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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
Poor Jacob, the Patriarch, had lived all those years believing his son Joseph to be dead. Then his sons told their father that his son lived... 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
What is able to set you free: human traditions or the Word of God? Abide in one and lack assurance and peace. Abide in the other and know perfect peace. 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 works...you 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
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 translating the phrase as "rightly dividing the word of truth." More
Scripture presents Christ as our High Priest, who through his one sacrifice has taken away the sins of the world. Those who believe are justified with God by no merit or works of their own. More
The common belief was that God’s grace and mercy could be had at a price. Therefore, spiritual benefit could come from the work worked, opus operatum. More
Peace comes to us through faith. Faith must come first, since we cannot know peace until we know that somehow we have become righteous before God. Now, any sane person knows that righteousness cannot come by virtue of human works. More
Grace is not merited “from the work worked” (ex opere operato) by humans. It is a gift received through faith in the great work of Christ. Going through religious motions accounts for nothing without faith in God’s word of promise. More
I know a man who reads his morning paper, then removes the employment section of the classified ads. He takes that bit of the paper with him on his drive to work. If someone is panhandling on a street corner, he hands them the employment classifieds. More
The Augsburg Confession, of which this document is a defense against the charges of the Roman Confutation, states that “the Mass is a Sacrament for those gathered.” More
One must trust the promise of God, believing with true faith. Yet, as we have said, this cannot be accomplished without the Word. One must actually hear the words of Scripture, not a babbling in another language but real, understandable words. More
More than one person has proclaimed to me, as though to unsettle me, I suppose, that going to church does not make one a Christian. Well, amen to that. More
The Reformers would not sit still for the scattered blows of their opponents’ Confutation. Twisting statements into something they are not could not be permitted, if the central focus of the Reformation was to be maintained. More
Cultural correctness is not an easy thing to buck. It feels like nearly everyone is against you. Yet, it is far better to have the whole world denounce you than have God condemn you. More
Only God’s Word will abide. Our idle arguments will wither, our fine words and reasoning fall with the flowers at the end of summer. As they wither and fall, God’s glory will appear in full bloom before us. More
As stated when writing about the Distinction of Meats, Jovinian was a monk and ascetic in the fourth century who wrote against celibacy and other monastic traditions. He praised the virtues of marriage and was therefore, of course, branded a heretic. More
If one cannot in his own power do what God expects, that is, if he continues to sin, then he should do what God says is the answer. It is foolhardy to do what people say ought to be done when God has provided a different solution. More
What makes a sinner pure? Flagellations? Fastings? Offerings? Are these the things that King David did in order to be clean after his sin with Bathsheba? King David well understood who did the cleansing. More
This long argument against the demonic dogma of enforced and perpetual celibacy may seem to some as being overdone. Yet these very same problems persist 500 years later. More
The Wittenberg Reformers knew something about peddlers of religion. The hucksters of indulgences plagued the lands, bilking folks out of scarce money. There were other charlatans too, who traded wholesale in religion, exchanging false promises for the blessings of life. 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
The devil’s lies brought sin and death into the world. Knowledge of this should provide godly people with ample courage to stand for the truth. Part of that truth is that God uses both self-discipline and marriage as means of faithfulness. More
A further edition of the Lutheran Confessions adds, “God has now so blinded the world that adultery and fornication are permitted almost without punishment; on the contrary, punishment is inflicted on account of marriage.” More
We do not like to think of a wrathful God. Yet a holy God is by default, angry at times. His anger is stirred by willful disobedience, by those who think they know better than he does. More
Those who prohibit marriage, enforcing celibacy as a necessary good work, have become a laughing stock. Even their own dare to laugh when others make sport or even scorn their ways. For these ways are not God’s ways; perpetual celibacy is a human invention. More
The churches and seminaries should be places where people may safely flee the passions—not run straight into them, and with more abundance and variety than was known elsewhere. More
We should never place so-called common sense before Holy Scripture. We may imagine that we understand something perfectly well, yet God’s way are not our ways. What once seemed entirely sensible to us looks quite different through the eyes of faith. More
Not only was celibacy not the thing in Rome or in the monasteries, unchastity was on display in these places—as it is now. This hypocrisy was well-known to the people. More
Marriage should never be considered an obstacle to salvation, nor as a life filled with of sins. Quite the opposite is true. The Apostle Paul praises the married life for its unique ability to keep one from sin. More
Programs of austerity for the sake of meriting favor with God are useless. Indeed, they are harmful. These things make us think that we are the cause of our own salvation. More
These false teachings come about by not understanding the principal teaching of the New Testament, the one from which all good doctrine springs, and the central tenet of the Lutherans. That principal belief is that we are saved by God. More
Those who enjoy their ease and indolence, without the benefit of the Word of God, and having no regard for it, live their lives without worry or guilt. These conditions brought the most debauched lifestyles upon the Church, just as they do in our times. More
There must be good order in all things. I once did marriage counseling with a couple whose problems always seemed to come back to talk about sex. More
We neither require nor need any acts of purification. For it is God alone who cleanses hearts. King David knew this to be true. What work of cleansing did he do after his sin with Bathsheba? More
The ceremonial code in the law of Moses, those things concerning what is clean or unclean, do not pertain to Christians. Christians are freed from all the ceremonies of Moses, not only from the laws concerning uncleanness. More
On Saturday about Noon, in the midst of running one more household errand, I complained (again) to my wife: “I’m not going to get anything done today!” More
Whether or not we concur with the rhetorical comparisons used by Melancthon, we may understand his point. That is, we cannot earn the favor of God. Rather, because of Christ’s work, those who believe are regarded as righteous by God. More
Whenever some religious notion enters our heads, making us imagine that we must do one thing or another in order to earn God’s grace, we may confidently declare that thing to be false. More
It is the heart that must be changed, not necessarily one’s vocation or position in life. One may think that he must become a pastor in order to be on heaven’s path. More
Nothing is pure, if it is done outside of faith and God’s Word. An unbeliever may practice the most ascetic spiritual disciplines. He may fast, study, meditate, remain celibate, and feed the poor, but none of this is pure if it is exercised without faith. More
If ever there were a single word that summed up the Lutheran Confessions, it is the word faith. Everything depends upon faith in God, and that depends upon God’s grace. More
But the main point here is that marriage remains a holy estate even if one person is not a believer—not because of the beliefs of the person, but because of the God who ordains marriage. More
