The First Step To Shenanigans

O'Hagen: "I swear I'm gonna pistol whip the next person that says shenanigans!"

Thorny: "Hey Farva..."

The first step towards theological shenanigans is...wait for it...

Making Christianity about our choices, will, and taking of Christ.

As opposed to the proper emphasis: God's gracious giving of Christ to us.

The root problem here is that is makes salvation and Christianity in general a cooperative effort. You know, God did His part, now it's up to me to do mine. This is the inevitable first step towards theological purgatory.

But why? Well, there are numerous reasons.

First of all, this denies the efficacy of Christ and His gifts to us. I don't think anyone wants to claim that Christ's gifts are insufficient. But this makes it so. God does not hold Himself out there and beg us, by our will, to take Him. That's not in Scripture anywhere.

Second of all, it leads to one of two places: Pride, or despair. It leads to pride when one thinks they're doing well. Last I checked, God is still God. That means there is no possible way for us to meet His standards by anything we do. And since He still counts His standards as perfect, and us as imperfect...well, do the math. It leads to despair when people recognize that they have not loved the Lord with their whole heart and have not loved their neighbor as themselves.

Third of all, it leads to heretical beliefs and practices. Earning salvation is but one of the things that can possibly seep in here. Telling people to make choices to get saved, saying prayers that magically have Jesus move in to your heart, and other things. Yes, the sinner's prayer is a nonsense invention. There, I said it. I reckon a grand total of zero people have been saved by the sinner's prayer in history. How can I say such mean and awful things? Well, because God saves by His creative Word, given to us in Scripture and the Sacraments. And you know what? That's what the Church catholic has always believed. More so, it's what Scripture clearly tells us.

Fourth of all, it leads to the theologically liberal error that the Gospel is basically just another law to be followed and obeyed. I've heard numerous theologically liberal folks say that the Gospel is summarized in Matthew 22. You know, the passage where Jesus states to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. But that's not the Gospel. That's the summation of the Law! The good news is not our loving. It's Jesus' doing and giving.

The emphasis, and indeed, the whole of salvation, is a one-sided divine gift, given solely by God through specific means by which He has given to us.

I also realize that this rant could be taken the wrong way. So, let me clarify.

1. No, I am not saying that we don't make choices.

2. No, I am not saying that our choices do not have consequences.

3. No, I am not saying that we are not commanded to obey Christ.

4. No, I am not saying that we should not make rational decisions.

5. No, I am not saying that we should just let go and let God. (Quietism)

But I am saying that when it comes to salvation, it is completely and utterly accomplished outside of us (extra nos) by Christ at Calvary and Christ rising from the grave. It is given to us in His creative Word in faithful preaching, the waters of Holy Baptism, the Sacrament of His body and blood for us, and the Absolution pronounced by His called and ordained servants of the Word.

It's a class A, massive, major, big-time, error...to link our cooperation to our gaining of salvation. That ballpark belongs to God alone. He alone saves. He alone works this in us. He alone gives grace. He alone gives faith through His means of grace.

And praise to You, O Christ, for that faith You have so given clings to You alone.

For everything in salvation.


False Teaching, Christian Unity, and Theological Liberalism

Christian unity is one whopper of a topic now days. The simple fact of the matter is that much of mainstream Christianity (i.e. American evangelicalism) has thrust the issue of unity upon the entire Church. We ought to be thankful for that, for unity is indeed a big deal. Jesus' High Priestly Prayer in St. John 17 has much to do with unity.

However, as thankful as we should be for the emphasis on unity within the church, I do believe, on Scriptural grounds, that this common attempt at unity is severely misguided and in many ways very theologically liberal, postmodern, and ultimately unbelieving.

How about we take a lesson from the early church?

It is all too common for the charge to get leveled that Christians who leave a church over doctrine or refuse to accept false teaching in the church as being bad for unity. These people generally get labeled as folks who are splitting the church and are enemies of Christian unity.

Ultimately this accusation is nothing more than theological liberalism with a dash of postmodernism thrown in. This stance ultimately is massively minimalist in their stances, other than they're pretty dogmatic that they're right about being doctrinal minimalists. What do they consider the test of Christian unity? Well, generally, all a person has to do is call themselves a Christian or say they love Jesus. Granted, many churches have statements of faith that they believe, but one needn't be in-line with everything to be a member. That begs the question if they really believe their statement of faith at all.

Should we, as Confessional folks, be in unity with these doctrinal minimalists who demand that we cannot hold our Confessions as standards for unity?

I do not believe so. First of all, what if these persons who affirm they are Christians and love Jesus have some massive and blatantly heretical ideas about Christ. What if these folks outright deny the inerrancy of Scripture? In short, why do postmodern theological liberals get to reduce nearly everything to "secondary issues?" When did Baptism and the Lord's Supper get reduced to secondaries? Why has much of American Evangelicalism followed suit?


