churches. More
How long would you expect people to stay at a party where the host walks around complaining about the party guests? When entertaining, one is considerate of the guests, shows interest in their lives, and even their opinions. More
What if God did not think the best of us? We would be hopeless. If each time he looked at us, he thought of us as irredeemable, each time he heard us, he considered us deplorable... More
In the strictest sense, we should not lie to or about our Christian brothers and sisters. No honorable reason denies this charity to all others. More
Are you content with God? Do you trust him? Do you fear him, love him? For the one who is content with God, there is no need of anything more, no need to steal from another. More
Being a pastor or missionary is not a free ticket to heaven. While the work that such people do is important to the kingdom of Christ, it is only faith in Christ that opens the gates of heaven. More
We must read the Bible with the eyes of faith, instead of allowing feelings to interpret Scripture. Too often, passages like today’s verse leave us with a sense of guilt. More
Everyone plays a part. If that part is neglected it diminishes the whole. The rest must pick up the slack, and carry the burden of feeling as though they must take care of those who refuse labor. More
Our Scripture reference today was originally written about Jehoiakim, king of Judah from 609 to 598 BC. He made his citizens build his palace but did not pay them. More
Again, the keeping of the commandments begins with the fear and love of God. Nevertheless, we cannot perfectly keep this Sixth Commandment any more than we can perfectly love God. More
The force of the Sixth Commandment may be understood in one version of the ring vows: “with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.” More
Paul urges the Corinthians to flee from sexual sin. This would include fornication and adultery, to name a few. One flees something by running away. More
Paul teaches us to disregard the false teachers in our lives, those who would hold any religious thing, any material or earthly thing, over our heads. More
It is helpful to remember that you are baptized. In Christian baptism, Christ removed your sin, though that old nature would still rear its evil head in this life. More
We tend to consider the Sixth Commandment only in terms of sex. Yet, unfaithfulness to one’s spouse—whether human or divine—begins in the heart. More
The Song of Solomon has many beautiful images, perhaps none so striking as Song of Solomon 2:4. “He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” (Song 2:4 NASB). More
Breaking the marriage covenant is not simply a physical matter. Adultery begins in the heart, with lust and intention or will. Jesus teaches us that it is possible to commit adultery mentally, in the deepest way: in the heart, as we say. More
It is vital that Christians honor the marriage bed, especially when culture plays fast and loose with the Sixth Commandment. We must make it an emphasis because our consciences are impaired... More
The sexually immoral person is an idol worshiper. The one who covets a neighbor’s spouse or anything else in that person’s household, is essentially, as the King James Version puts it, a whoremonger... More
It has always been easy to have a polluted heart; indeed, we are born with such hearts, and are bent on folly. Consider David, who from a rooftop, looked upon Bathsheba with evil in his heart. More
The Sixth Commandment is worded in the negative, but we readily perceive that “thou shalt not” (Exod 20:14 KJV) implies we must also do something. More
We live in a time that is sometimes lamented as a post-Christian era in the United States. Complaints range from social media shutting out anything Christian, to the public square no longer allowing the church a voice. More
The temptation is to lash out, to retaliate, to pay back. But that is not Jesus’ way, though he was tempted. When he was criticized and even beaten, Jesus could have called down legions of angels... More
The greatest need our neighbors have, whether they know it or not, is emotional. We must not cause them any anguish, as it is ongoing, causing stress that mounts on stress, a daily trauma to be withstood. More
Followers of Christ do not carry their anger with them day after day, nor are they to act on their anger in a way that wounds another, especially those “of the household of faith.” More
In case you think Luther takes his explanation of the Fifth Commandment too far, consider Jesus. The catechism explains not killing in terms of fighting and of being a caring friend to our neighbors. More
The motivation for taking care of our neighbor, including our enemies, is the fear and love of God. We help others because we understand our own need of assistance. More
The faith is not about religious practice alone; it is not even just about God. Our devotion to God is most keenly observed, not in our worship and service, as much as God cherishes these acts, but in the love of our neighbor. More
A mountain seems to stand steadfastly—until the plates far beneath the surface shift. Not murdering someone seems simpler to pull off than not saying something nasty. More
Leave it to God. It may sting your sense of honor if you do not avenge your dignity. But the honor belongs to the Lord anyway, and your own honor depends upon God. More
It is difficult to like some people. They may differ politically, religiously, culturally; they may be better off than you are and even flaunt it; they may be downright nasty. More
Be careful that you do not imagine yourself exempt from bothering with the Fifth Commandment. You may say that you have never murdered anyone. Think again. More
Human life is precious to the Lord. It does not matter whether that life is another’s life or one’s own, whether that life is nascent or full-formed. It is life; and it is life in God’s image. More
It is an instinct that goes all the way back to Cain: we imagine that we may solve our personal problems with violence, and if necessary, the final violence of death. More
God has placed additional people in authority over us. We are to honor our parents above all others, second only to God, but the Scripture and the Catechism teach us to honor other authorities too. More
Of all people, Jesus might have insisted on being right when confronted with his parents’ demands upon him. Yet, he was obedient and submissive to them. More
They took a photograph of the men at church yesterday, in honor of Fathers’ Day. It was a collection of hoary-headed fellows. More
This is an index or table of contents of the none lessons based on The Athanasian Creed — an Overview and "Whole and Inviolable,” "Trinity in Unity," "Compulsion" "Addressing Heresies," "Equal and Subordinate," "One Christ," "Likewise," and "Standing on Your Own Feet." More
He was sitting in line at the drive-through of a local hamburger restaurant, waiting three cars back. Suddenly, he backed up a few feet, almost hitting the car behind him... More
God has set others over you, besides your parents. They too, are in their positions for your benefit. Before we move on to civil authorities, let us consider a few others. More
Honoring parents is not the privilege of young children alone. Children who still live at home with their parents are of course, expected to love them, be obedient, and esteem them as blessed gifts of God. More
God expects us to behave for our parents the way we would act in his presence. Therefore, we are to obey our parents as we would obey God: without complaining or asking why. More
Our parents are God’s agents to and for us. They are meant to be his blessed envoys, graciously given to us by God so that we may begin our education in the catechism. More
Even Jesus honored his parents with submissive behavior. This pleased his mother, and it pleases the Father when we follow the Lord’s example by being obedient to our parents. More
They say that imitation is the sincerest or best form of flattery. That must be very true for parents. It is satisfying and rewarding when children reproduce their parents’ good character and conduct. More
It is curious that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit happened quite suddenly, even surprisingly, and at a point when the little Church was in one accord. More
God’s promise to be a Father to us demonstrates the importance he places on the role of parenting. It is the first commandment on the second tablet... More
Seems right; if I did not respect my dad, he might have killed me! When he got out that paddle, I had cause to wonder. However, this is hardly what the Fourth Commandment means. More
Too often the Spirit is viewed as a tool or power. In fact, many believers refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it.” This is far from the truth. More
We are to honor our parents. One of the ways that is done is by respecting, obeying, serving, and otherwise loving them throughout our shared days. More
The commandment to love our neighbor begins at home. We are to love others as we love ourselves—not just loving those closest to us. More
The principal way one honors their parents is to care for them in their old age, when they cannot take care of themselves anymore. More
The Sabbath of the old covenant observed God’s completion of creation. The Sabbath of the new covenant celebrates recreation—that people are recreated, or born again, through faith in Christ. More
What do you depend upon for religious education, for correction or downright reprimand, and for training in virtue? What is it that governs your maturity in the Christian faith? Your opinions? TV shows? Newspapers? Social media? More
The reading of Scripture to the congregation is vital. Indeed, the use of Scripture throughout the liturgy is central to our worship. But why is this the case? More
Faith comes through the proclaimed word of Christ Jesus, the message of the gospel. It is the good news because salvation comes by no other name. More
It is the Word of God received in faith that makes one holy. The preaching of that Word is vital, whether it is a lector reading the Word aloud, a pastor proclaiming it from a pulpit, or the Holy Spirit speaking through a printed Bible or app. More
When we gather around the Word of God, we are separated from the world for a while. For the moment, we are devoted only to God. This is one major way that we keep the Third Commandment. More