Efforts to be holy through anything other than Christ are denials of Christ and of his justification of us. Devoting ourselves to religious things such as abstinence—whether foods or marriage—is to deprive ourselves... More
Christ himself says here that married people are joined together by God. He is quoting Moses and then adds that it is God who joins them together. More
Before going on with arguments, let us acknowledge that the Holy Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments declare marriage a holy matter, something that God has ordained. More
Is a pastor purer to God if unmarried? Is this what makes people pure under the New Testament? Is it the New Testament in human purity or the New Testament in Christ’s blood? More
Regardless of wording, Daniel paints the “king” whom Melancthon infers to be an Antichrist as one who exalts himself above all people, all gods, all law. More
Contrast the hardness of humans with the mercy of God. Humans invent divorce and laws like celibacy—even forcing divorces upon those already married so that human regulation will be kept, even when it is in open defiance of God’s command. More
There are those who are able to truly and consistently practice control of the flesh. But if they are not able, if they have not been empowered with restraint by God, then they should marry. This is God’s plan for us—with good reason. More
Do you imagine that you are able to be virtuous in your own strength? Of course, we must rely on God’s strength, not our own. Yet we are not to rely upon his strength alone. We must also depend upon his plan. More
God has already provided the answer; and it is a splendid solution. So, if anything, people should pray for common sense. God has blessed men and women with the sweet fellowship of marriage and the comfort and peace of the marriage bed. More
Paul does not say here that he wishes all were celibate. Rather, he speaks of his gifting from God’s Spirit to keep himself under control. He would prefer that all were like himself, self-controlled in matters of sexual appetite. More
Since the fall of Adam, the temptation to sin in general has been difficult (Rom 7:19) but the struggle with lust may be at the top of the list. Self-control is a hard habit to master. More
Evidently, the notion of celibacy had been raised with Paul by the Corinthians. The apostle gives a conditional response. There are some who have received special graces from God, so that they may be celibate. More
Natural love existed between men and women even when their nature was still pure. God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply,” which of course, happens in but one manner. More
In the wisdom of God, there are both male and female, the one for the other. He formed man from “the dust of the ground,” then breathing into him “the breath of life.” More
Eating, drinking, marrying, and other such natural privileges and rights are good; God has blessed these things for our use. Yet a problem occurs when we enjoy (or over-enjoy) these rights without thanks to God. More
God has built into nature—indeed, into our natures—the union of men and women (Gen 2:24). But this built-in right points to the glory of the regenerated nature that we have in Christ. More
This is human reason at work again. Scripture says one thing, but we come up with our reasons for not believing what the Word says. Men and women are made for one another... More
“Reason cannot establish anything sure about God.” But if we rely upon what is written, if we look to Scripture for our answers, we see quite clearly that God created men and women for the purposes of partnership and filling the earth with people. More
Some people just have to be right—even at the expense of being very wrong. Cultures—whether religious or political—never seem to change in this regard. More
It is an irony. One would think that priests would be the ones to marry. After all, Paul tells us that marriage is a symbol of the relationship that Christ has with his Church. More
One cannot put on an alb and cincture, yet live like an unbound infidel, and think that putting on an extra robe will cover the hypocrisy. More laws and traditions are not needed. More
The authors of the Roman Confutation acted as if the shameful lives of so many priests were of little concern compared to the issue of priests being permitted to marry. More
There have always been and still are priests, popes, pastors, and bishops who will have nothing to do with the commands and law of God. Scripture is not their guide; indeed, they teach the people that some verses of the Bible are true, while others are fairy tales More
Christ’s command cannot get much clearer than, “Take; eat,” and “Drink of it, all of you.” He did not suggest a choice of courses. It is not a matter of whether one likes the taste of either bread or wine. More
I am always impressed by the steady hands of those who pour from a chalice into a small, individual communion cups. I am no less impressed by those who can hold the cup to the lips without spilling, and for those lips to receive without dribbling. More
The focus of the Lord’s Supper should not be the office of the minister, but Christ alone. With him as our focus, we easily see that there are indeed offices or orders in the Christ’s Church but that we “are all one in Christ Jesus.” More
All of God’s people are to be given both kinds in the Lord’s Supper—both the bread and the wine, his body and his blood. The reason for this usage is simply this: the Lord himself commands this practice for the forgiveness of sins. More
Just because someone wants it to be a certain way, does not make it so. If someone commands authority, this does not necessarily make his demands right. The dictates of an entire culture do not stamp a matter with divine approval. More
If we are to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33), what is it that we should desire? The simplest answer is that we should seek Christ. More
Even if we were to allow such a faulty example, we would need to deal with the priesthood of all believers, and that we are all one in Christ. Lutherans confess that there is no class difference in the Church. More
Who is elevated or remembered in such a distinction between clergy and laity? Is it Christ? Or is it the clergy who are given the greater dignity? More
When we speak of breaking bread, we mean that we take the time to enjoy a meal. In the Church, this may simply refer to a fellowship meal. Yet, in certain Scriptures it could be understood as being something more than a potluck. More
In the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus does not mention the bitter herbs or the sweet charoset or other elements of the Passover meal. More
The blood of Christ is “poured out for many.” This word “many” means for the multitude or for the whole gathering. This was the institution of Christ and the practice of the early Church. More
Everyone received bread; all received wine. Why? The simple reason Paul gives is, that is the way the Lord established it, so that is what the apostle passed on to the Church. More
Lutherans do no alter Christ’s institution, for in so doing, we would change the very message of the gospel. Christ gave his body and shed his blood for all. More
Jesus cannot be more clear. One must partake of both his body and blood in order to have new life in Christ. To eat and drink of the Sacrament is a holy communion with Christ himself. More
The purpose of government is to maintain God’s will on earth. Specifically, our leaders are to do two things: maintain the faith and protect the people. More
How can we begin to understand through human reasoning the dual nature of Christ? We cannot wrap our minds around it, though perhaps a little more easily than we can think on the Trinity itself. Jesus is man and divinity at once. 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
The unity of Christ’s Church depends upon the Holy Spirit—not our actions. However, individual congregations can be destroyed by both our deeds and an intolerance of biblical teaching. More
The promise of the gospel is righteousness, peace, and joy—not religious and dietary laws. More rules and laws provide none of these benefits. More
Without “the words of faith” the Christian Church will cease to be. Traditions and myths bring no peace but the plain teaching of Scripture brings contentment. More
“Well, I don’t know what art is but I like pink.” That opinion may be fine for my granddaughter but it will not fly at the Guggenheim. It does not work in Christian faith either. More
The office that Melancthon refers to is that Christ is our Propitiator and Mediator. Christ alone has atoned for our sin and it is he who stands between sinners and God. More