Can we be in unity with someone who loves Jesus but denies the Virgin Birth? No.

How about someone who believes Christ was a created being? No.

What about those who deny the efficacy of the Sacraments? No again. This is a big one that gets reduced to secondary.

What about denial of the inerrancy of Scripture? No. This leads to a grab bag. Take what you like and reject the rest.

The list goes on and on and on. And those who separate from churches that tolerate false views are decried as separatists and cancers to the unity of the church.

The bigger question is this: Why aren't these doctrinal minimalists worried at all about false doctrine? Why aren't they worried more about true doctrine? After all, if someone claims to love Jesus, and Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, shouldn't we be precise and cautious about what comes out of our mouths regarding the Crucified King? This should be what we live for. Not some nebulous idea of "love," but Christ. And you know what? Christ is a person and there are specific things about Him that we ought to know.

That brings me to my next point. In Scripture, who are the ones who create disunity? It's not those who earnestly contend for the faith. It's the false teachers. Doctrinal minimalism and acceptance of a plethora of doctrines as secondary won't save you here. Doctrinal minimalism in the name of unity is something that is responsible for disunity. There is no way around that. The other problem is that it was ever tolerated in the church in the first place.

So what should we use as a guide for Christian unity? I would assert that the Church has used the 3 ecumenical creeds for centuries. Can we at least start there? That would eliminate much of the nonsense as acceptable right from the start.

How many churches can affirm the Apostle's, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds? Less than half, I would guess. How many churches can affirm the early church ecumenical councils? I would argue that in this case, far less than half. Why do we throw out all of these Creeds and Councils in the name of unity? These guys knew a lot more than us. We stick them on the back burner and slowly repeat our mantra: We all love Jesus, nothing else matters. Lose your faith, hug your neighbor (and maybe even a tree), and feel the love. It doesn't matter much what you believe, as long as you love Jesus. Unbelieving much?

We seek feelings, and not truth. And if we say differently and challenge false teaching, we get labeled destroyers of unity.

This is completely *against* what Christ's Church has always stood for. God help us.


Creeping Gnostic Means of Grace Denial

The means of grace. The sacraments. The Word. All of these are important terms in Christianity. And there are certainly a plethora of ideas on what constitutes the means of grace and the sacraments now days.

For this post, I'll try to keep it simple. The means of grace are ways through which the Holy Spirit works and gives grace to fallen humanity.

So what is the big deal here? Shouldn't we all be on the same page on this one? After all, the root question behind the discussion here is: How are we saved? How does God give us His grace? Are there specific manners in which He does this? Or are we the means of grace? Does He give us this grace via specific natural means which He has instituted? Or does He give us grace in response to our actions?

There are in essence 3 ideas on this topic and they can't all be correct.

1. God gives us grace in response to our choice of Him. Thus, our faith comes first and grace comes second, as a response.

This is a synergistic error. In essence, this error can take the form of Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism. All orthodox Chirstian bodies have repeatedly rejected this error as heretical. Ecumenical church councils have rejected this, as well as Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed Confessions, documents, and councils.

Ultimately, this view rejects means of grace in the natural world here and now altogether. In short, this view says that grace is given as a result of our decision. This means that this view rejects the sacraments as means of grace.

2. God gives grace first which creates faith, but the Holy Spirit works apart from means via a secret inward call to one of God's elect.

This view is held by *some* Calvinists. In other words, this view says that the Holy Spirit works apart from means and regenerates the elect, who then afterwards believe the Gospel.

Some Calvinists then go on to assert that the means of grace are for our sanctification after we are already regenerate and justified.

This view insists that any means through which the Spirit works violates monergism. They insist that the Holy Spirit is sovereign (true) and works independently apart from means, regenerating the person and creating faith as a gift of God.

There is much to be commended about this view. They correctly recognize that faith is a gift of God and only God Himself imparts it.

The big problem with this view is two-fold. First, in their effort to uphold the sovereignty of God, they fall into a Gnostic error without even realizing it. They basically argue that the Spirit does not use the natural world as means to save the natural world. This view proves too much in the end. I mean, Jesus is a man, right? Granted, none of these folks are interested in denying the incarnation, but why not? It's consistent with their theology in this regard.

3. God uses specific natural means through which He gives grace. The Holy Spirit works through these means in the salvation of sinners.

This is the orthodox view. This view says that God uses natural means through which to work, and these means are clearly described and given to us in Holy Scripture. All means of grace are driven solely by the creative Word of God. The means of grace are the means of grace precisely because God works through them in His creative Word.

In short, in Holy Baptism, we are washed with water and the Word. (Eph 5) It's the Word that gives Baptism it's power. In the Eucharist, we are fed with the Word Himself, receiving the body and blood of Christ. In Holy Scripture, we are given the very Word of God in written or spoken form.