But the Sabbath is a Saturday, not a Sunday, you may argue. Yes, the Jewish Sabbath was Saturday; actually, it was Friday evening until Saturday evening. More
The Sabbath is a day of rest, a miniature holiday or holyday. This day of rest is to be kept because God not only commanded it, he observed it. More
“But I have always done it this way!” Nevertheless, now it is time to listen to how the Lord wants things done. More
Worship is always the correct attitude. If your conscience, the law, or the devil accuse you of sin, the right response is worship. Do not hide from God, as if you could. More
Let us be clear. God will not hold guiltless the one who takes his name in vain. Yet, the one who calls upon his name in sorrow over that sin will be forgiven. More
It is easy to notice the faults of others. For example, you will hear God’s name used wrongly—whether as an outright expletive or by swearing by it to gain another’s trust. More
“God told me.” When people say this, they are taking the Lord’s name in vain. They say, “God told me to do this,” so that no one will be able to disagree with them. More
So, we see that taking the Lord’s name vainly does not only break the Second Commandment; it also breaks the First Commandment. For taking the Lord’s name in vain demonstrates a lack of fear, love, and trust in God above all things. More
Why does one need to lie or otherwise deceive in order to receive some necessary thing? God knows what you need, so ask your heavenly Father, and he will provide the needs of the day. More
The Second Commandment deals with far more than using a specific word or words. If you are a Christian, then all you say and do is said and done in the name of God. More
Too much talk can lead to grand statements, to bragging backed up with oaths. Be content with silence, for the whisper of God may be heard there. More
The best way to use God’s name properly is in prayer, and the best prayer is the one Jesus taught us. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray that the Father’s name will be hallowed, or “holied.” More
Sola has an edition of the Small Catechism that is useful in outreach. Some churches give "The Basics of the Christian Faith" to their visitors, or have copies in the pews for people to take home with them. Other churches use it in new members' packets. I take a copy to first-time visitors. In follow-up visits, I refer to "that booklet" so that the conversation ends up being a Bible ... More
We are to use God’s name properly. Because we trust God, we may believe that he will take care of us. Therefore, we do not need to resort to deceitful practices of any sort in order to have our needs met by the Father. More
There are things that people fear, love, and trust above God. People may fear illness, suffering, and death above God. The result can be slavish devotion to fitness or to doctors and medicine. More
Keeping the Ten Commandments is not something that we must do in order to be saved. God does not forgive us because we keep the rules. More
While the effects of sin may linger a while, the steadfast love of God endures forever. That is the idea in the idiom: “a thousand generations.” It is like saying, “a million years.” More
The Scripture teaches us that children do not pay for the sins of their parents (Ezek 18:20). Nevertheless, they often suffer the consequences. The bad choices we make affect others. More
The effects of sin linger. I look at my own parents’ sins every day, as so many are alive in me. I learned those sins from them but they are my sins. More
The Hebrew word typically translated as “jealous” in Exodus 20:5 can mean zealous, passionate, even outraged—or simply protective. Luther translated it as “zealous” (eifriger) but the major English translations all read “jealous.” More
The idea of serving idols (“or serve them”) in verse five is specific to bringing them the service of worship. The NIV translates it so. More
Imagine that those who are made in the image of the Almighty God (Gen 1:26) would bow down to figurines of human invention. Ludicrous! More
If you knew what God looked like (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12) and made an image of that likeness, would you be able to fear the image? I suppose you could, but it would be irrational to do so. More
The command to have no other gods is packed with things to consider. Having another god means to own the god, as one could an idol. But we cannot own Yahweh, in that sense, unless we try to make him into an image that we would worship instead of Yahweh himself. More
You may initially counter that God did not bring you out of Egypt. It was the Hebrew people whom God led out of slavery to pharaohs. They were enslaved for over four centuries in Egypt, waiting for God to send Moses to lead them out. More
Exodus 20:2 does not simply say, “I am the Lord God.” It reads, “I am the Lord your God.” Without God revealing himself to the people of Israel, he may have been any deity, any one of the gods of the land. More
Exodus 20:2 does not simply say, “I am the Lord God.” It reads, “I am the Lord your God.” Without God revealing himself to the people of Israel, he may have been any deity, any one of the gods of the land. More
The commandments bring God to the forefront of our hearts and minds; the actual commandments seem almost secondary. They are commanded because of the nature of God. More
The commandments begin with a brief foreword that is the condition for the words to follow. Why should we do and not do these certain things? What is the condition for our obedience? God said so. Frankly, we need no more reason than this one precedent: God is the one who makes the command. This is not dissimilar to what we heard from our parents, or what we may have said to our own children. When More
Gratitude from the world? Too often, it seems like there is not much gratitude even from the church. That is a reason why a minister’s sufficiency must come from God. More
The primary task of ministers is two-fold. First, they must teach the law so that people understand they are sinners in danger of God’s judgment. More
We have no life in ourselves. Nevertheless, our old, inborn natures want to keep trying to live. Though drowned and buried with Christ in baptism, we must be reassured of our death. More
Some people think of Holy Communion as a sort of magic act: a specific incantation recited by an approved class of people. Others think of it as a legal act, something one must do in order to be right with God. More
It is clear Luther consider the catechism part of the wider education of children. Further, he believed the catechism could instill in them a heart to serve both church and community. More
One more verse in today’s Scripture, it reads, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Pro 1:7). More
You will find different areas of emphasis in your ministry—whether it be a commandment, article, petition, or Sacrament that needs stressed in the lives of your flock, or in your own life. More
It is inconceivable that a person would say of the one she loves, I’ve had enough of him; it’s time for a new stage of life. More
God’s word opens the door of the mind. Yet it does far more since it is not merely that which opens, but is itself the gateway to a person’s spirit. More
Too often, we hear something along this line: We have decided to let our children make up their own minds. All the while, the rest of the world has free access to the minds of these same children. More
The point here is that our people are to take the catechism seriously. But why?, one might object. It’s only some program Luther invented. More
What does it mean to “impress” the word of God on your heart and soul but to memorize Scripture? Other translations use “place,” “deposit,” “lay up,” and “fix.” More
What a privilege we have been afforded, that God would entrust to his church the training of young disciples. Like Jesus, we might say to any child or youth, “Follow me.” More
Walking to elementary school, I would stop by Chris’ house so we could walk together. Many mornings I had to wait for him to finish writing the 50 states and their capitals on yellow, lined paper. More
Our culinary palates may develop, given experience, but the basics remain the same. The food groups used to make exotic dishes are the same as simple dishes. More
This is a charge that may be leveled at all pastors, not merely bishops. How can pastors avoid God’s disapproval (to put it mildly) of neglecting their calls? More
Here is a collection of wallpaper graphics. Use them here to memorize the Ten Commandments. More
Luther visited the parishes of Saxony and Meissen from October 22, 1528, through January 9, 1529. Years before this visitation, he had spoken of writing a catechism for the instruction of children. More
There is something more to these articles than doctrine; there is an attitude expressed at number 32 below that would serve the Church of Christ well. More
It is bad enough when the person outside the church swindles people so that he may live in excess. When leaders of the church of God do this to the very ones whom the Lord has called them to serve, it is nothing short of an obscene blotch on the character of the whole church. More
Those who oversee the affairs of the church are not to be loathed because of their office, whether it be called overseer, bishop, president, or otherwise. More
Scripture provides abundant comfort and assistance on the specific subject as well as on general topics that are helpful to a marriage. More
While pastors should be concerned that the Word of God is upheld in the church, they should do so only from the position of the Word’s authority. Otherwise, they have no authority. More
You may worship him in Zion or by the pillar of the camp or at his footstool or on the holy mountain or on the Mercy Seat itself! More
It is God himself who provides that further shore of salvation. Indeed, he is the shore. You must rise up and go! More
David was called to be the king of Israel yet was consigned to the wilderness instead of a palace, running from the present king and the whole army. More
He was convinced that he was no good because he could not keep the commandments of God perfectly. He did well most days but then fell down sometimes. More
Psalm 32:1-11 From the Reformer David, after enduring long and dreadful torments, when God was severely trying him, by showing him the tokens of his wrath, having at length obtained favor, applies this evidence of the divine goodness for his own benefit, and the benefit of the whole Church, that from it he may teach himself and them what constitutes the chief point of salvation. All men must necessarily be either in miserable ... More