The Scripture is not some pulp fiction, read for shallow thrills on an idle evening. Rather, the word permeates our whole lives, penetrating and informing us who we are before God. More
The mercy of God knows no bounds. He even forgives us when we are unfaithful to him, as we see in his forgiveness of Peter’s denials. More
The “Apostolic Fathers” inform us that Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John, and “the angel of the church in Smyrna.” Irenaeus was his disciple and tells of the bishop’s faithful life, teaching, stand against heresy, and martyrdom. More
God has done great things through his people, both in the Church and in the affairs of the world. There are so many examples in the lives of his peculiar people... More
It is a slippery slope. It is one thing to ask someone to pray for you, but quite another to expect that person to mediate between you and God. More
Great value was placed on...what the early theologians and bishops called the Church Fathers taught about the Christian faith from the time of the apostles through the seven ecumenical councils of the Church. More
The Lord himself is our sure defense. We need cry out to no other, for no one other than the Almighty is able or inclined to save us. This is what the Scriptures teach us. More
All Christians are priests before God. The Church, a “holy priesthood” of believers prays to God through Jesus Christ. God does not require other intercessors who are in his presence. More
We cannot stand on our own two feet, let alone lend our works or merits to other people. This is the purview of Christ alone. Christ Jesus imputes his righteousness to us, but we do not ascribe our righteousness to anyone. More
Because of his sacrificial death for us, Christ alone has satisfied the just requirement of God’s law, something which we nor the saints could ever do. Scripture therefore, calls only Christ our Mediator. More
“It is written.” This was a favorite saying of the prophets, the evangelists, the apostles, and Jesus. Sometimes it is phrased as a questions: “What is written?” More
External is not eternal. These outward things will never secure everlasting life. Furthermore, they will never give us peace. The heart must be changed by God for these things to be ours. 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
I have convictions... If I dare to make those things qualifications for your righteousness and salvation, please take me to task. More
The Church is that gathering of saints where the Gospel is correctly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. More
Scripture does not tell us that Mary is the victory over sin and death, not does it even hint at such things. Christ conquered death for Mary and for us all. More
The one who died but lives again causes us to live forevermore through faith in him. Jesus tells us that it is his voice that the dead will one day hear when some will be resurrected to eternal life. More
No saints are named by Paul (or any other writer in the New Testament) as responsible for the act of cleansing the church. Christ alone has made the church holy. More
No one draws near to a king unless he is commanded to do so. Therefore, if you wish to have the king’s ear, it must be done through one who is already in the king’s presence—and to whom the king will listen. More
Jesus said that whoever comes to him would never again hunger or thirst (John 6:35). Now that is satisfaction: to never be hungry or thirsty—and to never worry about being filled. More
Everything that we have comes from God. Both our physical and spiritual lives are gifts. Since all comes from God, why would we think righteousness and eternal life come from another source? More
It pleases God to answer our prayers when we pray according to his will. So, just as we are careful to ask that his “will be done” in heaven, we should be as concerned that God’s “will be done on earth.” More
Christian prayer must be founded upon both God’s promise and the merits of Christ. We may confidently approach God because he has promised to hear our prayers. More
God’s law and holiness demands perfect holiness from us. Sadly, we do not act so devoutly. The just punishment for our failure is death. Happily, God sent Christ to become our substitute. More
The rest that Jesus gives is rest despite the work, and further, regardless of the troubles of life. Jesus provides something more than physical rest; he gives spiritual rest, comfort, and peace. More
Jesus is teaching us to have confidence in God each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, saying “Our Father.” Who else addresses the Father than his children? More
More than 80 times in the Old and New Testaments, the prophets, apostles, and others indicate the importance of what has been written in the Bible as a test of truth. More
What we are really discussing here is God’s ability to keep his promises. Does he forgive and justify those who have faith in Christ? Or not? We confess that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and does so for Christ’s sake More
It is no accident that solus Christus (through Christ alone) was as central a slogan of the Reformation as sola fide (by faith alone). We have bold access to God through Christ alone. More
“The prayer of faith” is an important dimension in Lutheran Christianity. But like too many other Christians we may have developed a misunderstanding of the prayer of faith. More
One cannot invoke the saints of heaven with confident faith because the practice is based on human tradition instead of Scripture. It is based on the word of man, not upon the Word of God. More
If we teach as command, promise, or an example to be followed that which is not found in Scripture, we run the risk of heresy and worse, pulling others down with us. More
Why is there so much confusion about this matter, other than that Scripture is ignored, in favor of human traditions? The prayers of saints and angels do not compare to the prayers of Jesus. More
We have already noted two honors that we ought to give to the saints: thanksgiving and the strengthening of faith. Let us be clear what we mean by honor. The honor that we give to “sleeping” saints is not the veneration of their images or praying to them. More
Who could be more guilty of sin toward Christ and his Church than Saul of Tarsus, who would become better know as the Apostle Paul? Because of his persecution of Christians, Paul eventually considered himself to be the greatest of all sinners. More
To be sure, the Confession is not referring to the invocation of saints. Rather, like Paul, the Lutheran Reformers taught the churches to honor those who have been made holy and called saints because of their faith in Christ. More
Let us clarify our terms again. Saints are those who have been made holy by God’s grace; they are not those whom we have declared holy. Indeed, they are those whom God has declared holy for Christ’s sake. More
We receive salvation, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit because of God’s grace—not because we deserve these gifts or have earned them. There is no merit in keeping the law, since it cannot save us, even if we could keep it, which we cannot do at any rate. More
We do good works for three principal reasons. One, we are to bear good fruit so that God is glorified, and two, to prove that we are real disciples of Jesus. Doing good in Christ’s name not only shows others whom we follow, it also shows us that we are his disciples. 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
We confess that for salvation, nothing else needs to be added to faith in Christ, or what is also called belief. Much is said in the record of Scripture about doing good works but never so that one would be justified with God by doing those works. More
A promise has been made. All that remains is for us is to believe in God’s commitment to save us from sin. There is no need to do something in order to obtain his promise More
Anyone who earnestly reads the Bible will soon observe that the teaching that we obtain the forgiveness of sins by faith freely for Christ’s sake has its foundation everywhere in the Bible. More
When medicine cannot revive you, and doctors are of no use, and when death is imminent, your good works will give you no solace. You must have a reliable treatment for your condition when the despair of sin and death overwhelm you. More
We must hold the ground of the gospel and not give an inch. When the choice is between Scripture and tradition, the choice is clear even if it is sometimes difficult. More