In other words, God has chosen to use the natural world to save the natural world. He uses water, bread, wine, sound waves, and light waves.

Far from removing the sovereignty of God, this orthodox view actually reinforces the sovereignty of God, showing that God can supernaturally create faith and save the natural world by means of the natural world, precisely because God has power and control over the natural world.

Far from rejecting monergism, these means are monergistic and objective. They deliver Christ, who died at Calvary in the natural world, to us in natural means in which God has said He will be present.

What blessed assurance! God saves us by natural means and promises that we are His through these natural means.

How am I saved? Well, Christ saved me 2000 years ago at Calvary. Now He delivers that salvation to me in Baptism and the Eucharist, and gives me His Word in Holy Scripture to back up His promise and deliver me even more assurance.

How do I know I am saved? The means are objective. That's another beauty of it all. God saves me via Word and Sacrament, and I can know I am saved also because of this Word and Sacrament, which deliver me the faith that clings to Christ alone for my salvation.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ~Romans 11:33


One Baptism - Part 2

In my previous post, I briefly surveyed three major beliefs on baptism. We looked at the Baptist view, the Reformed view, and the Lutheran view. I hope that each view was faithfully represented, as I tried to stick to major Confessions of faith from each group.

One Baptism - Part 1

I intentionally skipped over the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Church of Christ views. It's not because these views are not important to learn, but rather for a couple other simple reasons. The Church of Christ views defaults to salvation by obedience or works apart from grace. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox views are roughly similar to the Lutheran view, which I hold to. The debates between the Lutheran and Roman Catholic view tend to revolve around what baptism washes away (in Rome it's original sin for infants) and what makes the baptism effective (Lutheran - God's Word, Rome - the Priest, Holy Water, etc). The last comparison is simplistic, but suffice it to say, we agree that baptism is a means of grace that does something for the recipient from God.

Today we will focus on the Scriptures that speak about baptism as well as the Nicene Creed that speaks about the same. The Creed states: "I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins."

I'm not to deal with all the passages about baptism in the synoptic Gospels or John, but I will deal with a few. Here are the Scriptures fromthe Gospels and Acts.

Matthew 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Mark 16:16: He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

John 3:22: After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing.

Acts 2:38: Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10:47: Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?

Acts 16:15: And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Acts 16:33: And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.

Acts 19:3-5: And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 22:16: Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’

There are a cross-section of Scriptures speaking about baptism from the Gospels and from Acts. Here are some Scriptures from the didactic epistles.

Romans 6:3-4: Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

1 Corinthians 12:13: For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Galatians 3:27: For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Ephesians 4:5: one Lord, one faith, one baptism

Colossians 2:12: having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

1 Peter 3:21: Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

And there are the didactic epistles.

Generally, passages from Acts are descriptive history and the didactic epistles teach us doctrine, although that is not to say that Acts contains no doctrine or that the epistles contain no history. That being said, we are wise to look to the doctrinal epistles to tell us what something is, instead of trying to infer what something is from a historical account. This is true of baptism just as other doctrines.

The only two baptism passages I provided from the synoptic Gospel accounts are the two Great Commission passages. St. Matthew says that disciples are made by baptizing them and teaching them. Or at least, that is the interpretation that the majority of scholars take to the Great Commission passage in Matthew 28. St. Mark says that those who believed and are baptized shall be saved, and unbelievers will be condemned. The passage I provided from St. John's Gospel is important because it helps us understand the new birth discourse between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus speaks of being born from above by water and the Spirit in St. John 3:5. Immediately when the new birth discourse is completed (St. John 3:1-21), Jesus and the Apostles are going around baptizing people. (St. John 3:22) In other words, in a baptism, water and the Spirit are together. One baptism.

St. Matthew places baptism before teaching and St. Mark places believing before baptism. In short, a person cannot be dogmatic based on either of these passages regarding the order of baptism and belief. The best solution, and indeed I would propose the biblical one, is that belief, teaching, and baptism all go together. You can't have belief without teaching, and St. Matthew places baptism first. And a baptism without belief that precedes or follows is condemning. In other words, I don't think St. Matthew or St. Mark are proposing an order here. Neither one of them is saying that every person everywhere must believe first then be baptized after as an outward profession of faith, although we certainly do have ample historical example of first generation Christians believing then being baptized. But we also have ample examples of first generation Christians bringing their entire household to Holy Baptism. Some folks may object that those passages say nothing about infants, and they're right. But the objection is seriously weak. Surely, every single household baptism in Scripture did not involve all adults and adolescents who could articulate a profession of faith and know what baptism is.