The local bank began offering 5% interest on checking accounts. Many certificates of deposit do not offer that much. You would have to be crazy not to switch to a bank that offered such earning potential on a checking account. More
You are a sinner, besieged with temptation. The weight of it worries you. Perhaps, you wonder, it is not well with your soul. Let go of it; give it to God. Take a breath; calm down and pray. More
When the institutional church acts like the world system, there is only one answer: faith in Christ—complete trust in the truth of his gospel. Christ alone will see you through. More
The story of Haman in the Old Testament book of Esther may not be as well known as it should be. Haman was that sort of dishonorable civil official who purchases position and favor. More
If anyone does not obey the apostolic word, it is the responsibility of pastors to offer a biblical corrective to that sister or brother —even if that correction goes so far as terminating church ties with those who are not faithful More
Beware of bishops, pastors, and elders who busy themselves with duties that range often from the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Even in the overseer’s duty of ordination, this ministry of the office is celebrated... More
If bishops are apostatic, or will not ordain gifted, confessional people, the churches must ordain their own pastors. More
The saying reads, “God is not who you think he is; he is who he says he is.” As goes with the person of God, so it goes with doctrine: it is revealed in his Word. More
Everyone of faith in Christ is a priest of God. The church is that “holy nation” Peter means when he speaks of God’s people. From that chosen race, God calls each to a certain vocation. More
The keys belong to Christ and are used in his name and in his presence. Therefore, one cannot insist upon this or that, without the authority and presence of Christ. More
The Augsburg Confession declares that the church is the gathering of saints where the gospel is purely taught and the sacraments are properly administered (Article VII). More
It is Christ Jesus who sends out his ministers. While this is certainly ratified in the church and through the laying on of hands, let us be careful that we do not presume too much for ourselves. More
Here is the distinguishing labor of all ministers (shepherds) of the gospel: take care of the flock. But how is this accomplished? More
The role of bishop is not one of rule and rule making. Rather, a bishop works to hold the church together around the Word. As such, a bishop must ordain new pastors so that the Word will be preached. More
Congregations—and pastors too—often heap more onto the job description of a pastor than is often required, or even good for the church. More
We will have disagreement over some matters in the church. Nonetheless, we must never have disagreement about that which is basic. More
“That pastor caused such division when he led all those churches out of our denomination.” I heard this statement a couple of years ago while visiting an out-of-state church. More
Though no one but Christ is head of the church, there remain bishops, pastors, priests, Council presidents, and others in positions of leadership. Be sure they keep the Word of God. More
If a leader makes decisions that are firmly settled in Scripture, there would at least be the counsel of the Word and the Spirit. Most of the church would be glad of such wise guidance. More
Thank God the days are gone when oaths had to be sworn to churchmen. The Christian must be bound to no one but God. The Christian conscience must be captive only to the Word of God. More
How is a guilty conscience to be healed but through the proper instruction of Christianity? Correct teaching about forgiveness of sin would itself, work wonders in the life of a congregation, a synod, a nation. More
Even the power of God is seen most clearly in the true teaching of the First Article. Divine power is observed more clearly in salvation through faith in Christ than in any other way. More
The Office of the Keys does not refer to imposing punishments but to absolution and withholding of the forgiveness of sins. More
Christ is not present when there is unilateral authority, as Christ himself is the authority. He has determined to exercise that divine authority in the quorum of at least two believers. More
John Hus wrote, “Teach, counsel, punish, console, remit, bear, pray.” Death is not on the list. It was not on Jesus’ list either. More
If our righteousness must excel that of the religious professionals and experts, then where is our hope? Well, if righteousness truly comes through good works, correct dogma, proper services, or acknowledged tradition, then there is no hope. More
We will not venture into the details; look to the newspapers for much of what Melancthon means by “shameful acts.” But what of the reason for the tradition of celibacy... More
Whenever one wonders if a doctrine is true or false, look to the chief article. Does a teaching conflict with the first article? If so, then the doctrine is false. More
Christians often sin; it is as natural as breathing. Yet, when Christians sin, they know it. The Holy Spirit makes them aware of their sin and the guilt of their unrighteousness. More
The more we aim at purer piety, stricter law-keeping, faithful penance, and more and greater good works, the more assured we become that we can do nothing against our corruption. More
We should not pray endlessly over our sins, thinking our devotion to naming each and every transgression is cause for God’s mercy. More
There is no hope for sinners who are denied true and complete faith in Christ. So long as they are cast back upon themselves, they are sunk—the lot of them. More
Just as the grace of God is freely given, so is the means of grace. The Sacraments are not for hire. They are freely given, as need dictates. Sinners require a liberal provision of God’s grace. More
The only peace that Christ came to bestow on this earth is the peace that is had through faith in him. Believe in Christ—in God’s salvation and forgiveness given only through such faith... More
The principal part of Christian doctrine is that we have faith in God, believing that he loved the world so much that he sent his Son to save us, forgiving all sin, justifying sinners, and saving them to eternal life only through faith in Christ. More
Whether it be Sargon II, Satan, or anyone else, no one is God but God. He alone is the Most High. Climb the ranks of the kingdoms of earth or invent your own kingdom, small or large; still you are not God. More
If one imagines that salvation comes in any other way than through faith in Christ, that one is an antichrist. If he proclaims that some deeds must be done, religious services performed, or anything be believed beyond that satisfaction who is Christ himself, then that person is opposed to Christ. More
The gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims that we are saved by God’s action—not by our own actions. A person may spend a lifetime going to church and doing good works, and actually be a truly decent neighbor, yet be hell bound. More
The Bible calls us to faith in Christ, to seek his kingdom and righteousness above all things. Anyone who puts himself over Christ or even beside him must be avoided More
The saving power of the gospel begins with faith and ends with faith. There are no hoops in between. Complicated or even impossible efforts, exercises, and rule following have no power to save. More
God rules the world with both left and right hands. The left-handed governance is the administrations of both state and church. If it has to do with the flesh, with property and daily life, it is likely the left hand at work in our lives. More
Christ has given his church a greater power than crowns, robes, and scepters. He has conferred spiritual not political power. Why would he give his disciples something as fleeting and hopeless as politics and government? More
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. More
The occupation of the disciple of Christ is one of going. The follower of Christ is always moving out, for Christ is always doing so. If the disciple is following Jesus, she is naturally going. More
All shepherds of the flock, each one a pastor of the gospel and bishop or overseer of their congregations, are commissioned with the charge to preach the Word. More
Churches would be better off if they focused on the Word in the pews, rather than the person in the pulpit. The one doing the teaching adds nothing to the Word or the office. More
Peter is addressed as a minister of the office in which this confession functions. The rock that the church is built upon is the preaching of Christ and other ministries that confess Jesus as the Son of God. More
Let us reason forward from Scripture, instead of proof-texting. Deciding the way things should be, then bending a verse to fit the invention does violence to God’s Word. More
The English language lacks the nuance of singular and plural voices when it comes to the word “you.” One must determine from context, or as in this case, look at the original language... More
Before considering Melancthon’s brief reply, allow me to repeat my earlier assertion. It is upon the bedrock confession of Peter that Christ builds his Church. More
The traditions about authority that have been handed down to us by the apostles are clear and simple. They teach us that as the Son obeyed the Father’s will, every man is to obey Christ’s will, and every wife be inclined to her husband. More
If we are all one in Christ, how can there be one over all? This is a human invention; primacy is not God’s way, for he is the head over all. More
Kingdoms divide and fall under the squabbling of a king’s children. Their infighting and scrabbling for power ruins a nation. Let us look to our King, and be content with his primacy and power. More
Who ruled the Church in the time of the apostles? Peter? James? Paul? You would be hard-pressed to decide by reading the Scriptures. That is for good reason; none of them was superior to the other. More
Here is the Church of Christ: those who make the good confession, who stir up love and good works in one another, and who meet together in Christ’s name until he returns. They have Jesus as their great priest. More
Whether or not we can trust Cyprian’s knowledge of traditions and observances of such distant memory is one thing. After all, he lived in the first half of the third Century. More
It has long been the practice that churches should be the ones who decide who their bishops will be. Appointments of bishops by a bishop begins the slippery slope to the primacy of one. More
It cannot be historically demonstrated that the Roman bishop should rule over all the churches. A wider-spread authority was conferred in the fourth century. Yet, even then, the Western bishop’s administration was shared with the Eastern bishop. More
Peter himself, with a pastoral application, removed any justification for primacy of one pastor or bishop over another, when he teaches ministers of the church to be a godly example instead of a domineering master. More
The office of the ministry depends upon the Word of God, not those who would rule over those called to preach. Those who seek to watch over the church should first be concerned with looking after themselves. More
No Christian is to have power over others, let alone more or less power. As the Word was sent into the world, we are sent into the world with the Word. More
There are orders in the Church of Christ, but not levels of superiority. A pastor who will not listen is a pastor to whom no one will listen. A bishop who lords the office over others will displease the Lord. More
This is not to say that Christianity is supposed to me some form of democracy. It is not, for we do have a supreme leader, a head over us all. More
If we wish to demonstrate that the pope—or anyone else, for that matter—cannot claim rule and power whatsoever over bishops, pastors, or laity either, then we had better have some authority behind our statement. More
It is bad enough that one Christian would claim to rule over others, since there are teachings of Jesus that say otherwise, let alone the example of his own servant leadership. More
Theologians gathered at Smalcald in 1537, to construct their response to the pope’s convening of a council. This paper, “The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope,” is the result of their gathering. More
The Word of God united with faith makes things holy. Human rituals, especially when devised to make money, have nothing to do with consecration. Baptism, for example, was instituted by God to join us to Christ’s death and resurrection, and is to be received by faith in God’s promises. More
Rely on the Word of God. Human traditions will compromise Scripture and cause you to stumble in your conscience. Worse, they will leave you with a sense of angst... More
If a ceremony or regulation denies the work of Christ, God’s grace, or his plan of redemption, then it is untrue, or to use a stronger term, heresy. If it is claimed that any religious tradition attains to the remission of sins—in whole or in part—it is heresy. More
Imagining that one’s deeds earn heaven is bad enough. The notion that one’s good deeds are more than enough for self, and that the overflow may be shared with others so that they gain heaven is blasphemous. More
It is critical that we understand what real faith is, and is not. Faith is not mere belief, for as James says, even demons believe in that sense. More
Faith is the passive receiver. It does not grab or make wild efforts that get in the way, as though flailing its limbs trying to grasp the unreachable. Faith does not seize; it simply receives what is given. More
The Church is the communion of saints, that blessed fellowship of those who believe in and are faithful to Jesus Christ. Her holiness is not a sanctity or purity of her own... More
I vaguely recall a Christmas when I was 16 or 17 years old and refused to open presents. Realizing how foolish and hurtful I was acting, I conceded by joining in the festivities More
If there are no bishops to ordain pastors, or if the bishops will not do so, it remains the Church’s responsibility to make sure new pastors are prepared, ordained, and called to serve congregations. More
Christ calls ministers of his Gospel. If an institution, tradition, or just plain poor management stands in the way of their placement, it is the Church’s responsibility to make a way for them. More
The greater excommunication or excommunicatio major was an ecclesiastical penalty that introduced civil and political restrictions as well as religious limitations. More
The Word of God sanctifies all whom it touches. This cleansing does not happen to people because they do holy things but instead, because the holy God has forgiven them of all their sin. More
You see how important, how central the Word must be to all doctrine. We dare not permit anyone to claim a special word from God. Let a person speak the external, revealed Word of God and be content. More
For all his devotion and good deeds, Cornelius was not spared from the wrath of God against sin. Though he feared God, he did not know him. He believed in a coming Savior but was not saved. More
That someone could believe in someone or something that they have never heard of is an absurd notion. How can anyone believe in Christ without having heard of him? More
The Word of God is the foundation of doctrinal authority. It is God’s agency of grace. Human reason cheats people out of his grace and turns them into true fanatics who rely on their own so-called insights instead of the conviction of Scripture. More
God gives us his Spirit, and an understanding of the things of the Spirit, through his Word. “God told me,” does not cut it. “It is written,” is the way of God’s people. Examples are in abundance. More
Within myself, I delight in God’s Word. But I cannot do it, much as I try. I am a sinner; that much I can confess. And more! For, though I cannot do what the Word tells me, I keep it and remain delighted by its promises. More
It is a means of grace to be reminded of what we know—or to be told and taught what we do not know yet. Therefore, the Gospel itself is a means of grace. More
How is this binding and loosing of sins accomplished? Does it occur because one has finally confessed the last sin? If so, how does one confess an unknown sin, a stray thought, a wayward and quickly forgotten glance or word, an unknown, undone deed? More
Take this bread; it is my body. That is straightforward talk that holds a mystery. You either believe what Jesus said, or you do not, or you add to his words so that they fit human reason. More
Who should the Church listen to: God or traditions? Christ or modern-day pharisees? The Holy Spirit or the teachings of the universities? God’s Word or church councils? More
“What did I tell you?” How many times have we heard that while growing up? Listening carefully, then doing what you were told is a staple of becoming a responsible adult. More
It all falls on faith, not tradition, or in the case of these two sentences in the Smalcald Articles, not on piety, personal holiness, or the faithfulness of the minister. More
Jesus said the kingdom of God belongs to children. Are they part of his kingdom because of their own goodness or efforts? No more than anyone is because of personal merit. More
The Church is made holy — completely so and without a single stain � because God says so in his Word. This is what we believe through faith in Christ. This washing is done without mystery or human explanation, by the simple agency of water and what God has spoken. More
Again, we see why repentance is so important. God is rich in mercy, forgiving sin but not absolving the "guilty." The guilty are those who will not own their sin, those who will not admit and confess all their sin. More
You now see why repentance is so necessary in the Christian life. In order for faith to remain, the Spirit must be within us. The Spirit does not continue where sin is present, where unrighteousness is permitted to remain and dwell. More
True Christians always feel the sin within them—that which they were born with and that which they commit. They must therefore, repent daily. More
Human reason simply does not comprehend the great love of God. It cannot. Natural thought goes along this line: I must have to do something. So startling is the doctrine of God’s love so freely given, that it can even make us angry. More
How often have you wished to do what is right, but find yourself unable? Within yourself, in your “inmost self” (RSV) or soul, you want to do right, but discover you cannot do so in your outward parts. More
The law was given us to show how corrupt we really are. Therefore, it shows us our need for Christ’s gospel. We should then, receive the fullness of his grace, which he freely gives... More
Over the years, I have become even more certain of one thing: I am forgiven of all my sins for Christ’s sake. If I am left to the resources of my behavior, I am altogether ruined and hopeless. More
No one was excepted in Jesus’ commission to the disciples. Even the scribes and the Pharisees were warned of their need to repent (Matt 3:7). More
Ask God to forgive you for the sake of Christ. Do not ask God to forgive you for the sake of the good or religious things you have done or will do. More
This is a matter of justification, a matter upon which we must not give way even an inch. For faith in Christ is the only thing that justifies. If it were otherwise, Christ’s death is meaningless. More
We cannot give our good works to other sinners. Who would want such filthy rags, in any case? Nor may we sell them; that would be trading in counterfeit goods More
The hope of eternal life does not come through religious actions, the promises of pastors, priests, and popes, or payment plans. All of these will disappoint sooner or later. Your good deeds will always be suspect. More
The highest price was paid for souls because, in fact, they are not cheap. The ransom price for sinners is life. Either we pay for our sin, or God does. Either he dies or we die. More
Oh, that people would come running to Christ, who freely offers sublime peace through the full remission of sin and any penalty otherwise attached. More
No one can earn the forgiveness of sin, either in whole or in part. Nor may it be bought—or sold. Further, it is not within the purview of the Church to grant partial forgiveness of sin... More
There is only one way to know you are forgiven. Believe the word of God. Has he promised to forgive us? Yes. Has he assured us that he will cleanse us from all unrighteousness? Yes. More
Imagine the distress of a woman who longs to be with her husband but who has been told she will not see him again for another 50 years. Reunion is a lifetime away! More
We know exactly how much is to be rendered for a single sin and for all sin. Christ Jesus is the sum. He is the only means by which we may be reconciled to God. More
God does not base his forgiveness of our sin on human effort or religious devotion. Rather, God has forgiven all our sin from the earliest day until the present. More
Our sins seem infinite when we consider our thoughts, words, and deeds: the things we think, and say, and do; the things we should have thought, should have done, and should have said. More
Repentance and confession are not things we do simply because it is that time of the week. These things happen when we have a heartfelt sadness for sin. More
I suppose the desire to repent should be considered a good thing. However, basing the forgiveness of sin on this aspiration or on any other so-called good work is not good news. It is not the gospel. More
Again, the object of this kind of religion is self; it is about how much devotion or how many deeds a person can muster. Further, will that be enough to appease God’s wrath? More
Here is the tormenting question that will beset a soul: Have I been contrite enough? Who could possibly say? How does one quantify contrition? More
The object of our faith is Christ, not our works of the law. We are justified by faith in him, not by striving to be better. That would be putting faith in our own deeds instead of in the goodness and justice of Christ. More
I do not need to earn my salvation or prove, somehow, that I will do better. God is not subordinate to my actions, as though I need to do anything for him to be disposed to me in a favorable way. More
This is a superficial, thoroughly human, way of looking at sin—one that leaves the conscience troubled and rarely at peace with God. More
Simply put: if you are acting in your own power, relying upon yourself to be a good person, you are sunk. From the moment you were born, you have never been good enough... More
Judas sold out Jesus, his rabbi and Lord, for thirty pieces of silver. Would his Lord not forgive him for doing so? Of course, Jesus would forgive his disciple; he loved him. More
Knowledge of one’s sin is necessary but it is insufficient for salvation. Repentance from sin is also indispensable but regret and penance combined will not do for salvation. More
It is no accident that the gospels follow directly after the Old Testament. The offer of God’s grace must always follow on the teaching of the law. More
No one is exempt; all are born in sin and captivated by it, until they have faith. Even then, the forgiveness of God is necessary, for saints are still sinners. But here is the difference: they are repentant sinners. More
God uses his law to demolish the false righteousness of so-called saints and sinners too. He uses his Word to awaken us from the death of spiritual sleep. The effect is not that of a gentle alarm clock but rather, a jackhammer that jolts us into consciousness. More
The law’s job is to reveal sin and the wrath of God, and to convict the world of its unrighteousness and the judgment to come. That office is not closed. More
The law is always there to terrify consciences. The terror is so complete and overpowering that we have nowhere to turn, not even to ourselves. More
Justification always comes through faith in God’s gracious promises in Christ. Being right with God is never a result of one’s devotion to God. The opposite is the case on two levels. More
Let us be clear. We are all sinners, saved by the grace of God. Sin has produced a world of wickedness in a single human heart, let alone in all of humanity. More
It is not in our nature to love God or do good. That old nature must die, so that a new nature may be formed in us—a righteous nature given to us, that may love God. Working at it will not make us God fearing or good people. More
We may do some good on our own. For example, our own free will may be at work in civil matters. You may determine whether or not you will pay your taxes or stop when the light is red or if you will provide some service to your country. More
You will recall that we are dealing with theological errors that were refuted in Luther’s “Smalcald Articles.” We have seen that these errors were largely due to being in conflict with the chief article. More
We have already seen how human nature is not equal to the task. But even if some person is able to live a perfectly sinless life, that person was born into sin (original sin), and so, remains a sinner. More
People are able to choose to do some good but they are incapable of being good. Likewise, they are able to leave off from doing some evil, while remaining incapable of being sinners. More
Though this passage in Isaiah depicts the coming Messiah, it may also be seen as a model for the godly life. Within it, we see that human beings have the capacity to learn and to think. More
The kingdom of God cannot be stormed by reason. Human reason is strong but it cannot bring itself to believe in the unseen, the unprovable. More
Near the beginning, Adam and Eve paid no attention to what God spoke. He told them that they may eat of all manner of things in the garden of Eden, but that they must not eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. More
The prime sin, which brought all sin into the world, is a hereditary sin, making us all sinners, persons with a built-in desire to sin. More
What can you do with those who cannot or will not hear? If they will not listen, as reasonable people make a point to do, how will they be able to obey God’s Word? More
Luther knew well where these charges came from, praying the Lord’s censure of Satan. This simply means Luther recognized that, though the devil was behind it, the Lord was in control. More
If we are looking for things to go our way in a public election, in the choice of a church leader, or in an assembly’s vote, we should not get our hopes up. Despite the outcome, our hope remains the same. More
There is no teaching more false, no heresy more despicable, than for a representative of the Church to teach that salvation comes in any other manner than by God’s grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ. More
Sola Christus (Christ alone) was a predominant teaching of the Reformation. It should still be the foremost teaching of the Church today, as Christ is the central teaching of Scripture. More
The priesthood of believers leaves no room for airs, for the pretense of one Christian being greater than another. When this happens, the Church will squabble, as any family would in such circumstances, and be of no use to God. More
Salvation does not come by attending a particular church or belonging to a certain denomination. It does not happen because you follow a particular teacher or go along with a particular church leadership. More
We cannot have it both ways. Either Christ is head of his Church, or the pope is. It was claimed that the pope was supreme in the Church. More
These lessons will resume Monday, August 20, 2018. In the meanwhile, please visit the archives that go back to January 1, 2015. More
It is one thing to have a leader in the Church. It is another thing altogether to have that leader make claims that supersede Scripture, create new doctrines for the Church, and have power over others whom God himself has called to leadership. More
Things are bound to get worse. That was Jesus’ message too. Yet, within his message was a word of hope and assurance: “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” More
Oh, that Christ were head of the Church. We have no need of another. Christ has given his churches pastors, who are bishops or overseers of those congregations. More
In The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien describes 20 rings of power that were forged to rule the inhabitants of Middle Earth. One ring and its wearer was to rule over the other 19 and their wearers. More
The “great red dragon” of Revelation 5 is depicted as a beast that has situated itself in such a way that it may easily devour the child about to be born into the world. More
The real issue was, and will always be, in regards to redemption. How is one forgiven and saved? Does this happen because of our good works, religious services, the works of others, declarations of indulgence? More
This is not a matter of being unwilling to grovel. Rather, we should not address brothers and sisters in the Lord as though they were anyone but family. More
There is only one who is the head of the Church. Jesus Christ must be given this honor, for the Father has conferred that authority and power on him alone. More
Puzzles and other fun, educational items for your children and grandchildren More
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for well-meaning people to be caught up in religious practices, thinking they are doing right, while acting unrighteously. Add to this that they are deceiving themselves. More
Monasteries and convents had become, by Luther’s time, places to earn one’s salvation. In other words, the sacrifice of living such a life was a merit of one’s virtue, imagined as deserving salvation. More
Habemus ad Dominum. This is part of the Preface prayer, just before we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” in the liturgy. In English, we sing, “We lift them to the Lord.” More
Jesus’ disciples had just seen him walking on the sea, did not recognize him, and were terrified. Yet the people of Gennesaret “immediately recognized him” and were overjoyed at his presence. More
Only Jesus Christ is our mediator. If he intercedes for us (and he does), we need no other. He requires no assistance; he is up to the task. So, give him the honor of calling upon him in your time of need. More
Lutherans commend honoring the saints by remembering them, and emulating godly lives. We disapprove of praying to saints and angels. Scripture does not in any way teach us to do so. More
God determines the payment for sin. The Church does not do so, nor does a pope. We know this because this is what the Bible teaches. God’s Word does not teach us to trust in the goodness of either religion or religious people. More
There is a painting that hangs above the altar in St. Peter and Paul Church in Weimar, Germany. In that painting, Luther is pointing to an open Bible in his hand. More
The Mass had become property, something to be bought and sold. Huge sums were brought into the churches through the sale of the forgiveness of sins. More
We are all on pilgrimage—to appear before God in judgment. That Day is approaching, whether or not we feel its nearness. Every day, we are miles closer in our journeys. More
Again, what has this to do with Scripture? What does the Word of God say about the matter? Someone says that a spirit told them to do something. How convenient. More
We have a rule to live by: sola Scriptura. This does not mean, as some think, that we speak only where Scripture speaks and are silent on all other matters. More
See where human reason takes you without the Word of God? One invention demands another until you have a system of traditions that cannot be supported from the Scripture. More
What is written? One must look to the Scripture, then to the Church Fathers, and only listen the Fathers when they have heard the Word. More
What Christ actually instituted is sometimes quite different from what is practiced. So, let us be clear on what was actually done by our Lord, instead of what has been invented since. More
Millions of angels bow before Christ, who is worthy to be exalted over all creation. This is heard in Revelation’s septave of complete praise: power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing. More
We confess in the Third Article of the Creed that we believe in the communion of saints. Personal Communion would say otherwise. More
The mission of Jesus was to take upon himself the sin of the whole world (those who have ever lived, as well as those who ever will). More
The principal abuse of the Mass itself, was that it took the glory away from Christ. People are justified through faith in Christ alone, without the merit of additional sacrifices and works More
Justification is the thing around which all else circles. Look to any doctrine or practice of a church and observe how a person is justified to God. More
Christ’s words stand on their own; we do not need—nor should we—add anything to them in order to make them effective. The reason for this, is that it is his word that makes them effective. More
While it may be “omitted without sin and danger,” it may not be done without danger of sin. If people believe that Holy Communion is a work, a sacrifice done by a priest, and a service performed by themselves to receive God’s grace and forgiveness, then they are in real danger. More
Luther speaks here of the money-making Roman Mass. We have dealt earlier with masses paid for in order to absolve the dead, or others not present. More
Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin. The blood of the perfect Lamb of God was the redemption price, liberating us from not only sin, but death and the devil to boot. More
Faith. Faith in Christ. Faith in Christ alone. This must not be yielded, else anything may be believed. A system of law, or works, or any human tradition could be said to lead to salvation. More
Divine justice owes humanity nothing. We do not deserve to be justified to God because of anything we do. Indeed, our sin and sinfulness deserves exactly the opposite. More
The justification of sinners is received as God’s gift, not because of religious or moral activity. Justification is a legal term, appropriated by the Apostle Paul to express God’s great gift. More
In this great, narrative sentence, there is one subject and a countless number of direct objects. Let us begin with the objects of the subject. More
Faith in God is essential. Without faith, we are like ships tossed about on the waves. But if Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is futile. More
Luther wanted unity in the Church, but not if it meant sacrificing the very truths that upheld that Church. Three memorable, Latin slogans that came out of the Lutheran reform movement can help us determine when we are parting from Christian truth. More
The force of Luther’s writing up to this point is that the German reformers and the church in Rome held to the same basic, credal beliefs. More
When we confess that we “believe in God,” we are saying that we believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. More
With the Nicene Creed, Luther confessed that God the Father is eternal, that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. More
Luther begins with the beginning: that God is that One God, the Only God, who has created everything. This beginning includes the great mystery of the Christian faith... More
Oh! the dawn of that glorious Day! When Jesus returns, what need will there be of Councils? Every knee will bow before him and his word will be enough for all. More
We busy ourselves with a kind of mundane yet exuberant piety, the machinations of religion, so that we might deceive ourselves (and others, I suppose) into thinking we are holy and righteous. More
All those things that Luther denounced were outward displays. They ought to be fixed, but dealing with those outer matters neglects the more important things, the inner matters that end up improving the outer. More
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The old adage rings as true today as it seems it did in Luther’s day. More
It was after Jesus saw the desolate villages, the “sheep without a shepherd,” that he called the twelve disciples. God equips his Church with a variety of vocations... More
The Spirit of God often uses new situations to change our perspective, to bring us to repentance. We are all sinners, so we are all in need of daily and constant repentance. More
God uses his Word and Sacraments to grow our faith, and increase and unify the Church. Nevertheless, his Word and Sacraments are distributed by the work of his Spirit through people. More
Luther is still speaking primarily of the fanatics, the schwärmerei, those who used Luther’s words to their own ends. They twisted his teachings, bringing division to the church instead of reform. More
Luther taught that we are only able to know God as God makes himself known to us: through his Word and through the Sacraments. There was no room special revelation... More
There is only one thing worse than not being permitted to meet with those who disagree with you. Meeting with them, only to hear them speak in a manner that is unreasonable, is even worse. More
When you are brought before a group you should not have anxiety about what you should testify, since the Spirit will teach you in the moment the words that need to be spoken. More
Up to this point in the Lutheran Confessions, we have largely had the writings of Philip Melancthon, professor of Greek at the University of Wittenberg, and friend of and collaborator with Martin Luther in the Protestant Reformation. More
We cannot reason our way to God. Nor can traditions light the way to divine truth. Human institutions are unable to direct us to God. More
The old saying, “Do as I say but not as I do,” is applicable to pharisaical instruction. Jesus is teaching that we ought to observe right teaching of the Scripture, though not necessarily imitate the actions of those teaching. More
Christians are called to lives of submission. We are to honor our parents, deferring to their authority. We are to obey earthly authorities, as well as church leadership. More
The Lutheran reformers wanted to proclaim a clear word of Scripture. Human traditions that promised God’s favor were summarily dismissed in favor of God’s gracious favor being freely given through faith, for Christ’s sake. More
It is amusing to consider the things that each Christian group focuses on, as though they were God’s perpetual commandments. More
What right does anyone have to insist that we do certain things in order to be forgiven? Christ has set us free; so we are truly free (John 8:36). More
Let the power of bishops—indeed, the power of the whole Church—reside in the Word alone, sola Scriptura. If the Spirit cannot make his case through the Word alone, is a bishop able to make new laws that are effective where God is not? More
What is it that you heard from the beginning other than that you are saved by believing on Jesus Christ? That you must or must not do certain things in order to be forgiven and saved came later when people tried to foist their religious brand upon you. More
Eternal life begins during this earthly life. It starts within us by faith. First, we are forgiven and made righteous before God through faith in his Son. More
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Nothing needs to be added to the Gospel in order to make it effective for the forgiveness of sins, justification, or eternal life. More
What should shine forth from the Church above all other things? Buildings? Traditions? Fund raisers? The pastor? Denominational programs? The youth group? Style of worship? More
No pastor, bishop, priest, or pope has the right to determine rules for apprehending eternal life when those rules have no authority from the Gospel. More
The Reformation slogan, sola Scriptura, should be kept close in our thoughts. Much doubt and anxiety may be avoided, if God’s Word is our rule of faith and practice. More
If our righteousness must exceed that of religious experts, then what are we to do? We are to understand what righteousness actually is. More
The Defense of the Augsburg Confession concludes with a word on the power of the church. It insists that the church was corrupt and that this was harmful to the people in the church. More
May we all come to this understanding: that we despair of any way of life we may have imagined would save us. May we consider all our works as filthy garments... More
These older widows had promised to not remarry so that they could receive assistance from the church. Remarrying was seen as breaking that “oath”—the same word translated as “faith.” More
It is clear enough from the context that these widows whom Paul spoke of were simply women the Church supported unless they remarried. More
We need all the help we can get. No one would deny this to be true. But if the help obscures Christ, it is not help; it is a great evil. More
We have a shared promise through Christ since we are all sons of God through faith in him. As such, all believers are joint heirs of the promise made to Christ, the Seed of Abraham. More
It is remarkably easy to take a verse or two from the Bible and construct a doctrine or a whole way of life. The safeguard to doing this, or falling prey to its adherents, is to, as we say, “be in the Word”—all of God’s Word. More
Our works, actions, and lifestyles do not make us right with God. Jesus Christ justifies us before God. This is why faith alone in the grace of God alone merits his forgiveness and salvation. More
Sometimes people make bad decisions. We all do this but one wrong decision should not necessitate a lifetime of poor choices or actions. More
Be sure that your commitments depend upon God’s promises, power, and faithfulness, instead of your own. Be doubly certain that you do not imagine keeping your promises is the way to salvation. More
Religious acting can take the form of doing worship, that is, not worshiping at all. This often takes the form of a ritual that does not come from the heart. More
The Word of God must be proclaimed with clarity, putting useless arguments aside in favor of the gospel. The best way to accomplish this is to cut a straight path through the Scripture. More
Watch your step. When going before God in worship and prayer, we must be very careful. It is easy to walk into false doctrine, hypocrisy, and useless rituals. More
Everyone who believes in Christ overcomes the world through faith. There is no need to leave the world in order to do so. There is no need for us to go to additional lengths in order to be forgiven. More
Jesus saw Matthew, a tax collector, and told him to follow: to be his disciple. How would there have been perfection if Matthew continued to sit there? More
Are you willing to follow Jesus? If it means you would lose the civil right to buy and sell, to make a living, to provide for your family, would you still follow Jesus? More
Having no bank account does not aid the spirit, though it may destroy the spirit if one takes pride in the so-called accomplishment of giving up money and property. More
I have known people who refused to work on Sunday. Some employers understood; others did not. I heard of one man who would not work on the Lord’s Day and as a result, lost his job. More
God does not command certain pietistic practices of giving up property, friends, family, food, and clothing. Indeed, Jesus tells us to not be anxious about such things. More
We must not forsake the gospel, even if it means loss of property, family, or even life. What is it that keeps you from following Jesus? More
God’s commandments forbid the forsaking of parents. Yet in this teaching of Jesus about leaving one’s family—even children—for him, it is clear that Jesus is using hyperbole to make his point. More
Does our virtuous lifestyle add anything to faith? To be sure, we are to furnish our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, and brotherly and godly love. More
We are not justified before God because of a particular lifestyle, no matter how holy or special it may seem. God is able to make a child holy while that child, as yet, has no occupation. More
How may a person of faith be found on that Day “without spot or blemish”? Even more, how may one be certain that their life is so blameless that they are at peace with God? More
As we are not made impure by physical things that enter us from the outside, so we do not purge our impurity by doing physical things. More
How much faith is enough? Is there an admittance fee to heaven, but then you have to pay for any extras? Does a little more get you more once you get inside? More
Where is your confidence, your trust? Is it your bank account or perhaps, your pension? Maybe it is the government, its promise to protect you while lowering taxes and providing new jobs. More
What a joy it is to realize that God’s forgiveness and eternal life are gifts. Now, we all understand that one does not work for a gift; otherwise it is not a gift at all. Instead of a gift, it has become something we earned. More
Those who who do not believe in salvation for Christ’s sake, in other words, because of what God has done through his Son, are not only blind and witless, they have refused grace. More
Does Jesus mean that dishonoring parents and dismissing the fourth commandment are of such great virtue that they merit eternal life? How absurd. More
I take a bit of exception to Melancthon’s verb choice—although I agree with him if I understand what he intended to say. I do not wish, however, to put my words in his mouth. More
We easily see that Paul, himself of the pharisaic tradition, taught that Christians leave the faith when they devote themselves to legal requirements such as those under consideration. More
The most important commandment is greater than people are capable of apprehending in thought, let alone action. It is the height of theology. More
There are good religious traditions, and those that are no good at all. The good ones found and construct you in the faith. These traditions are learned in the pure Word of God. More
Adiaphora are matters in which we should look for neither sin nor righteousness. They are non-essentials, things that have nothing to do with one’s standing before God. These non-essentials are typically traditions or customs. More
The “power belongs to God.” We are incapable of securing our own forgiveness and salvation. Imagine the person who looks in the mirror and declares, “I forgive you of your sins.” More
Before the advent of radio, television, and internet, news traveled slowly. In some circles, it travels more slowly today. More
Scripture is clear: those who try to justify their sin by their works have fallen from grace. We cannot balance the scales by placing good works against bad works. It is not a matter of weights and measures. More
Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Paul then said, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” More
If our religion is one that earns forgiveness of sin and eternal life through religious devotion, services, and other good works, then we slander faith in Christ, just as the religious authorities in Jerusalem spurned Christ himself. More
Years ago, my Dad took me to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. On the way, we ate at a restaurant he liked. Over his protests, I bought my meal. More
What does God want? What does he want more than anything? What does God want from us “above all things”? He wants us. He wants our hearts, our trust, so that he may bless us. More
Instead of “circumcision,” one might as well say “vows” or any other legalism—the idea is the same. Neither vows nor a lack of vows counts for anything. Only faith matters. More
What a trial the Lutheran Reformers faced; we can hardly imagine such an issue in our modern culture. Back and forth the arguments went, first being written out, edited by peers, then written again and again until all could be in agreement with the document before sending it on to Rome. More
So-called evangelical perfection is the keeping of all God’s commands. Let us consider three points in this regard. First, being in a monastic order does not equal “evangelical perfection” any more than does membership in a particular denomination. More
It is an easy enough trap to fall into. One imagines he is being religious but his religion is based on human traditions. Anything can happen now—and will, as was evidenced by Christians being slaughtered at the hands of the Church. More
Greed always ends in activity that is unfitting for Christians and harmful to the Church. What begins in the heart seeps out into character and behavior. More
There are abuses in churches because there are people in churches. Sinners bring their problems and opinions with them and share them with everyone present. Of course, we should speak against certain abuses, using Scripture to reason with folks. More
It is a tightrope. We are taught to be patient and gentle, loving one another with humility and forgiveness. At the same time, we are to admonish one another from the Scripture. More
The righteousness of faith is a most blessed, gracious gift of God. Through this righteousness, we honor him and possess a constant comfort against sin and death. More
If you think that salvation is earned by the works you do, you either have become your own god or you have followed another false god. If you are able to save yourself from judgment by doing certain have become your own god. More
Aerius was a fourth century bishop of Sabaste in Pontus (modern day Sivas in the Black Sea area of Turkey). His teachings about offerings for the dead not being part of the Mass labeled his as a heretic by most of the church. More
Worship in the New Testament is done “in spirit and truth.” This kind of worship means that the active agent is the Spirit of God—not us. Our works do not count for anything. More
The ancients never intended to deliver the patriarch, prophets, and apostles from a so-called purgatory. They only wished to offer up thanks together with them for the blessings that have been given to them and to us, More
Why is Scripture, or the Word of God, so important? Why is its authority paramount? It is the only objective way we have of knowing who God is, and of discerning his will among the countless voices demanding our attention. More
Using the Sacrament in a way that Christ did not intend, abuses and profanes his Holy Supper. Offering his blessed promises to the dead and to those who do not believe makes it an occasion for sin and judgment. More
What consolation would we have if forgiveness of sin were offered in Holy Communion, yet there was no respite from and remission of guilt? More
Ceremonies and rituals are nice. But a ceremony or a ritual is not fine in and of itself. For example, if I go through the motions of living with my wife but do not believe that she loves me, consider the relational benefits alone that are absent to me. More
It is obvious that there is no verse of Scripture that would have us celebrate the sacrament in such a way that it promises benefits those who are dead. More
The word “bodies,” used in nearly every English translation of Romans 12:1, does not mean body in the way we think. The Greek somata means more than the physical. More
There are many fine collections of prayers available. If a person reads those prayers but does not believe in God, are they effective prayers? More
The origin and therefore, original meaning of the term “Mass” is widely disputed. That it originates in the Latin word missa is not disputed. That word means “sending” or “dismissal.” More
So, we have come to see that the liturgy of the Church is not a sacrifice at all. It is the whole service of worship that is done for the good of all present. More
The sacrifice, or re-sacrifice, of Christ is not to be added to Holy Communion. It cannot be added, since it has already been accomplished. However, we may add our own sacrifice... More
Liturgy does not mean sacrifice. It never meant that in secular Greek and in biblical Greek it is a word related to the ministry of the Church. The term “liturgy” means a required, public service that is of benefit to others. More
Though some call it the sacrifice of the Mass, it still would not mean that this service of thanksgiving, or Eucharist, bestows God’s grace upon people whether they have faith in him or not. More
Faith is the byword of the Lutheran Reformation. The Church could only be reformed, shaped back to what it was meant to be, through faith in God. Each person receives forgiveness when they have faith in the forgiving God. More
In Confession and Absolution, we are to carefully consider our sins. We stare squarely into our souls and see who we truly are, and recognize that we are sinners. More
Do your sins torment you? Go to the forgiver of sin. Do you fear eternal death? Go to the source of life. Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? Then go to the table where the righteousness of another is served. More
Faith is the very thing that determines the right to eat at the Lord’s table. A person must first examine himself to see whether he has faith to eat and drink. More
Holy Communion is not effective because of motions and rituals. We are not accomplishing something because we have acted out a tragedy. More
The New Testament teaches that the highest form of worship happens within, spiritually, in the heart. One may do all the outward, religious services but do so with a corrupt heart. More
The Word has been given to reveal God and arouse faith in him. The Sacrament of Holy Communion was instituted so that, in remembering Christ, that faith may be strengthened. More
A husband may buy his wife diamonds, flowers, and many other things, but if his word does not accompany them, it is difficult to believe for long that these are signs of his love. More
Drawing significance to professions, making divisions among ourselves, is the furthest thing from the focus of the Lord’s Supper. Christ is the emphasis of our communion. Christ is our communion. More
The human heart, harder than diamonds, is determined to have its own way. Religious matters are not exempt from our hardness of heart. More
Our sacrifices—on an altar or on the altar of life do not settle the score with God. As we have shown many times, Christ alone is the sacrifice that has reconciled God. More
The disciples gathered around their Lord, bringing nothing to the table. Christ Jesus brought it all. The disciples did nothing but receive with thankful hearts. More
Besides the odious practice of marketing Christ’s body and blood, this commerce is based upon selfish desires, largely the freeing of departed loved ones from a place that does not exist. More
Holy Communion is the privilege of those who truly participate in the body and blood of Christ. This participation is genuine fellowship in the communion of saints, else it is a mockery. More
There is false security in performing a ritual, or in it being performed for us, expecting that it has some spiritual value just because the ceremony is done. It is not enough to come to the altar to eat and drink a bit of bread and wine. More
We cannot work our way to God. We cannot do so morally or religiously. Imagine someone saying, I’m good enough now to be forgiven my badness. More
The religious works of others on our behalf can no more kill or mortify us than make us alive again or quickened. The work worked by them, though perhaps very satisfying to the eye and ear, remains the work of a human being. More
Either Christ is the full and final atonement for the sins of the world, or he is not. In the latter case, two things are true. More
Paul tells us all that is required to be reconciled to God. All things in heaven and earth are brought peace and consolation through the blood of Christ alone. Through faith... More
The services of the Old Testament were a symbol or a picture of what was to come. Their use was to cleanse the flesh, the natural person, from sin. These services required constant repetition because of constant sin. More
God had a plan—from the beginning. You see it spread before you as early as the book of Genesis. He made a covenant with Abraham in order to bless the nations through the Lion of tribe of Judah. More
Jesus Christ is the only high priest able to stand between you and God. As such, he is called our “great high priest” by the writer of Hebrews. Because Jesus is our high priest, we are able to make the good confession. That confession is that he is the Christ, the one whose sacrifice has made the difference. More
What is it that proclaims the gospel? That thing belongs in our services of worship. The Sacraments proclaim the gospel on the deepest level. “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” clearly “speak” the good news of Christ among us. More
The Lutherans believed (and believe) that we have no need of an intermediary in order to receive the benefits of Holy Communion. Christ is our intermediary. We only need his grace. More
We have been saved by God’s grace—not by our good works or offerings of money or service. This salvation happens through faith in Christ. It is that simple. More
Faith in Christ, in what he has done for us, is so important because it always makes us look to the source of forgiveness and salvation. Anything that turns our attention away from him must be avoided altogether. More
Repentance does not mean that we must go and do something to overturn God’s anger. Repetition of prayers and good deeds do not effect God’s forgiveness. More
The desolating sacrilege that Daniel referred to are not about decorations, ceremony, and other external matters. God is instead, teaching us internal, spiritual matters through Daniel’s prophecy: to keep faith... More
The good news of Jesus Christ comes to us in preaching. We must hear it; then God gives us faith. But the Word must truly be heard in this proclamation, with all that “hearing” means. More
Whether it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or grace, forgiveness, and eternal life under consideration, God’s gifts are just that: gifts. He gives freely to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. More
The Lutheran Reformers taught that there are two basic types of kingdoms in the world: the first, spiritual, the second, temporal. The Church at the time of the Reformation held—and wielded—both powers. More
We should not go through the motions of religious ceremony, for this is vanity and hypocrisy. Ritualism without understanding is foolishness. More
Look to Abraham. Was his putting the knife to Isaac the sacrifice God desired? No; that was a test, not a real sacrifice. The true sacrifice was Abraham’s faith in God. More
In the Old Testament, many things represented things to come; they are lesser types of a greater future. What was concealed in the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. More
Doctrine must have a sure and clear word of God, not obscure analogies. Nothing in Scripture suggests that a ceremony saves us from sin and death. God has done that for us. More
That holy priesthood called the Church is the temple of God through which sacrifices are to be made to him. We do not mean physical sacrifices. More
This is the sacrifice that is acceptable to God: our old nature mortified in Christ Jesus. The death of Christ occurred on the cross, while ours happens in baptism where our fleshly nature is slain with Christ. More
The day is coming when every knee in heaven and on earth will bow at the name of Jesus (Phil 2:10). This does not come through robotic religion; it happens when hearts are regenerated through the preaching of the gospel. More
The Lord’s name will be made great throughout the earth through the preaching of the gospel. The Spirit produces faith in individuals through the Word. More
Having been moved to faith, the Spirit of God begins to transform us through the Word, worship, and testing. He gives each believer a gift or gifts of the Spirit that should be used in service for God. More
Works are things that God rewards, to be sure, but something else is more certain. God does not reward our good works with salvation. More
Do good but do not depend upon your good works. Depend upon God, upon his word and his promises. Though they please him if done from the heart, God does not require your sacrifices. More
The Hebrew word for “obey” can also be understood to heed, listen, or hear. For to truly hear is to obey. If you do not obey, you have not really heard. More
In the New Testament, there is no offering or service or work that merits God’s favor ex opere operato—on account of the work that has been done or the service rendered. More
We are to offer sacrifices but the Lutheran Reformers wanted to be clear, not only what those sacrifices are but, what they accomplish. There is no sacrifice that we can offer or that can be offered for us. More
There is only one work that saves, reconciles, justifies, atones, provides forgiveness of sin. That one work or sacrifice is not something that any human being can do. More
After the true sacrifice had been accomplished, all analogous and ceremonial sacrifices should cease. What they pointed toward had already been accomplished in Christ’s cross. More
You may sacrifice this thing or another, hoping that God will be appeased and forgive your sins. Or you might do some good work or act of penance, again, hoping that God will remove your guilt. More
Baptism “brings about forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare” (The Small Catechism). More
Although there were symbolic types of atoning sacrifice in the Old Testament, true, propitiatory sacrifice was only accomplished by Jesus Christ. More
Our concern is what a propitiatory or atoning sacrifice is for Christians. For that matter, what is an atoning sacrifice for anyone during this Christian era? There is just one... More
Jesus ended the former type of sacrifice, that is, animal sacrifice for the purposes of reconciliation with God and the forgiveness of sin. More
Baptism is necessary for salvation. Jesus did not say, Believe and you will be saved. Instead, he adds a work that he does to us through a Sacrament (meaning a sacred thing). More
It is critical to have a right understanding. Our modern English Bible translations use the phrase, "rightly handling the word of truth." The King James puts a finer point on the phrase by following William Tyndale's lead in literally