The Father’s purpose in sending his Son into the world was so that the Christ would bear our sins. Nowhere has God’s plan been that we should bear our own iniquities. More
God, who is faithful and just, forgives us of all sins and cleanses us from unrighteousness. He alone is legally and ethically righteous and honorable to forgive. He is the just justifier. More
It is hard to believe. But it is true and must be believed. Christ came to save poor sinners—and he does not need our help. Our works are not the way; Christ is. Religion is not the truth; Christ is. Our devotion is not the life; Christ is. More
The gospel clearly teaches that people are forgiven for Christ’s sake. The Apostle Paul instructs us in no uncertain terms that we are not saved from sin and death because of our works. More
God did not establish a world where sin existed. He created all good things and all things good. He did not create evil. Nevertheless, it is within his will that we may sin—otherwise, we could do no evil. 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
Everyone is able to abide by the laws of the land, else the Scripture would not command us to do so. Furthermore, one may choose to obey the laws of the land or not. More
Faith is a gift from God; it is not something that we can conjure by reason or industry. Do you truly fear, love, and trust God? Then you have been regenerated or born again and faith is at work in you. More
A person who is not enlightened by God’s Holy Spirit—an “unspiritual” or “natural” person—does not, by natural reasoning or abilities, perceive or receive anything pertaining to God’s will and divine gifts. More
But when one comes to the understanding that he is a sinner, through and through, always has been, and always will be, that person may then have the hope of finally pleasing God. More
Without the Spirit, people walk along the natural course of the world. This is the path of sin and death. We cannot do otherwise; we cannot move toward God on our own. More
Without having ever taken a confirmation class, everybody knows that they should honor their parents. Do we need to understand that it is the sixth commandment in order to know we ought to be faithful to our spouses? More
Lutherans reject the Pelagians and others who teach that we are able to love God above all things and keep his commandments by the power of human nature alone, without the grace of the Holy Spirit. More
Because Jesus rose again from the dead, we confess that on the last day of the world, he will bring with him all who have died in the Lord to be with him forever. More
As God has established all civil authorities, he would have us pray for them—whether we like them or not. Christian love demands that we hold them before God in prayer. More
Because Jesus said, “Do not take an oath at all,” we may feel guilty when we do make contractual promises. The issue here is not what we sometimes think it is. More
It is dangerous to souls for us to concede that anything people do produces perfection. We are only made perfect by God through faith in Christ. More
It is God who makes us perfect. There is nothing we can do or not do, possess or not possess, that makes us perfect or complete in the eyes of God. More
If someone wrongs you, are you to take matters into your own hands, taking vengeance on the one who has wronged you? No; vengeance is the Lord’s. More
When the Lord says that vengeance is his, one way his retribution is felt is through our governments, the political kingdoms in which we live. More
The gospel does not give us new laws, nor does it call us to replace existing laws with the old Jewish law code. Instead, we are to obey the laws of the land while also living according to the rule of a higher kingdom, a spiritual kingdom. More
Christ does not rule like earthly rulers, through the passing of laws and the enforcement of the same. He governs by his Word and through preaching. More
God is the final authority; all authority comes from him. Every governing power exists because of God. This is why Christians may serve in public office or be otherwise employed by governments. More
I was declined in a congregation’s consideration as a new pastor once, in part, because the church I was serving at the time did not use the Nicene Creed as much as the church in deliberation. More
What difference does it make if you eat so-called unclean foods? Will you go to hell because you ate some rabbit stew? Will God withhold his forgiveness because you had a pork chop? More
Start to read through the Bible in a year, and you will probably get behind at some point. Guilt will likely set in, especially if you do not catch up right away. More
It serves us well to discipline these human wills, bringing them in line with the will of God. This the very thing we ask so often, praying, “Thy will be done.” 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
Holy Communion is not a ritual that is to be performed as though it were a good work done by us. Communion is a means of grace, something done by God for us and for Christ’s sake. More
Toward the end of my pastorate in her church, I visited Lucy on a day when she seemed a little upset about something that she could not put into words. More
Jesus says, “Hear and understand.” This is important. A person’s righteousness is not earned in the keeping of traditions or rituals or doing good works. More
Do you have hope? If so, what is the reason for your hope? The Apostle Peter says that we should be ready to give a reliable reason for the hope that is in us. More
Christ alone has the authority to institute rites in the Church that justify, reconcile, and forgive. Why is it though, that the Church or its bishops cannot establish these ceremonies? More
If we are going to follow a command of God, let us keep this one: believe in his Son, Jesus Christ. For “this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” More
When one takes time for study of the Scripture, it is easily discovered that no one merits God’s favor, forgiveness, et cetera through these human traditions in the Church. More
How can there be a secure and sincere hope of glory when that hope is based in one’s own ability to perform? That would be to despair of glory. Our hope is based on a truer self than self. More
There is no need to enter a religious order to be righteous or lead a holy life. Christ makes husbands, wives, and parents as holy as priests. More
Human righteousness tends to look down its nose at those not religious in the same way. It is always watching to see what others are not doing so that it can compare all it does. More
I have enjoyed wearing the most comfortable jeans. But it seems that just a few months after I get them broken in, they wear out and I have to start all over. Who knows how many pairs of jeans I have worn out in my life? More
Maintaining rites for the sake of order in the Church is one thing. But to contend that these rites justify God is in opposition to the doctrine of the Apostles, and contrary to both the Old and New Testaments. More
We will surely sink, for our focus has become the wind of our opinions, instead of Christ. When this happens, even those things meant for good order will divide us. More
The face of Christianity is changing in many places. Things that were once considered true because they are the testimony of Scripture, are now cast aside in favor of personal and public opinion. More
Since rituals invented by people—instead of those instituted by God—have no testimony in the Word of God and no demand on his people, how could they have anything to do with real unity in the Church? More
Our own will—and willpower—has nothing to do with being part of the family or kingdom of God. We are reborn into the kingdom of Christ because of faith in the King of the kingdom. More
Our robes are washed and whitened—that is to say, we are cleansed from sin—through the blood of the Lamb. This is not done at the neighborhood laundromat; it must be believed. More
The highest service of God is to have faith in him. There is nothing you can do that is more precious to God than to trust him, believing his promises—to have faith, which is “more precious than gold.” More
“You can’t make this stuff up,” people sometimes say when they hear something incredible—like the guy who called 911 because he was locked in his car. You can’t make this stuff up. More
There is no clearer teaching in all of Scripture than that which teaches us how and why we receive grace. God’s grace is received by faith, and only for Christ’s sake. More
God does not start a process that we must then finish. The Father sent his Son to accomplish a mission, not to partially complete the task. That task was to save the world through faith in Christ. More