I included Acts 10:47 because it shows that sometimes people are saved pre-baptism. We know this to be true. Even as a Lutheran who affirms the efficacy of baptism and indeed, baptismal regeneration, we do not hold that baptism is the only means of grace by which God saves. His Word saves us, and that comes to us in baptism, but also preaching, the Lord's Supper, and absolution. We affirm that baptism is the normal means and the usual means. In other words, it's necessary, but not absolutely necessary.

Acts 19:3-5 is included because it shows that John's baptism and Christian baptism are not completely identical. Tons of overlap for sure.

Acts 22:16 is included because it flatly says that baptism washes away sins.

The didactic epistles, which teach us doctrine, are very clear on this topic. St. Paul says that baptism buries and raises us with Christ in Romans 6, then again says the same thing and says we are actually raised in faith in baptism in Colossians 2. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, we see that it is the Holy Spirit who baptises us into Christ.

On a side note, many Christian churches now days have two baptisms in practice. One is water baptism, and is just a sign and symbol of an inward change. Then they have what is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is based on texts such as Acts 1:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:13.

The obvious problem here is that if this doctrine is true, Ephesians 4:5 is false. If we can change Ephesians 4:5 to two baptisms instead of one baptism, why can't we change it to two Lords and two faiths as well? There would be no reason why we couldn't, and I am sure no Christian is interested in doing that. The solution to this supposed dilemma is not to invent another baptism, but to recognize that Christian baptism is one, and it contains water and the Spirit. One baptism with water and the Holy Spirit. Not two.

That's why I include passages like Acts 2:38. This is talking about Christian baptism and St. Peter includes water and the Holy Spirit in his statement. Many non-paedobaptists (infant baptizers) and memorialist baptizers (Baptists) try to point out that "Repent" precedes "be baptized" in Acts 2:38. And that is true. But I've already argued that these things are part of one whole and go together, not a logical order. Or else St. Matthew (and Jesus, who said it) is quite possibly in error in the Great Commission by putting baptism first.

The final passage is from St. Peter's first epistle. This, I think, gives quite a bit of clarity to his words at Pentecost in Acts 2. Baptism, which correponds to this (God saving Noah and his family through water in the ark), now saves you. That's pretty clear. Baptism saves you. Not by water (although water is a means), but by the resurrection of Christ (Or, it raises us in faith, as St. Paul says in Colossians 2:12).

"I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins." ~Nicene Creed

This brings us to the Nicene Creed, which is an orthodox and ecumenical Christian creed. All Christians everywhere ought to hold to this creed. Not all Christians do. That does not necessarily mean they all are unsaved, but it does mean they are dangerously deviating from standard Christian teaching that has been held for 2000 years.

The Baptist view of baptism cannot account for this phrase very well. Granted, the phrase says nothing about paedobaptism (although earlier ecumenical councils take paedobaptism for granted. Carthage 253, for example). But it does say that baptism remits (forgives, same thing) sin. The Baptist view rejects this idea. They would have to reinterpret that Nicene phrase to make the "for" mean "because of." Such as: "I acknowledge one Baptism for (because I already have) the remission of sins." Yes, I believe a Baptist baptism is still valid. It is done in the Name of the Triune God and done with water.Water + Word = Baptism. I had a Baptist baptism.

The Reformed view of Baptism is oh so close. It's a bit confusing until one looks into it a bit. They acknowledge that baptism does something and is indeed a means of grace. They likewise baptize their children in the covenantal model of theology that they follow. However, they do not connect baptism to regeneration. In short, baptism is a means of grace, but it does not regenerate, for that is done by the secret inward call of the Holy Spirit apart from means.

The other big reason as to why the Reformed cannot accept baptismal regeneration is their theology that is rooted firmly in God's decrees and their doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. In other words, in order for the Perseverance of the Saints AND baptismal regeneration to be true, every baptized person ever in history must be elect and finally saved. We all know this not to be the case. Hence, they cannot accept baptismal regeneration and thus, like the Baptists in this regard, have a hard time with this phrase in the Nicene Creed.

The Lutheran (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox too) view of Baptism has no issue with this phrase. We accept baptismal regeneration first and foremost on Scriptural grounds. St. Paul, St. Peter, and the book of Acts all teach it. The authors of the Nicene Creed held to this as well.

Baptism is a very core foundational doctrine of the Christian faith. Discerning Scripture's teaching on it is quite important. And with any other doctrine,the "higher"view one has of it, the more important it becomes within that church body.

We hold, as Lutherans, that baptism is one of the chief articles of the faith. It is a sacrament. A work done by God for us. We receive it, and it is not our work.

Thanks be to God.


One Baptism - Part 1

One Lord, one faith, one baptism. ~Ephesians 4:5

I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. ~Nicene Creed

Baptism is a hot topic in Christian circles. It probably always will be. Different Christian churches view the sacrament differently, and many don't even call it a sacrament.

Let us then take a brief look at what different churches believe in this area. Essentially there are 5 different views on baptism within Christian circles. We'll cover three of them here; the Baptist, Reformed, and Lutheran views. For the sake of brevity, I'll not discuss the views of the Church of Christ (because it patently teaches salvation by works...baptism is an act of obedience that remits sins...do the math) and the Roman Catholic (which is in many ways similar to Lutheran, with some different definitions). Nor will this little blog in my little corner of the world be an exhaustive treatment of the topic. But we will hit on the nuts and bolts of the doctrines regarding baptism.

What is Baptism?

1. According to Baptist Theology

I will recognize from the outset that "Baptist Theology" is an enormous term with numerous belief systems within it. There are Southern Baptists, Independent Fundamental Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Primitive Baptists, and so on. Likewise, non-denominational "Bible" churches are also baptist in their theology. But one thing unites all of these. They all practice water baptism by full immersion for believers in Christ alone.

The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith states the following:
  1. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be to the person who is baptised - a sign of his fellowship with Christ in His death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into Christ; of remission of sins; and of that person's giving up of himself to God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.

  2. Those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects for this ordinance.
  3. The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, in which the person is to be baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Immersion - the dipping of the person in water - is necessary for the due administration of this ordinance.
Here is a statement of faith regarding baptism from a typical Baptist church:

We believe that Christian baptism is the immersion of the believer in water to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life, that it is a prerequisite to the privileges of a Church relation.

In short, Baptist Theology teaches the following regarding baptism:

a. It is an ordinance, not a sacrament. That is to say, it is not a means of grace.

b. It is a result of a person's giving of themselves to Christ. That is to say, it is an act of obedience done by man.

c. A person must be fully immersed in water in order for it to be a valid baptism.

To be even more clear, baptism does nothing for us in a salvific sense because it is "an outward sign of an inward reality" as I have heard it said before.

2. According to Reformed and/or Presbyterian Theology

The Reformed and Presbyterian stance on baptism is different than any other. I'll let the Westminster Confession explain:

1. Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world.

2. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto.

3. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.

4. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.

5. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

6. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time.

7. The sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.

The Belgic Confession also waxes eloquent on baptism, but I won't post the whole thing here, it's quite long.

In short, Reformed Theology teaches the following regarding baptism:

a. It is a sacrament, not an ordinance. In other words, they affirm it's graciousness.

b. It is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace.

c. It signifies and seals regeneration, remission of sins, and ingrafting into Christ.

d. Immersion is valid, but so is pouring or sprinkling. Any amount of water is valid.

e. Not only new believers, but also their children are to be administered baptism.

f. Baptism is not necesssary for salvation.

g. The grace given in baptism is not tied to the moment the baptism is done and indeed is given by God at a later date.

h. A person may only be baptised once.

3. According to Lutheran Theology

The best place to go for the Lutheran view of baptism is the Small Catechism.
What is Baptism?--Answer.

Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's Word.

Which is that word of God?--Answer.

Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

What does Baptism give or profit?--Answer.

It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are such words and promises of God? Answer.

Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
How can water do such great things?--Answer.
It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.
What does such baptizing with water signify?--Answer.
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?--Answer.
St. Paul says in Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

So, in Lutheran Theology, baptism is:
a. The washing of water with the Word. It is a sacrament.
b. Works forgiveness (remission) of sins, delivers from death and the devil,and gives eternal salvation.
c. The Word of God is the effective agent in baptism, not the water.

d. Baptism regenerates and saves.
Those are our three views. Next blog will compare the three to the Nicene Creed and the Scriptures.



The Law Kills...So Let's Insert An Easier One.

Bad Theology rears its ugly head again.

Have you ever heard a well-meaning brother or sister in Christ share a story that goes something like this?

I thought I was a Christian. I went to church every Sunday because that's what Christians do. And I thought I was a pretty good person. But I eventually realized that nothing I did could ever save me. I was not a good person and I was lost. I was not saved just by going to church.

Sound familiar so far? So far, it's not so bad. The person has realized that they cannot do anything to save themselves and the perfect demands of God's Holy Law has crushed them. They then continue with something like...

I was not saved just by going to church. I would stay out all night doing x, y, and z. Then I would get up and go to church in the morning. I realized my lost state and then really, truly, gave my life to Jesus. I made it a personal relationship. I could not do anything to earn my salvation, but I made sure I was really, truly, saved. I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

And here is where the train goes off the rails. The first part sounds so good! The Law did it's job! It crushed the person and drove them to Christ. Score one for the Law.

But then...but then...but then. It's supposed to read: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved" (Eph 2:4-5)

But it doesn't. It reads: I gave my life to Christ and made Him my personal Lord and Savior. I gave up those things I used to stay up all night doing; x, y, and z. All of them. I'm not perfect, but I love Jesus. This of course is accompanied by heavy emotion, choked back tears, and such.