God did not tell Abraham that if he kept certain traditions and fulfilled various commands, that he would be blessed. Rather, he promised him a son and descendants that would bless the whole world. More
The traditions of the Church, though often useful for devotional purposes, can not make us right with God. Pastors and priests are not mediators between God and sinners. But they can point the way. And that way—the only way—is Christ. More
I do not have a truck payment this month. In fact, I have not had to make my monthly payments for years. By making regular payments until my debt to the bank was paid off, I received the title to the truck. More
God has accomplished something wonderful that the wisdom of the wise will never comprehend, the strength of the strong will not possess, and the piety of the religious can never earn. More
We love a lie, especially when it seems like it just might be true. That kind of untruth seems to be especially attractive. More
Our works will never earn us salvation, nor were they meant to do so. We cannot reconcile ourselves to God, earn his grace, or otherwise make satisfaction for our sins by keeping the law. More
The Golden Rule is another way of stating the second half of the greatest commandment. It helps us put the commandment into action by telling us how to love our neighbor as ourselves. More
Is the result of your doctrine love or hate, peace or discord? Do you find that you are often agitated with people, politics, the news, life in general? More
When there are divisions in the Church that are based in human reasons or traditions, they must be either resolved or condemned. In the end, after patient and prayerful dialogue, only the truth must stand. More
There should be a form of order and discipline in the Church, as there is in every organization. The Lutherans had no squabble with the Roman Church about the ordering of such matters. More
One must believe that God acts in the sacraments according to his promises. This is not difficult to comprehend. Simply going through the motions of a ritual is of no effect. More
When the sacrament is used with faith in God to do as he promises, great comfort is had, and anxious minds are conferred the peace of God, who is Christ Jesus himself. More
What advantage are the sacraments if they are not believed, if there is no faith in the promises attached to them? Without faith in the Word of God connected with it, baptism is only water More
Faith is absolutely necessary. Christianity is not a list of things to do; it is faith in the one who has done what we could never do. More
God does command his people to pray. Rewards are promised to those who pray. However, there is no promise of grace attached to prayer. More
We do not quarrel over whether marriage is instituted by God. Still, it is not commanded that all marry but only that there is faithfulness among those who do marry. More
There are groups who claim that there is something better than God’s Word. They believe that the Holy Spirit counsels them directly, without the aid of Scripture. More
The Bible says much about the command to preach and teach the Word, and to administer the sacraments. It bids the Church to appoint such persons who are called to this ministry of Word and Sacrament. More
Every Christian is a priest before God. Each Christian’s faith in God’s grace is representative of the old priesthood. It is faith itself that is is the duty of the new priesthood—not ceremonies More
Are we to make sacrifices? Yes. For example, John teaches us that we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. Paul teaches us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. More
By definition, confirmation and extreme unction, or last rites, are not sacraments. They do not contain the clear command of God in Scripture, nor do they have a promise of his grace. More
We find in God’s gracious commands, in the sacraments, the essence of New Testament. For these things must be received in faith. We must come before the Word with soft, believing hearts. More
The sacraments have the express command of God for all the people of God. Go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching (Matt 28:19–20). More
The sacraments are not merely indicators of who we are, in the sense of someone thinking that since a group baptizes in water, and ceremonially eats bread and drinks wine, they must be Christians. More
There are times when it is difficult to believe that God really loves us. When we sin, we sense an estrangement with God that must somehow be overcome. The instinct is to make an offering... More
There are no confessed sins that Christ Jesus cannot or will not forgive. Therefore there is no confessed sin for which a minister of the gospel cannot and should not give absolution. More
The purpose of the keys involves both peace and terror. For those who believe in Christ and confess their sins, there is the comfort of knowing that they are forgiven because Christ alone is God’s satisfaction. More
Where is it written? Where do the Scriptures teach that we pay the price of freedom from eternal death? How do our punishments replace the excelling merit of Christ’s satisfaction for sin? More
In order for us to produce good fruits, we must depend upon God’s promises. We must have faith in him. Otherwise, we would eventually despair of doing much, if any, good. More
Does God say to do something? Then it must be done. You shall love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself. These are not options. More
You may have all of the outward signs of a Christian but if you neglect the greatest commandment, you are headed for trouble. More
Repentance means a changed mind. We might think of it as a change of heart. It follows that a real change of heart would include different fruits or results in that person’s life. More
God will do what he must for the good of those he loves—even if it means inflicting them with some corrective troubles. Perhaps the psalmist’s bones were not actually broken but... More
It has long been known that sparing the rod creates spoiled brats. Just like good, earthly parents, God sometimes punishes us so that we will not spoil. More
When a child says, “I’m sorry,” sometimes a parent responds, “Then act like it.” This is no different than the relationship that a child of God has with the Father. More
Works of repentance are required of us. They are not non-compulsory things that we can use to purchase our redemption or righteousness. More
Saul of Tarsus was a scholar, presumably with good eyesight, able to read scrolls and manuscripts. Then he was blinded by God on the Damascus road. More
Many people think that our troubles originate in our sins. Often enough, this is precisely the case—but not always. Sometimes our troubles are meant to point us and others to the glory and the power of God. More
We should learn to regard our troubles as signs of impending grace. God is at work in these afflictions. When we have gotten to the other side, we can see that suffering drew us back to God, and caused us to rely upon him, and persevere. More
In the reasoning of God, we are to be holy, yet we are not holy, nor can we become holy, so God makes us holy through Christ. This does not make sense to our natural reason. More
God may impose certain punishments for sins, by way of making an example of some people, and to discipline others. But these punishments are corrections and examples, not a means of grace and forgiveness. More
Life happens. There are going to be troubles throughout life. All of them, whether they come from God or not, are allowed by his will. More
Martin Luther proclaimed in his sermon, “On the Hymn of Zacahrias,” that as long as we are clothed with this flesh, sin is not extinguished, nor can be wholly subdued. More
God disciplines his children because he loves them. He does not require this discipline as some means of grace. For how could this be grace, if it is required of us to endure? More
The human heart that is heartily sorry always turns to God. But when we are not really contrite, we seek human remedies to our guilt. More
Imagine a husband or wife who has truly wronged his or her spouse, offering a box of chocolates, a bouquet of roses, or even a fancy meal, in an effort to gain their forgiveness. More
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ involves taking up one’s cross and following him. That means one is willing to die rather than stop trusting God. More
When we imagine that there is something we can do to appease God’s wrath toward our sin, we soon discover that we have deceived ourselves. More