So here is the rub. The person ultimately is rooting their salvation in doing something. Whether that be "making Christ Lord and Savior" or "surrendering" or "accepting Christ," they're rooting their salvation in...voila, an easier version of the law. This is all purely subjective. How can this not lead to a lack of assurance of salvation? I gave up x, y, and z. Well, what if you do x, y, and z again? or even just one of them? Well, there goes your assurance and now you're back at square one.

The other thing is that this just is not at all what Scripture tells us about salvation. Scripture tells us that Christ saves us. Alone. By Himself. It's like, all 100% Him. There is no "I'm saved because I gave my life to Christ." That's not in Scripture. There is also no "I made Jesus my personal Lord and Savior." That's not in Scripture either. There is really no "I'm a Christian and know I am really, truly, personally saved because I gave up all these things." That kind of sounds like you're boasting in leaving behind things. Know what I mean?

The other thing that is bothersome about testimonies like this is that they downplay the role of the Church. Big time. They always pit "personal relationship" vs. "church." You hear phrases like "going to church doesn't make you a Christian," and things like that.

Well, the Church is precisely the place that delivers Christ to you: personally and objectively. Not by your willing it, not by you making Christ Lord, and not by your giving up things. Those are all subjective, and those are all works!

Instead, the Church gives you Christ the way Christ said He is to be given. Christ gave us officers in the Church to deliver His good gifts to us. We call this the office of the ministry. Your pastor preaches Christ crucified to you. He is present in His Word. Your pastor baptises you in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In that you are united to Christ. Your pastor administers the blessed Sacrament of Christ's body and blood, which is for the forgiveness of sins.

When, oh when, did we start replacing the Law with an easier law of "accepting Christ," "making Christ Lord and Savior," and giving things up? That's how we know we're really saved people will say.

I say nonsense. We know we are really saved because Christ strengthens our faith weekly by giving us Himself in Word and Sacrament. We ARE baptised. He has claimed us. We are His.

Get rid of Pietism. It's a dead end and it's terrible theology. And stop chucking the Church under the bus. The Church gives you God's good gifts. If God is your Father, the Church is your Mother.



You Can't Account for Nuthin' Yo

It's time that I, as a Confessional Lutheran, tip my cap to some Calvinists. After all, I used to be a pretty dogmatic one. In my opinion, one thing the Calvinists do better than us Lutherans is apologetics involving atheism. They're much more involved in that sphere, and I think they do an excellent job of it.

There are two basic types of Christian apologetics approaches. The first one is called evidentialism or empiricism. That is to say, people look at all the visible evidence and argue for the existence of God. Or, in more general terms, they argue for the existence of intelligent design, or a Creator. Some Calvinists argue in this manner. R.C. Sproul would be a good example. The formidable Christian apologist William Lane Craig would be another example, although Craig is clearly not a Calvinist.

The other - and in my opinion better - apologetic approach toward athsism is called presuppositional apologetics. Presuppositionalism cuts directly to the heart of the matter in places where evidentialism fails.

Evidentialism surely has its place in apologetics; especially where evidentialism argues for Christ and not just for some random "god." Arguing from the historicity of the resurrection would be one such example.

The reason presuppositionalism is proper when doing apologetics with atheists is that evidentialism fails. We can present all the evidence in the world and we're going to point out that it points to the existence of God, while the atheist is just going to interpret the evidence in a different manner.

The bottom line is that since we both will look at the same evidence and argue for different conclusions - we must look directly at the root of the worldviews. If the atheist is going to try to force a "burden of proof" on us, and ask for irrefutable empirical evidence, well, they can't offer any either. And in effect, this "burden of proof" demand is nothing more than a silly canard. We can give them all the proof they need but they'll deny it. Not only that, but they're actually making the same claim, just in a negation sort of way. To put it bluntly, we have every right to ask for "burden of proof" too. In short, these demands are nonsense. We both will look at the evidence and come up with what our underlying worldview says the evidence means. That's just human nature. Then they'll fall back on science. Well, Christians aren't against science, you know. The irony of it is that the atheist really has no basis whatever for using science or logic or reason or mathematics. Of course, they use such things and they are right to do so, because the laws of logic, mathematics, and science are absolute. As an example, 1+1=2 in all times for all people.

But therein lies the folly and internal disaster of atheism. They can't account for any of these things. Their worldview does not allow for it.
Are the laws of mathematics absolute and unchanging? Well, yeah, they are. What about logic? That's the same too. So when the atheist attempts to say that the laws of logic and mathematics are societal conventions, they've committed a major error in one of two directions. First, they could be admitting without realizing it, that the laws of mathematics and logic can change, because people change. And if we invented these as conventions in the first place, what happens when someone comes up with a new convention? That's silly of course, and the atheist would say as much. The other problem is that they could be asserting that human reason is absolute in its deductions. But herein lies a massive double-edged sword. Yeah, human reason changes and sees things differently about different things and such. That's true. But human reason did not create the laws of mathematics or logic. We discovered them perhaps, but they already existed and were already absolutely true.

So, what made those laws absolutely true? Why are they like that? The atheist has no answer. In fact, the atheist ultimately cannot account for anything. The Christian does and can.

Presup. It's what's for dinner.


Feel Good Tree Huggin Hibbity Dibbity

What is the purpose of Christianity? What is it about? Who is the central figure?

If you listen to your general run of the mill evangelical testimony now days, Christianity is something vastly different than what Scripture purports it to be.

Not so long ago, I had the privilege of hearing numerous testimonies at a church at which I am not a member. I like hearing testimonies. The majority of them were stories about how their lives have changed due to the ministry of the church. Marriages have been saved, people have been set on a course to financial freedom, and lives have been changed. Other testimonies focused on how good something made them feel, or how they just could feel the Spirit moving. All of that is good, of course. Lord knows He saved my marriage once upon a time, and He continues to uphold us by His hand of providence and grace.

But none of that is really Christianity.

The thing that saddened me is that not once did someone say anything about Christ crucified and the forgiveness of sins. What about the resurrection? Pfft. Not to be found. If an outsider were in attendance, they would without doubt come away from those testimonies thinking that Christianity is a self-help program to get your life on track. But can't they get self-help from the culture around them? Well, yeah, they can. You don't need Christ for that.

If this is the case; that Christianity is something to get your life on track, we're still all dead in our sins. And that's a huge problem of eternal proportions.

If this is the case; that Christianity is something to get your life on track, the best "Christians" out there are the best motivational speakers, psychologists, and shrinks.

If this is the case; that Christianity is something to get your life on track, Dr. Phil, Oprah, and other secular anti-Christian self-help gurus are the new Apostles. Perhaps we might throw Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen into the mix here too, but they're anti-Christian as well.

Nobody wants to hear that they are a wretched sinner. Nobody wants to hear that they can do nothing to save themselves. Nobody wants to hear that Christianity is not a self-help program, because at our core we are sinful selfish beings. Our first question usually is "what's in it for me?" And Christianity ends up with a whole ton of people within the walls of the church who have no clue what Christianity is. This is a horrific shame.

Your quality of life, materially and relationally speaking, might get better as a Christian. But it might get worse. But you're forgiven. God has saved you, is saving you, and will save you. He gives you Himself in the Word, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper.

But it's OK, most people surmise. Because, you know, we all believe in Jesus. But which Jesus? Who is He? What has He done? Why, oh why, is the Good News not proclaimed over and over? Why are we not partaking of the Lord's Supper more often?
Michael Horton

Reformed author Michael Horton puts it well:

“Jesus was not revolutionary because he said we should love God and each other. Moses said that first. So did Buddha, Confucius, and countless other religious leaders we've never heard of. Madonna, Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Dali Lama, and probably a lot of Christian leaders will tell us that the point of religion is to get us to love each other. "God loves you" doesn't stir the world's opposition. However, start talking about God's absolute authority, holiness, ... Christ's substitutionary atonement, justification apart from works, the necessity of new birth, repentance, baptism, Communion, and the future judgment, and the mood in the room changes considerably.” 

Houston, we have a problem. The Church is not doing her job. People believe these self-help messages and feel good testimonies because that is precisely what they have been taught in the church.

People are looking for God in themselves and the change in their lives. But that's not where God is, according to Scripture. He's on the cross, dying for you. He's in the grave. He's risen from the grave for you. He's in His Word, given to you. And He is in His Sacraments; those places where He promises in His Word that He will be.

Christianity is not a religion of how much God changed my life or of how much I am doing for God. It's a religion (And please, please, please don't tell me Christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship. That's a massive false dichotomy.) of Christ saving you. At Calvary, rising from the grave, in His Word, and in His Sacraments.

Because you...are a sinner. And you need forgiveness continually.

Why don't we hear that at most churches? Because they've exchanged the truth (even though they usually know this truth...it gets brushed under the rug) for some lies. That's why.


Water, Washing, Baptism, Spirit, Word

It might be kind of simple, and I might be a Simpleton (I've been called worse), but what I am going to propose here is pretty simple, clear, and really nothing new. In fact, the entire Christian church held to these things from the days of the Apostles up until the radical Anabaptists of the Reformation era. By the way, in case you didn't know, the Anabaptists were heretics who denied original sin, among other things.

So sit back and read as I propose some pretty simple things.

1. The word water, when used in Holy Scripture, actually means water. That is to say, it means H2O.

So, when Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about being born again by water and the Spirit, Jesus actually means "water and the Spirit."