We are threatened on every side. Ten things are listed in Romans 8:37–39, over which we have no power or control. Indeed, the tenth thing Paul lists is anything not mentioned in the first nine. More
Do not make the mistake of thinking that you need to do something special to conjure up the feeling of religious success. More
He would have us do good and seek justice because he commands these righteous acts. However, the works themselves do not make us righteous More
Honest people should be able to admit that they do not keep even the one, greatest commandment (Deut 6:5), let alone all of God’s law. More
Is life a sort of tag-team match, in which Christ has wrestled Satan to the mat but now it is our turn in the ring, and we must pin the devil? More
Melancthon seems to depend upon the Vulgate (the Latin translation) here. The Old Testament of the Luther Bibel would not be available for three more years. More
Do good works because God commands them to be done and because they bring him glory. But never hold the delusion that by doing good works, your sins will be forgiven or you will go to heaven. More
The commands of God’s Word are not negotiable. We are obliged to obey God. To disobey is to sin. After sinning, we are unable to work off those sins by either deeds or devotion. More
Scrub and scrub; scour as much as you like. Invent cleansing agents, potions, and rituals. You will still be unclean. The stain of your guilt will remain before the Lord. More
Jesus Christ is so completely holy and meritorious before the Father that he is holy and worthy for me. God is so pleased with his Son that he is well-pleased with those who believe in him. More
If one may buy off the need for the satisfaction, what then really, is the point—that if we have enough money, we may buy God’s remission of temporal punishments? More
When Scripture tells us to repent it is not speaking of something one may do beyond this life. All that goes with repentance is to be done in this life. More
Good works are mandatory. But they do not appease the wrath of God against sin. Repentance is required, as it is commanded by Christ (Matt 4:17). More
We are either slaves to the devil, sin, and death, or to God, righteousness, and life. Whichever we are bonded to will determine the fruit we get. The fruit or the wages of sin is death. More
We are indebted to God in Christ to no longer live in the sin for which he died. This does not mean that we no longer sin, for as long as we are in this flesh, this mortal body, there is sin and death. More
The only one who is able to heal you, restore your soul, and give you peace, is near you right now. He is “at hand.” So there is no need for anxiety. More
Political and civil peace would be nice. Family peace would be a true blessing for many people. And of course, better finances and health would afford to many a certain peace of mind. More
When I was a boy, I learned to carry a full cup of coffee to my father. I walked through the kitchen, down the carpeted hallway, and in to the living room, then handed it to him without having spilled a drop. More
People doubt from time to time. Jesus said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). It is unrealistic to think that everyone will always be strong in faith. More
Life is hard enough without those in authority leading people astray. Scripture teaches us to have faith in Christ for forgiveness and justification. More
Misrepresentation of Holy Scripture will upset the faith of some, those who have itching ears, but also those who are unlearned. Such deception even leads people into lives of ungodliness. More
It is important for us to keep the faith—both in the sense continuing to believe in God, and in remaining true to the Word of God. More
It has already been stated here, more than a few times, that genuine faith is shown in its works. This is an entirely different matter than saying that forgiveness happens because of those works. More
Lutherans confess with Scripture that sinners are justified before God—that is, absolved of all sins and condemnation, without any worth or work of their own—through God’s pure grace. More
In the worldly kingdom, there are many disciplines we might bring to bear in order to make things more civil and orderly. Requiring certain satisfactions can even make folks feel better for a time. More
We do well to appeal to the highest authority. The academics of scholastic theology turned to Peter Lombard, who wrote the standard medieval texts on theology, as their authority. More
Guilt and punishment alike are borne by God in Christ alone. We are set free from all bondage—from waterless pits to the depths of hell—because God promised to do so. More
It bears repeating: our love, devotion, good works, and religious activities do not satisfy God’s justice. Only God’s Son propitiates, appeases, or satisfies God’s just demand for holiness. More
Recently, a car rental company called, wanting to know when I was going to pay the bill on a transaction from over a month ago. I let them know that the company had paid that bill, informing them of the transaction details More
God’s justice requires the punishment of sin. We either take the punishment or pay the penalty. However, we cannot make restitution. We can neither keep from sinning, nor pay the penalty of that sin. More
It doesn’t mater how far you have fallen, how respectable you are, or if you are downright notorious; God cleanses the worst of sinners. More
Your remorse does not merit God’s forgiveness. Being sorry—even though you go on at length about your specific regrets—does not repair your sinful condition or your broken fellowship with God. More
Luther, in particular, was tortured by guilt, and would therefore wear out his confessor with hours of specific lists of sins. More
So, the penitent must always be reminded of God’s grace. For God has promised to not remember our sins. He does so for Christ’s sake... More
We have been born again to the image of Christ. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is causing us to grow up into new people who share the mind of Christ. More
Anyone who wants to achieve righteousness or justification with God through religious devotion, doing good deeds, or by other things they imagine gain them merit with God, will be dreadfully unsuccessful. More
We are in bondage to sin, just as the ancient Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians. We can no more free ourselves than they could. More
Always interpret Scripture in the plainest sense, using the clear meaning of the words. If a parable is being used, we might allow our minds to wonder what Jesus meant—until he tells us plainly. More
God is the Judge from whom no secrets are hidden. Yet he is Judge of a different kind of court than we may have experienced... More
These are the words of forgiveness—or indeed, the refusal of forgiveness. These messengers open the gates of heaven, and shut them as well. More
An indulgence was a certificate purchased with either prayers, good works, or money, that claimed to reduce the amount of one’s time spent in Purgatory. More
Of what use is repentance, if it is merely being sorry for sins and then doing something good? People will remain in guilt, knowing that they are never good enough to merit forgiveness. More
Because the guiltless and incarnate God died for our iniquities, bearing upon himself the sin of the world, he carried our sins to the grave. More
Should you try not to sin? Certainly; but your ability or inability has nothing to do with forgiveness. Should you be sorry when you sin, and seek to do better? Absolutely, yet again, this has nothing to do with forgiveness of sin. More
Faith must always be in the forefront because it makes us think of Christ. Even sorrow, though necessary but, because it naturally causes us to try to settle our own sins, must never be considered alone. More
Let us be reasonable. Were we to depend upon our own righteousness and faithfulness, who could survive the wrath of God? They are deluded and arrogant persons... More
Someone better make us holy and righteous or we are in eternal trouble. We have faith that Jesus was sent by his Father to accomplish this very thing. More
It is not possible for someone to have a peaceful conscience, if they doubt that God is gracious toward them. No matter how hard they try to do right and be religious, they still question whether they have forgiveness of sins. More
James is speaking to the topic of receiving wisdom from God in this passage of Scripture. However, the same exhortation may be applied to anything one asked of God. Ask in faith. Believe! More
How can I keep the law without Christ’s help? I cannot, for I will either not do it at all, do it imperfectly, or as likely as not, do it with an impure devotion. More
Cleansing from sins has always been necessary to God. Atonement has been required since the earliest days of Judaism. Even the first sin needed covering with death. More
If we believe that we must keep the law in order to be forgiven by God, then we are saying that justification, righteousness, and forgiveness are not matters over which Christ has any power. More
The law incarcerates; it does not free. Only faith in Christ frees us from captivity to sin and death. Yet thank God for the law, for without its accusations, we would never know our need for salvation and God’s grace. More
Believe the promise of the gospel; it is the truth. Know that Christ’s own righteousness has been granted to you as protection against sin and death. 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
Think for a moment how silly it would be for a person to look in the mirror and say, “You’ve been so good lately; I forgive you.” More
We preach and confess that Christ died for our sins and saves all those who believe. The world responds, “What kind of babbling is this?" More
Faith in Christ arouses good works, but it is faith in Christ that receives forgiveness. Although God certainly wills that we speak and do good, our salvation does not depend upon such goodness. More
It was common in Jesus’ time for people to think their physical ailments and disabilities were the result of their sins. Think of the paralyzed man being carried on a cot to Jesus. More
We must be sure to believe in the word of God, not the words of men. The testimony of men reasons that we must do good things to appease an angry God. More
In C. S. Lewis’ poem, “As the Ruin Falls,” he writes, “a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek.” People may sound authoritative; indeed, some birds may seem so. But by their singing, one may determine what sort of birds these authorities are. More
The doctrine of justification by faith is one for which people have given their lives. Luther himself, knowing that his life would be forfeit, declared that his conscience was captive to the Word of God, not to the doctrines of men. More
We are saved, forgiven, and made righteous through faith in God’s Christ. There is no other way (John 14:6); there is no shortcut. More
The whole of Scripture proclaims that forgiveness of sins is received only through faith in Christ. Those who suppose that God forgives their sins because they are good people, are led astray by their vain imaginings. More
Everyone acknowledges that, “You can’t take it with you.” Common sense wisdom understands that our works have no eternal value. So why do some try to stack them up as having merit with God? Belief in God’s promises is what counts as righteousness. More
The forgiveness of sins is received—not earned. Now a sizeable portion of the Church thinks otherwise. Yet this is clearly what Scripture teaches us. Forgiveness is received by faith. More
If you cannot believe God’s promise then you may as well insist that the sun will rise in the west tomorrow morning. For if you cannot believe that which is most sure, how certain is anything else that has been taken for granted up until now? More
Promises are laughable words, unless received with faith. Abraham and Sarai were promised a son in their advanced old age. Abraham laughed; he laughed so hard that he fell to the ground. More
We cannot place our trust in works wrought by ourselves. Surely, this is evident to everyone. Who among us has been found faithful—even to his own intentions? More
Being sorry for our sin does not merit forgiveness. You probably heard a retort something like this at some point in your life: “Sorry doesn’t fix what you broke.” More
These are important distinctions. Faith is different than sorrow or contrition. It is also different from devotion or works of penance. Faith stands apart, believing in the Redeemer... More
In this passage, we see two kinds of sinners. One is dull in spirit, self-absorbed, and very capable of seeing the sin in others but unable to see it in himself. The second is overcome with sorrow over her sin. More
When David was brought up short by the knowledge of his secret sin, he was contrite and confessed his sin. After his confession, the prophet Nathan spoke words of forgiveness from the Lord. More
After we take the tantalizing fruit of sin, a frightening self-consciousness overwhelms us. All we want to do is cover our sin and hide from God. This terror is contrition; and it is not enough. More
The promise, though veiled, goes all the way back to Genesis. That very first sin demanded the declaration of a Savior from the loving God. For from those tragic bites of forbidden fruit... More
How strange it must seem to a child, for the parent who loves, to also seem so angry. For the threat of an oncoming car does not concern the unknowing child who is chasing a ball into the street. More
Life and death are in God’s hands. And there is nothing that we can do to deliver ourselves from the grave. The foolish harden their hearts to this fact of life. But the wise are contrite. More
Our ways lead us to certain death. They are low and dusty, clinging to the world and sin. Yet, God is always calling us to the way of life. More
We are in bondage to the flesh: these bodies of death with their natural inclinations that serve the law. We are bound by nature to sin “in thought, word, and deed.” More
It is the height of arrogance for someone to think that justification occurs through the human acts of contrition, devotion, or other acts of love or good works More
Paul speaks plainly about these two parts of repentance. He writes that we are dead to sin, this taking place through our baptism. More
It is not enough to only believe the history of the gospel. One must have faith in the one who is the incarnate gospel. One must trust in Christ for the remission of sins. More
To think of repentance in terms of contrition alone is to act in accordance with the law. This is unstable ground since it depends upon the person who is sorry for their sin. More
God has always been ready to forgive. Proof of his willingness is the ways he has provided for people to have faith and turn to him. More
Here is one of the surest and most obvious ways that the Lord’s Prayer is answered. We pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” More
The promise of divine grace is received through hearing the gospel. This hearing occurs in many ways. It is received through the reading of the Scripture, both individually and corporately. More
We cannot fear, love, and trust God without faith. In other words, we cannot keep even the first of the commandments without faith, let alone the rest of the law. More
The witless child who does not believe his parents got him a birthday present, will never enjoy the gift. Perhaps he was sorry for having been a disobedient child but just could not accept that his parents loved him nonetheless. More
If repentance is only a matter of sorrow for sin, then human nature tries to appease God. But we cannot appease God by any means. More
As long as we live in this flesh, we will experience all of these feelings. For the law will never cease to accuse us of sin. More
We are very weak. Jesus reminds us if this fact of our human nature. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” More
Simply stated, contrition is when a person, because of love or fear, stops defending sin and confesses it instead. More
Repentance begins with a heart that is moved toward God’s mercy and then has faith that he forgives for Christ’s sake More
The Lutherans, on the other hand, confessed that the power of the keys was the authority of Christ spoken by any confessor, and dependent upon two things: contrition and faith. More
The fault with indulgences lies not only in who it is that forgives sin, but in what this forgiveness costs. God’s gracious forgiveness is a gift. More
Going to church, doing good works, being president of Council, having perfect attendance, teaching Sunday School, and even knowing all three of the ecumenical creeds by heart mean nothing without faith. More
The Lutherans however, confessed that everything hinges on Christ. He bore our sin on the cross so that we would be made “the righteousness of God.” More
We have to admit that our sins are great in number, that they have gone over our heads as if if we were drowning in our iniquities. Who could confess such a volume of transgressions? More
So today, we ought to be teaching our people that God forgives sins for Christ’s sake, not because we perform certain rituals. More
The power of the keys binds things in heaven, not just on earth. When a “door” is unlocked or locked on earth in the name of Christ, it is done in heaven too. More
So we confess that our holiness, our works of contrition, is insufficient for the remission of sins, while faith in Christ merits forgiveness of sin... More
It is not enough to be sorry for our sin. Nor is it enough to do good. For we cannot assist ourselves. Instead, we must avail ourselves of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. More
Although we should certainly “fear, love, and trust God” (Small Catechism), these things, including the fear of God (attrition), do not earn grace. More
You cannot reason or work your way into God’s grace. God’s grace is a free gift, something that is given by him for you. More
Since the consequence of sin is death, it is no wonder there is the felt need to confess all sins. Perhaps, we might imagine, if we could confess them all, we might overcome death. More
“We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves” (Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness). More
The first step in repentance is being contrite. God does not desire sacrifices from us, in order to appease him (Psa 51:16). More
There is nothing confusing about the gospel when it is heard with the ears of faith. We confess that Christ has killed our sinful old nature through his own death on the cross. More
Our anxieties about sin may be managed on the surface with words and semantics, but when the test is applied in the heart, these matters turn out differently. More
Look to the Word. What is written? How far does God say that he hurls our offenses? “As far as the east is from the west,” is how far he removes our sins from us. More
The power of the keys is the clear charge of Christ to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), to remit and retain sins, and administer the sacraments. More
Around the time of the Reformation, there was endless quibbling in the Church about how and when things happened. In More
Peace is only found in the grace of God. This is why Peter says, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Who does this math? More
The doctrine of faith is no small matter, for true repentance depends upon faith. Repentance needs faith to believe that God is so merciful toward us that our sins have been forgiven for Christ’s sake. More
What are we to do but to turn again and again to Christ? The heart of this turning, this repentance, is faith. We believe that in turning from our sins to Christ, those sins are blotted out. More
God creates clean hearts within us. This happens when we are first, stricken in our consciences, and then, have faith that God will forgive us and make us righteous for Christ’s sake. More
Confession must lead to Christ—not to more and more confession. Christ is the focus, not ourselves. Therefore forgiveness must be the outcome of confession, not the tyranny of a guilty conscience. More
Only a foolish or crazed person would undertake the task of counting the hairs on his head. There are too many to count. More
The imposition of rules and regulations will change no heart. The Holy Spirit changes hearts. The crucified Christ draws people near. More
As has been stated before, our focus should be Christ, not our sins. One can spend so much time in introspection and the endless recounting of sin that Christ is lost in the shuffle. More
Confession precedes Holy Communion. We are to earnestly confess our sins and hear the words of absolution before receiving Christ. More
As Christ is known to us in the breaking of the bread, the early Church assembled to know Christ in his Supper, the Apostles’ teaching, prayer, and fellowship. More
Confession and absolution provide persons of faith with the regular assurance that their sins are forgiven because of what Christ has accomplished for them. More
People recoil at the idea of fearing God because they believe that God loves them. “Why should I fear someone who loves me?” they might ask. More
Holy Communion is not something that we do; it is something that God does for us. It is not an act or ritual that we perform; it is an activity of God that we receive. More
We have been talking about Holy Communion, Baptism, the Church, justification, and other matters but in all of these topics, we are actually considering faith. More
Jesus called the bread that he broke and gave to his disciples to eat, “my body.” He said of the cup, “This is my blood.” This is what we believe. More
This participation, as the Revised and English Standard versions translate the word, is a fellowship or, as the King James Version phrases it, a communion. More
God gives authority to people to speak and act in his name through Holy Baptism. The pastor seems to be the one using the water, and if that were all the pastor did then that would be all there was to see. More
The universal grace and promise of the gospel is just that: universal. It is not applied to everyone except some persons. More
The divine promises of grace and of the Holy Spirit do not belong to the old alone, as if Jesus, who loved little ones, would have them wait for his promises. More
When a child, or anyone else in a household or family, is baptized, the will of God, the promise of God’s salvation is realized. The work of salvation continues however... 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
The words of Christ spoken over the bread and wine insure the promise of grace to those who believe. When we speak his word over the elements, he is truly present in them. More
I like to sing the “Kyrie” in worship. For that matter, I love to sing the entire liturgy, including the intonation of the Psalm. Some of our churches do not sing the liturgy; they speak the words. More
The truth of the gospel is that righteousness and salvation come through faith in Christ. This is the word that sets us free. More
We may well suppose that if two Lutheran churches in the same county celebrated Easter on different Sundays that people would have something to say. More
There is nothing wrong with celibacy or fasting or many other disciplines. Even in marriage, abstinence can be a good thing, if the couple agrees together to abstain for some spiritual purpose. More
If others wish to abstain from certain foods on certain days, that is between those people and the Lord. Do not let them convince you that abstinence is a matter of righteousness. More
“It is written.” This was a favorite saying of the prophets, the evangelists, the apostles, and Jesus. Sometimes it is phrased as a questions: “What is written?” More
External is not eternal. These outward things will never secure everlasting life. Furthermore, they will never give us peace. The heart must be changed by God for these things to be ours. More
How heartbreaking it would be to run in a race, and to run so swiftly that you won the race, only to find out that you had been disqualified because of a false start or a lane violation. More
I have convictions... If I dare to make those things qualifications for your righteousness and salvation, please take me to task. More
The Church is that gathering of saints where the Gospel is correctly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. More
We are not big on excommunication these days. But we still do a pretty fair job of driving people out of our churches. More
If you believe these things, we agree that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God”—no matter the particular manner of our ceremonies. More
The effectiveness of the sacraments depends upon Christ. Were you baptized in a stream or at a font, at the hands of a priest or a pastor, by a saint or a sinner? More
Every pastor who presides over Holy Communion is a sinner. Some are worse sinners than others. Some do not even believe in Christ or the Word of God. More
It is the duty of pastors to preach the gospel. It is each church’s obligation to make sure that they do. Yet, it is more than a duty; it is a joyful compulsion. More
The prophet Daniel represented the Antichrist along similar lines as this sarcastic paragraph from the Confessions. There is no ruler of rulers but Christ. More
We should not expect everyone in a collar or alb to represent the kingdom of God. Every preacher in a pulpit does not necessarily proclaim the Word of God. More
We must not replace Christ with works, offices, masses, or anything else. These things do not save; Christ alone saves and justifies. More

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