St. John 3:5: Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Water and the Spirit go together here. It is a "both/and" deal, not two separate things. It's not talking about the amniotic fluid of birth. It's talking about water and the Spirit. Water means water.

You don't really need to go looking for alternative interpretations here. The amniotic fluid interpretation is silly, although those who would deny any sort of baptismal efficacy entertain it, because, you know, it simply can't mean the obvious here. The passage just is not allowed to be talking about baptism, despite the numerous other texts that say the same thing in various different forms.

So then a purely figurative and spiritual interpretation gets concocted. Advocates of this one like to point back to Ezekiel 36.

Ezekiel 36:25-27: I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

This interpretation is better than the amniotic fluid one, but it's still a bit of gymnastics, used solely to fit into particular theologies. But why can't water mean water here as well? I mean, yeah, for sure there is a spiritual component to John 3:5 as well as Ezekiel 36:25. No one disputes that. But then again, that's why the word "Spirit" is there, because the Holy Spirit is connected to the water.

So what is the problem now then? Water can't be water because this is spiritual? Does that mean God does not use material things to save the material world? If that is the case, that's Gnosticism. I mean, Christ is a man and all. He's material.


2. The word washing, when used in Holy Scripture, actually means washing. And washing is done with water.

Just as John 3:5 speaks of water and the Spirit, Titus 3:5 speaks of washing and the Spirit.

Titus 3:4-7: But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The phrase used is "washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." This passage sounds just like "unless one is born [regeneration] of water [washing] and the Spirit [Holy Spirit]."

I mean, am I missing something here?

3. Baptism, when spoken of in Scripture is a washing with water most often, because that's what the word actually means.

Yes, there are examples when Jesus uses the word baptism to refer to the cross. But that does not give us a good reason to eisogete the texts every place it's pretty obviously talking about baptism.

There is yet another parallel passage to John 3:5 and Titus 3:5 that says the same thing.

Acts 2:38: And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Here you go, same thing: Repent and be baptized [water]...for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And there are others that speak of baptism, which includes water, actually doing something. The short list includes Romans 6:3-4, Ephesians 5:26, Colossians 2:12, Galatians 3:27, 1 Peter 3:21, and so on.

The essential elements in a baptism are water and God's Word. This Word is given to us by Jesus in the Great Commission:

St. Matthew 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Now I simply ask you this: Does the Holy Spirit work through the Word? If you're any sort of orthodox Christian, the answer to that is yes, the Holy Spirit works through the Word.

What is baptism? Is it not a washing of water with the Word? Do we not baptize people in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? Is it not into the Name of the Triune God that we are baptized?

At this juncture, it's very clear. If you are denying the efficacy of baptism as a means of grace through which God works, you're just flat out denying Scripture. The same Spirit who inspired the Holy Scriptures is very clear. So clear, in fact, that we are given passage after passage about baptism doing things to us that save us. It hits us from multiple directions in order to be clear. It says "water and the Spirit." It then says "washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." Then, "be baptised...and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." And on and on and on we go.

Oh...it violates faith alone I hear you saying? Only if you have the wrong definition of baptism and erroneously turn it into a work. The way in which Holy Scripture describes baptism tells us that it cannot possibly be a work. I'm not going to go into this, because I wrote a blog on that topic a couple months ago, found here:

Faith Alone and Baptism go together

I propose simply this: Holy Scripture is very clear on this topic, and baptism is God's work done TO you, not your work given to God. Water means water, washing means washing, and baptism means baptism.

Where in Christianity is water used? Baptism, right? So, when Scripture repeatedly talks about water and washing, why do some theologies deny the obvious and plain meaning of Scripture.

It doesn't fit their presuppositions, that's why.


All Saints Day - November 1

November 1 we celebrate All Saints Day.

Old Testament:

Psalm 34:1-10

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! 4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Isaiah 26: 1-4, 8-9,  12-13, 19-21

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks. 2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

8 In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. 9 My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

12 O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works. 13 O Lord our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance.

19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. 20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. 21 For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.


Revelation 21:9-11, 22-27

9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

The Holy Gospel:

St. Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


O Almighty God, by whom we are graciously knit together as one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Jesus Christ, our Lord, grant us so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those unspeakable joys which you have prepared for those who unfeignedly love you; through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Reformation Day - October 31

October 31 is the day we celebrate the truth that thundered forth in the Reformation. October 31, 1517 was the day that Martin Luther hammered the 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church, challenging the corruption and abuses of the Roman Church.

Old Testament:

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”


Romans 3:19-28

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Revelation 14:6-7

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

The Holy Gospel

John 8:31-36

 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.


Almighty God, gracious Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your grace and truth, protect them and comfort them in all temptations, defend them against all enemies of your Word, and bestow on the Church your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen