DevotionalsRSS Feed
Daily Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions

Sola Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions All the Posts on the Apostles' Creed... More
Sola Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions All of the Posts on the Nicene Creed... 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
Sola Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions All of the Posts on the Athanasian Creed... 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
Sola Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions All of the Posts on the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds... 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
We should, however, find great comfort and hope that Jesus descended into hell. We celebrate the Ascension; we should observe the “Descension” too. 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
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
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
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
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
From the Confessions: “The communion of saints" Community is not a solo event. It takes many saints to make a communion... 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
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
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
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
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
In other words, the Son is eternal, as John testifies in his Gospel. The Son of God is not a created being, even one of a higher nature than man, but instead is himself the Creator. More
Jesus is God, as the Father and the Spirit are God, and they are together God. He is the very essence of what it is to be God. He is the pith of divinity. More
Jesus is not a reflection of this light. He is the light. He is the “true light.” (John 1:9) He is that “joyous light of glory” whom we confess as God. As he is by definition, “God of God,” he is by description, “Light of Light.” More
These days, we say, “true God of true God,” and rightly so, since “very” used to be used as truly or true. The Latin word from which we derive the English word “very” is verus which means “true.” We still think this way, even if we do not realize we do so. More
Here we see a straightforward denial of the Arian heresy: Jesus is “not made.” If there was any uncertainty about the definition of the word begotten, here is the clarification: “not made.” The Son of God is not a created being, like angels or humans. More
Note the words, “who for us men, and for our salvation.” The only God, existing as Father, Son, and Spirit, sent himself into this world he created (John 3:16) and he did so for our sake. He did not come to earth on vacation as a Greek god would... More
We cannot expect to say it in every instance in the creed but it can be said here. He was born for us. He became man for us. He was crucified for us. He suffered for us... More
Since God himself is eternal, his kingdom also remains forever. Within any kingdom, including God's heavenly kingdom, are its citizens, the king's subjects. The citizens of the kingdom of heaven are both angelic and human. More
We have considered the Holy Ghost, or Spirit, in the Apostles' Creed. A few more words about God's Spirit are added to the Nicene Creed. He is called Lord. More
The Spirit was not birthed, but proceeds from the Father and the Son in eternity, even as Jesus comes from the Father in eternity. Though one proceeds from another, they are undivided in their essence; they are inseparably one. More
The Holy Spirit, like the Son and the Father, is by nature the eternal God. He is uncreated, existing from all eternity. He is an entirely different person from the Father and the Son, but he is not a different God than them. Instead, he is altogether equal to them in an undivided, eternal substance. That is what the faith teaches from the Holy Scriptures. We are not coming up with some strange, n More
Luther teaches (Luther’s Works, vol 15, p 275) us that in his last words, David spoke of the Holy Trinity, that there were three Speakers talking by him or through him. More
We believe in the Church established by God, not a church established by Luther. Nor do we believe in the churches or denominations begun by any other parties. More
The “one baptism” into which we are baptized is Christ's baptism. His baptism is our own; it is why he was baptized: to fulfill all righteousness—even ours. More
The confession of resurrection is as important as that of the divinity of Christ or of creation or of any other item in our creed. Without resurrection, the rest of the creed falls apart. More
Everlasting life is a free gift from God. Jesus was sent by his Father so that we might not perish but by believing in what Jesus has done for us, live with him forever. More
The Athanasian Creed is so named because Athanasius of Alexandria had been considered its author. That is not the case, though it is uncertain who wrote the creed. More
The latest theological craze attracts the spiritually distracted like deer to headlights. The more glaring and wilder, the better. What difference does it make, since they will likely be chasing a new idea within the month? More
We do not worship the Father alone, for in worshiping him, we also glorify the Son and the Holy Spirit. We do not worship only Christ or Spirit, for the one is of the other—even though they are distinct from one another. More
How can it be that there are three Persons but only one God? We try to make sense of it through human and earthly analogies but, of course, all of them fall short of the glory who is God. More
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 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
He is not two beings, a god and a man somehow in a kind of symbiosis. Nor is he some kind of compound or complex organism, made by the joining of two beings, but no longer quite human or divine as a the result. More
The 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
At first blush, it might seem to some that a salvation of works is being advocated. That interpretation would contradict the rest of the creed. More
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
The Confession offered at the Diet of Augsburg was designed to show that the Lutheran churches were doctrinally sound, orthodox, of the Church catholic. Orthodoxy begins with a right understanding of God. More
The Lutherans of old wanted to make it clear at Augsburg that they were sinners. Indeed, they wished it understood that they believed all people since Adam (Rom 5:12) were in this condition from the very beginning of their lives. More
To be as certain as they could be that the Church in Rome understood that the Lutherans were orthodox, they continued to confess key doctrines at Augsburg. So far, there are none where they would disagree. More
It sounds as though a sixteenth century Lutheran wrote the words but they were penned by the Apostle Paul and inspired by the Holy Spirit in the first century. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Rom 3:28) There is no mingling of the two. More
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
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
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
As there is no way to receive God's grace without baptism, strictly speaking from Scripture, they condemned the idea that children—or anyone else—could receive grace without baptism. More
For now, in the tenth article, the Lutherans only and plainly confess that Christ's body and blood are truly present in his supper. His body and blood are also conveyed as true food and true drink to those who receive the sacrament. More
Confession can be good for the soul. Generally, this is the case when a particular, perhaps difficult sin needs to be confronted squarely so that one might be healed. More
We confess that God's grace is freely available to sinners both before and after baptism, and should be just as freely declared to all repentant persons. More
The gift of Christ's Body and Blood may only be received in faith. It is not mere religious observance. Instead, it is God working through his Supper to enliven and establish our faith through continued grace. More
God does not call all to these responsibilities, as some of the more radical wings of the Reformation taught. He calls “some”... More
The human heart must constantly be reminded that Christ is the end of the law (Rom 10:4). There are “profitable” things that we retain, such as fasting during Lent, but to make fasting during this season a law and obligation is contrary to the gospel. More
Scripture urges us to pray for those who rule over us. (1Tim 2:1-3) God has instituted good government. It is his servant for our good. The laws of the land, in so much as they agree with the Word of God, are to be obeyed. More
The theme of the Reformers in Wittenberg was faith. The standard of salvation and eternal life for Lutherans is always faith in God, not the lack of it nor of a reward for good works. On the Day of the Lord, Christ will return to judge... More
Instead, Lutherans confess that they are entirely dependent upon God's grace from start to finish... We may be a good citizen of earth, but will never be fit for the kingdom of God until we become people of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. More
Yet, because of our human nature, we easily turn away from God, intent on having things our way. It is our wills that resolve to not do good; and this we call sin. More
The Lutheran emphasis on justification by faith alone was attacked by those who insisted on being cleared of their sins by religious acts alone. Those who insisted that God's favor was earned instead of freely given... More
Faith trusts in Christ alone for salvation. This must be preached in all the churches since it is the teaching of Scripture and because this doctrine consoles Christians. (Rom 5:1) More
The doctrine of justification by faith is not a Lutheran innovation. We are not alone in our understanding of the Scripture. Even in the earliest days of the Church, it was taught... More
When one tries to reconcile God through good works, the conscience still trembles. One must put aside trust in self, and trust in Christ alone for righteousness before God. Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us to turn to ourselves and find peace. More
Our works are always questionable. Does one do enough, for the right reason, and so forth? Therefore, the conscience cannot be consoled as it will debate with itself as to whether one has become good enough for God. However one may try, she will never be good enough. More
Lutherans teach that God loves all people. Indeed, he loves us so much that he sent his own Son to bring eternal life to everyone who believes in the Son. (John 3:16) His limitless love brings peace and comfort... More
Faith is completed or fulfilled in our good works. One may say that she believes in God but if she left her brother hungry or threadbare would anyone suspect she was a member of the family of God? This is not a living faith. More
The doctrine of justification by faith does not rule out doing good works. Rather, it shows us how we are able to do good works. Left to our own devices, we would not do those principal Christian works. More
Lutherans encourage an old tradition: imitate those who imitate Christ. (1Cor 4:16; 11:1) We hold up the lives of the saints as models of faith to be followed. But we do not venerate the saints or pray to them. More
Since it has been shown that the Church Fathers also agreed with their teachings, it must be noted that the Wittenbergers were also in accord with the whole Church. More
But corruptions had begun to creep into the Church. Reform was badly needed so that people's hearts could again be comforted by the mercy of God in Christ. More
When we begin to change the plain meaning of God's Word or remove words that offend us, we offend God and are condemned by the very words we omit. More
Then, he too took a wife, a former nun by the name of Katherine. She became everything God intended in marriage. She was in all ways Luther's helpmate and better half. More
Lutherans celebrate Holy Communion often—many of our churches communing each Lord's Day. We do so with order and reverence, beginning with the acknowledgment that we all sin... More
The Mass, or Holy Communion, was being bought and sold in the days of the Reformation. It was thought that one could purchase a Mass to be said for himself as a way of earning some merit with God. More
It is bad enough when people who know better turn a blind eye to the truth. It is worse when they do so for financial reward. This was a leading problem facing the Church, not only at the time of the Reformation but for hundreds of years prior to the reform efforts of the Lutherans. More
It was believed that the Mass was an additional sacrifice that atoned for people's sins—indeed, not just the sins of the living but the dead as well. Because the Church had come to accept that Christ's death only atoned for Original Sin... More
When you approach the altar, you ought to ask, “What am I doing here?” The answer, of course, is that your Lord has called you to his table. You might think that you are unworthy to eat from his hand. Nevertheless, he has called you—commanded you. Take. Eat. More
Holy Communion is a benefit for those gathered. It is not to be served to those who are not present or to unbelievers or the dead. When the Church gathers for worship, Communion is celebrated with proper order. Communion is not a potluck that feeds the belly. More
Both the Small and Large Catechisms of Luther provide instruction about how to make confession. We teach that people must confess their sins before receiving Holy Communion. And they must be forgiven. More
No one can remember or even be aware of all of his sins, so that sort of confession that demands a litany of every last sin is hopeless. Trying to do so will produce a miserable person, overburdened under the weight of both his sins and the Church's demands. More
The Lutherans insisted that they were under no such obligation to satisfy God since we are not forgiven by our works but instead for Christ's sake alone. Justification with God is through faith in Christ's work, never by religious deeds. More
The kingdom of God is not in the doing of things but in believing what has been done. There is nothing wrong, of course, with following God's law and keeping his commandments. Christians keep God's commands but they do not believe that religious acts elicit God's mercy. God loves us with a perfect love. More
“They can't see the forest for the trees” is a saying that could easily be applied to the Church. What difference does it really make whether the Bible is carried into the sanctuary in just the right manner, so long as the Word of God is read? More
The Lord insists that we teach his Word with patience and clarity. We must take a firm stand on matters of doctrine, for people's souls hang in the balance. Such was the case for the Lutherans in Wittenberg. More
God's grace cannot be earned or increased by keeping Church customs. So, Lutherans confess that we are saved by the grace of Christ alone, as the Scriptures teach. More
The difference was, as it always was for the Lutherans, that they did not regard discipline of the flesh and other Church traditions as necessary for salvation. More
Lutheran worship is well-known for being traditional, often in form but always in terms of those things that contribute to good order. More
The idea that one could earn favor with God permeated the Church. Monastic vows was one more example of this doctrine of works. More
The Apostle Paul admits that he is not perfect, but struggling against his flesh. (Rom 7:15) He presses on toward the goal of completeness, in spite of his imperfect state. More
The Lutherans at Wittenberg allowed those under vows to marry. Some had been placed under monastic orders by their families, and others by their own ignorance More
The practice of religion can be insincere and downright hypocritical. Even our devotion can be disingenuous when it is focused on self instead of God. So we should watch our step and guard our words. More
When the Apostle Paul was a grown man, able to make decisions as to whether or not to be married, he seems to have chosen to remain unmarried so that his time could be devoted to the kingdom of God. More
The Lutherans believed that marriages could not be annulled by monastic vows. Indeed, the opposite is the case: marriage vows annul monastic obligations. More
To say that one may do something—anything—that could earn God's grace is an insult to the gospel of our Lord. The Lutherans pointed out this fallacy in the monasticism practiced at the time of the Reformation. More
Christ is the sole player in our perfection. He has made satisfaction and atonement for our sins. We can add nothing to his perfect work on the cross. More
What is there to do when the advice one gets at Church is in conflict with the gospel? First of all, we should not be surprised. More
God's will is that we would perform our normal duties of life faithfully and sincerely. In other words, we must not run from life, hoping that a deal we make with God will somehow make us perfect. More
Put in plain terms, the Church has power in spiritual matters. The State is left to deal with all else. Both Church and State overreach when they enter into the affairs of the other. More
The power of the keys is as clear as the plain commissioning of the gospel. Preach! Inherent to the proclamation of the gospel is the administration of God's grace through his sacraments. More
Powers are kept at bay and the kingdom of Christ is advanced every time we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” More
The jurisdictions of Church and State must be kept separate. If a bishop has secular power, it was conferred by the government, not by divine agency. More
No bishop or pastor should create any tradition that promises people God's grace. Nor should the people be threatened with God's disfavor when people do not obey these human inventions. More
The issue for the Lutherans was not whether one should, for example, fast during Lent or observe a service of worship beyond the Lord's Day. More
The Church has no need of more rules and traditions. The law which is in place through the Scripture is more than sufficient to make people aware of their sinful condition. The grace... More
There are some who sin by having faith in the things that they do. There are others who are not content with this but must have a following, leading others astray from a knowledge of the truth. This should not be a strange revelation... More
It is perfectly fitting for a congregation to develop rules for how things are done in the church. And it is perfectly wrong to say that one earns God's grace by keeping those rules. More
The Large Catechism regards the Sabbath as “an entirely external matter, like the other regulations of the Old Testament associated with particular customs, persons, times, and places.” More
It is no wonder that people think one has to do something to make God happy. This is the way with religion. We imagine that God must be appeased and that religious people must do the pacifying. More
Legalism demands that we keep as law even those things that were never intended to be law. Ancient customary matters of hair, dress, jewelry, food, drink, and other minutia become the focus for some people. “Do this! Don't do that!” preoccupies their attentions and energies More
The Lutherans would not back down when it came to the unmistakable teaching of the gospel. The keeping of rules would never do—not when it was said that by doing so, God's grace could be earned. More
There can be endless debate on religious and political topics. 500 years, the Lutherans were embroiled in both. It was the Emperor who ordered the Lutherans to set forth their differences with the Church in Rome. More
The Church in Rome replied to the Lutheran's Augsburg Confession with what is called the Confutation. However, the Lutherans were not permitted to have a copy or to know what was contained therein, except that they agree to three things. More
The Church in Rome believed the same thing about God's nature that Lutherans believed. Yet, as we shall soon see, there was much in the Lutheran Confession at Augsburg that they found disagreeable. More
Lutherans teach that original sin is actual sin, not merely the inclination to sin. The result is that we are naturally without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with all the lusts of this life. More
It is quite evident that such subtleties have originated in the schools, not in the council of the Emperor. But although this sophistry can be very easily refuted; yet, in order that all decent folk may understand that we teach nothing absurd on this matter, we ask that the German Confession be examined first. More
We discover that we are sinners from a very early age. Every one of us is known to walk in sin, and so, Scripture teaches that we are dead in our trespasses. This corruption of human nature skips no one. More
One of the slogans of the Reformation was (and continues to be) “sola Scriptura.” Those Latin words mean “Scripture alone.” The idea behind that motto is that the Bible, the written word of God, may be relied upon as a sufficient guide and last word on truth More
The Lutherans used the same terminology as the scholastics, at least when speaking of original sin, but they meant something else than the scholastics seemed to be saying. Scholasticism was a school of critical thinking in medieval universities that valued artful argument above all things. More
By means of reason, one may understand that without the doctrine of original sin, God must be considered rather foolish. Why would he send his Son to redeem people who were capable of redeeming themselves? More
Melancthon probably did not expect push-back on the doctrine of original sin, and so, he provided an article of a few sentences in the Augsburg Confession. As the Lutherans' opponents wished to quibble, Melancthon furnished them a far lengthier defense to chew on. More
Not only did these two Church Fathers consider the image of God to be his nature, even Lombard, who was one of the scholastics whom the Lutherans cared little for (and this is putting it mildly), clearly stated the same. More
The original sinful nature that we are all born with must be drowned in baptism. Thereafter, since the flesh is so comfortable in its old clothing, there must follow a daily and even a continual putting off of that old self. More
Original sin is an inability to seek God and his righteousness. What we are left with is the inordinate ability to seek after the things of the flesh. More
We too often consider sin something we do. It is more than what we do; sin is the reason we do the things we know to be sinful. We sin because we are full of sin. More
This lengthy response to the confutation (and there is a good deal to go yet) is all to show that the Lutherans taught the same thing about original sin as the Scripture and the Church. Yet they wanted to be specific about what the lack of original righteousness means... More
God gives us the sacrament of baptism to cleanse us from our sin nature. He cleanses us with his word of promise in the water but he does even more cleansing. More
It was not only those who penned the confutation who did not consider concupiscence, lust or the inclination and desire to sin, an actual sin in and of itself. Other Reformers thought the same thing. More
As we have seen, part of the confutation or refutation of the Augsburg Confession was a disagreement with the Lutherans about what has been called, up until now, concupiscence. Today, Melancthon names it with the Greek word, "fomes." More
Sin is a far more serious problem than most people realize or want to admit. In our day (at least in much of European and American societies), many people seem to think that if they ignore sin or call it something other than evil that it will go away. More
Melancthon cut to the heart of the issue in this closing paragraph of his article defending the doctrine of original sin. The issue was truth. The Lutherans were convinced that they correctly believed. More
Even a doubter like Thomas understood that Jesus is both God and man. Jesus Christ is God incarnate, or in the flesh. Thomas said that he would not believe Jesus was raised from the dead unless he saw him in the flesh. More
This is the foremost of the chief articles for the Lutherans. Justification touches every other article and doctrine in the Augsburg Confession and its Defense. More
The defense of the doctrine of justification begins with a definition of terms. The revelation of God is understood easily by seeing it in its simplest functions. More
Some things come to us naturally. For example, we can look at the beauty and complexity of nature and understand that there must be a creator. More
The whole problem of the scholastics, as it is with the world's philosophers, is that they believed that people are capable of being good. More
If Christianity is simply another philosophy, then Christ and the cross offer no distinctive benefit to sinners. More
The Reformers were answering challenges from a church that really believed it was their own works that earned them eternal life. Take that in for a moment. More
Why would one wonder whether they had fully earned or received God's grace? If it must be earned, is it grace? Wondering about such things is an indication that one does not understand the ways of God at all. More
The foolish person builds a house on sand. This should make me wonder about that beach house I have always wanted. Trying to live by the law is like owning a beach house. More
The law is a good thing. It teaches us how to interact with God and with each other. The law also provides necessary restraint on the uncivil elements of society so that good order may be maintained. More
There is an earthly righteousness that comes from human work and ability. Keeping the commandments, being a good citizen, exercising control over what is said, and minding one's own affairs with diligence and humility are examples of this kind of righteousness. More
Just as people are not forgiven of their sins because of civil deeds and religious works, these works also will never make them righteous before the holy God. Their works and their external piety, no matter how fine, will never make them holy on the inside More
The first use of the law is social in nature, for it creates boundaries and consequences for those who do wrong. This is as far as reason or earthly righteousness goes. By itself, it can never create true love for God. More
An external religion does not earn the grace of God. Therefore, anyone merely keeping appearances, even if they strive to keep the commandments, is still in sin. More
Lutherans insist that Christians should do good works. However, they also confess that these works do not earn God's grace and save them from sin and death. More
The words of Jesus are enough. If it is Jesus who makes us free, how dare we try to make ourselves free through works of the law? So some say, “Yes, he sets you free but you must add works to remain free.” More
God is concerned, though not primarily so, with the things that we do. The external matters such as are found in the second table of the law are there—in second place—for a reason. More
The law is always accusing us of wrongdoing. That is the law's job. Furthermore, we know the law is right. In ourselves, we have no leg to stand on. The law has us dead to rights. More
Circumcision was a seal or sign of Abraham's faith in God's promise. It was not a requirement for earning God's grace. Rather, it was a sign that Abraham believed what God promised. More
How misleading—and even rude—it would be to invite people to a party and then demand that they serve the guests in order to stay. More
Ironically, so-called personal faith does not rely upon personal works but upon the person of Christ. It is solely because of him that God is reconciled and made favorable toward us. More
Knowing stories about Jesus is not faith. Faith is a matter of the heart over the head. Faith trusts that God loves me even when I think that he cannot. More
We should certainly offer our whole selves to God (Rom 12:1). Yet, to imagine that this appeases God's wrath or earns justification and salvation is self-deception. More
If a promise is made, faith—not work—is required. This is true in human relations and it is no less true in the relationship between the human and the divine. More
Justifying faith, properly understood, includes these three things. First, that a promise has been made. God has promised to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness in order to reconcile the world to himself through Christ. More
Even the saints of old understood the kind of worship that expected blessings from God. It may not have seemed like they understood anything but a quid pro quo religion. More
Daily sacrifices were performed at the temple in Jerusalem because God commanded. Sacrifice was done as an outward expression of grateful dependence upon God. More
Saving faith does not happen because one performs the right deeds or recites the correct formula or prayer. Nor does it come about all at once. More
Faith is not ineffectual—or as some insinuate, “pie in the sky.” Faith is a light, life, and force in a person as to renew the heart, mind, and spirit. (1Thess 5:23) Faith makes new people of those who believe in Christ More
Even our currency proclaims Christ alone. “In God we trust.” What is unwritten is that we do not trust in money or what it buys—or who does the buying. Yet when it comes to religion, we want to trust in the things we do, as though they can buy salvation. More
What else do I need to do? Nothing. Christ has done it all. He he has taken unrighteous sinners and assigned his own righteousness to their account. More
It is easy to admit that everyone is a sinner, since we see the evidence in the news, in the lives of those we love, and certainly in our own lives. Scripture also plainly states... More
Imagine a man condemned to spend the rest of his life in prison. One day, the word comes from the jailer that the president has pardoned his offense. It is too good to be true. More
Søren Kierkegaard wrote in Sickness Unto Death that we acquire a new appreciation of ourselves when the self is viewed “directly in the sight of God.” When we see ourselves as God sees us, everything changes. More
Some people rely on religion as a way to gain peace or go to heaven—or rather, not go to hell. This puts the cart before the horse. Instead, they should be interested in being with God. More
Only the high priest could represent the people before God in the temple. But Jesus, the “great high priest,” represents us before the Father in heaven. We cannot represent ourselves. More
Melancthon may as well have said that he could quote Paul, Augustine, and the Fathers all day long, but see here! Peter too, and the prophets also, lend support for justification by faith. More
Even if you had to do some things in order for the promise of forgiveness to apply to you, how would you know when you had done enough good? At any rate, merit has been taken away from us... More
Our lives come from God. Every good and perfect gift comes to us through the Father. (James 1:17) Well, except salvation and righteousness; we must work for those. No! Heaven forbid! More
The key phraseology of Paul is “through faith” or “by faith.” He mentions it 31 times. Not only Paul though, since James and Peter each use the phrase once, and the writer of Hebrews uses it 24 times. More
Having been a devout Jew, a Hebrew among Hebrews and as to the law, a Pharisee (Phil 3:5), the Apostle Paul would never have let a phrase like “faith justifies” slip out unwittingly. More
If God expected us to save ourselves, we would be condemned before we begin. Even if we were capable of doing enough good moral, civil, and religious works to cancel out our sins, we would still be sinners. More
Verse 39 of today’s Scripture reads in the English as either justified” or “freed.” The older the translation, the more chance there is that it will read “justified.” It is a legal term... More
The Rymans are a pretty decent bunch of folks. You should have met my grandfather. He was a great man in my book. But salvation is not available to me in the name of Fred Ryman, nor in the name of Ryman—the whole of my lineage. More
William Temple said, “If we are traveling heavenward, we are already in heaven.” Our lives have already been transformed in a heavenly way. More than that, we are so assured of eternity... More
Jesus was pierced for our “transgressions.” He bore the discipline that was our due, eternal death. Though we strayed, he went willingly to slaughter, knowing that his death would mean our life... More
The bill is overdue. Ignoring it does not help a bit. It looms over you and you know that your service is about to be cut off. In the same way, our sin has put us in debt. More
We often think of Paul’s mysterious “thorn” as a physical affliction. However, if we consider it a spiritual thorn, we may find some profit. More
The idea that faith only comes into existence when it is formed by love is contrary to Scripture. Faith comes first, as a free gift of God. Only then do virtues like love begin to develop. More
Justification is no idle dream among Christians. The Church stands upon the promise of God in Christ Jesus. Otherwise, we have built the Church on sand. But the Church has built its house on the Rock. More
Yes! We ought to keep the commandments. Our hearts urge us to do so, as do the Scriptures. The law is written upon our hearts and should be lived out. As Christians, we ought to be doing a much better job of keeping the law... More
“Let me know how that works out for you,” some friends of mine remark whenever people say they are going to do something considered unlikely or even impossible. It is a sarcastic reply... More
“The greatest of these is love.” (1Cor 13:13) Therefore, we must keep the whole law, the first commandments as well as the latter. We must not only honor our parents... 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
People cannot keep the law of God as long as they have bad hearts—while they operate in their original, sinful nature. They may undertake to practice the law but these will only be lifeless, cold actions. More
The law is kept in this way: first, God loves us. Then, while we are still ignorant of his love, our disobedience to God begins to unsettle and even frighten the conscience. More
The very inclination to imagine that we can satisfy God’s holy demands is proof of our depravity. We cannot transcend ourselves by our own efforts. More
The conscience is a restless thing. It is always busy trying to soothe itself. This never works since there is only one thing that brings peace. More
Faith in Christ freely obtains forgiveness of sins and delivers a person from sin and death. The result is love and worship. Faith in one’s religious works and moral excellence, however, is a deadly trap. More
What good is it to go to church on Sundays, bring an offering, be an usher, and serve on a committee, if the doing of these things is the whole of one’s religion? All of these things and more can be done without any faith in God. More
Take note of this sentence: “For the law does not justify as long as it can accuse us.” The purpose of the law is to teach people to live as God wills and, when they deviate, to accuse them of breaking the law. More
Love and other obedience to the law would indeed be considered as righteousness—if we kept the law. Because people did not keep the law, the promise of grace was given. More
We are not only unable to keep the law, but if we trust our works as righteousness, we will find that we have been idolatrous. More
Original sin is a powerful thing; it holds humanity in its clutches with a grip so tight that no one can escape its deadly consequences. More
When people hear the gospel and believe, God cleanses their hearts and gives them the Holy Spirit. If we add works and the keeping of the law to the simple requirement of faith in Christ, we test God by seeking to undo what he has accomplished through Christ Jesus. More
Imagine the poor apostle, wanting to be godly but failing at the task. The things he set out to do, he was not able to perform. Conversely, the very things he wished to avoid were what he kept on doing. More
From the moment we are born again, the battle begins. We are always at war within ourselves. The flesh resists the Spirit who has moved into our lives. More
We profess that the law ought to be kept. We also declare that it is kept because Christ has fulfilled it—we did not, nor can we. So we seek to please God by keeping his perfect law even though we keep it imperfectly. More
It will always be impossible in this life to do anything in an altogether pure manner. However unfulfilled our efforts seem to us, they are accepted by and pleasing to God if they are done with faith in Christ. More
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
Peace is a profound need in our world that is torn apart by war and terrorism. There is also the lack of peace caused by bad economic conditions. Yet the lack of peace that is most dire is spiritual. More
Most of us have been a part of group projects in school. Three or four people are assigned to a team to complete an assignment. Many times, one person does all the work while the entire group gets the credit. More
There is nothing ambiguous about the distinction between the law and the gospel. The law requires one to keep its commandments, rules, and rituals. The gospel requires one to believe that Jesus has fulfilled the law. More
He has freely promised his merciful grace through Christ. The forgiveness of sins is certain because it depends upon the promise of God, not your deeds. More
You are not yet perfect. You are weak. The old nature still clings to you, thereby making your works, however well-intentioned, seem poorly executed and blemished. More
You may think that your little church does not contribute much to the kingdom. Never think that way. That is the same as saying that Christ does not contribute much to his own kingdom. More
That God rewards one’s labors is certain but what he rewards to “fellow workers,” and when, is unknown. What is very certain, however, is that all who believe in Christ... More
Garry Trudeau produced a popular series of cartoons in the 70s called I Have No Son. The father in the series seemed to disown his son for being an embarrassment, someone who did not think or act at all the same as himself. More
You were baptized before you ever thought to do a good deed. God put his seal on you first. So, baptism, like circumcision, is a sign that God gives Christ’s righteousness to sinners. More
So long as we think our relationship with God depends upon ourselves, it will also suffer. As long as we imagine that we make the difference with God, we will fail God... More
God wants us to be confident of eternal life. He does not dangle salvation over our heads, tempting us and teasing us to work a little harder, or else. Instead, we are to believe in the great name of Jesus Christ, who died and rose and ascended so that we might do the same. More
The working of the work does nothing to temper the Almighty. You could sacrifice a thousand burnt offerings and it would not pacify him. You could serve on every committee in your church and it would not justify you to God. More
In the 1950s, the farmers and ranchers of a small town in southern Texas quit working. For one year, they all laid off work and built a brand new Lutheran Church. What a sacrifice! More
But the Lutherans confessed that there was no grace to be derived from the work itself. Thus, the Lord’s Supper is not a work through which we receive forgiveness because we went through the motions. More
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
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” (Matt 5:6) Note that Jesus did not say blessed are those who have dug a well and quenched their own thirst. More
If you pay attention to the sports headlines, you will hear an odd assertion from time to time, especially during professional basketball season. A very talented player will either claim or a reporter will state that the athlete was a one-man team. More
Polls differ as to how many Americans say that they believe in God, some as high as 80% or more. Other polls demonstrate that the most basic evidences of faith are a much lower percentage. So let us be clear. More
The assurance of God’s love for us is always disturbed by our works. As soon as we trust in an act of charity or devotion to God, our confidence is shattered by an unkind thought or lack of devotion. More
The Roman Confutation claimed that people are justified by adding love and other works to faith in Christ. Conversely, the Lutherans confessed that love and good works are a necessary response to faith in the saving work of Christ. More
Faith is not formed by love or other good works. That is backwards thinking and contrary to Scripture. Rather, love is formed by faith. Faith in Christ compels us to love and to obey God. More
Yes! We should obey God by loving one another and doing acts of charity and other good works. Yet these actions will never conquer sin and death or provide access to God. More
God does not say, “Do this thing and you will be saved.” He could have said something like, “Do a cartwheel and you will be saved.” Of course, he said nothing so absurd... More
It makes sense that doing good deeds and being religious would cause God to love us and forgive us for our efforts. If God commands it, then there should be the reward of his favor. Yet, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.” More
Everyone gets a trophy. That is the way of things in children’s sports these days. Nobody is a loser, so long as they join the team. People are divided on their opinions about this approach More
Paul consistently teaches that we are accepted on account of Christ and not on account of our love, or our works, or because we keep the law. For no one perfectly fulfills the law. More
Having understood that Christ alone is the satisfaction for our sins, we see love in a new light. “We love because he first loved us," not because we expect special favor from God. More
During a committee meeting, a brother suddenly spoke strong words against his pastor. There was silence in the room. People did not know how to respond. More
God is able to do far more with the Church than we could possibly imagine (Eph 3:20). Knowing therefore, not only what God is capable of doing but is actually accomplishing in spite of us. More
We should not worry ourselves over the actions of others toward us. Instead, we should be devoted to the gospel. This means that we will love those who hate and hurt us. More
We must be careful not to build a doctrine of righteousness and salvation upon anything that we do. Such a house would surely fall, since it is founded on the limited and human instead of upon the infinite and divine. More
Think of how often the smallest spark of some perceived offense in a congregation is fanned into flame by someone who chooses to make the matter personal. More
Presidential pardons, bestowed by outgoing US presidents, are received with gratitude but also sometimes, with irritation by those who disagree with a president’s choices. More
James reinforces what kind of faith he has been referring to in this passage. Faith is not mere assent, such as you hear from people today when they say things like, “I believe in God,” or “I am a Christian,” or “I go to church.” More
Propitiation means appeasement of God. The argument the Lutherans were making is simply this: Christ alone is the satisfaction for our sins. What God has worked into us, we are now to work out... More
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
Every good gift comes from the Father—most notably, the gift of new birth in Christ. Salvation is a gift. Forgiveness of sins and justification are not things that can be earned. More
One cannot create faith by deciding to believe in the historical Jesus, but then, going on to live the same old, natural life. This is the sort of dead faith to which James refers. More
Again, James is referring to those works that should follow faith. So, it is well said that the one who has faith and good works is righteous. Righteousness is not earned through the works... More
Any keeping of the law requires God’s help. Before we can ever keep the law in a way that God finds acceptable, we must have faith in Christ. More
Those who have been justified through faith in Christ are expected to act righteously. They are not, however, forgiven of their sins because they act in accordance with God’s will. More
The law must be preached. Yet, it must also be taught that the keeping of the law does not bring new birth. Only God can regenerate the dead, which we most certainly were. More
God commands us through the prophets to do good. Yet, through those same prophets, he makes it clear that our righteousness does not come from the works worked. More
As the parable indicates, we are indebted to the King. Our sin-debt should cost us our lives (Rom 6:23) but God is merciful, forgiving us and making us into new persons. More
The law is used by God to achieve certain results. It exhorts us to look out for “number two,” or to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). More
Even the prophets of old required faith since they too conveyed the promises of God. Promises require faith because they involve trust in the one making the promise. More
Daniel does not simply demand certain kingly works such as alms giving. He demands faith by saying, “Break off your sins by righteousness.” More
So let us reject the entire squabble as not only a misunderstanding of the text, but a mistranslation as well. May we understand the gospel instead, for there is nothing uncertain in Christ. More
Consider this teaching from the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive, and you will be forgiven. The first part in this doctrine demands amendment of life and good works, while the second part adds the promise. More
You may work all day and night, trying to prove yourself worthy to God, only to discover at the break of day that you do not believe he finds you worthy. More
The preaching of the law must have its rightful place among us. The law sets necessary boundaries in society so that we might enjoy a measure of order and civility in society. More
The rich man wanted to know what good deed he as yet lacked so that he could earn eternal life. Having boasted that he had kept all the commandments, he nonetheless felt that he still lacked some fine deed. More
We should have no other gods before the Lord (Exod 20:3). He alone is God (Deut 6:4). We think that in the churches today, idols are a thing of the past. More
The promise of forgiveness is bound to repentance. They are inseparable. “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.” More
The great mystery of the ages has been revealed in Jesus Christ. All people—Jews and Gentiles alike—have been redeemed from their slavery to sin and death by the atoning work of Jesus. More
The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners from the condemnation of sin and death. When people have faith in God’s sacrifice for their sin, they are saved, justified, and reborn. More
Those who trust in Christ ought to sacrifice. We no longer sacrifice animals as was done under the Old Covenant. Instead, because Christ is the once-for-all sacrifice for sin. More
Our works are not good works—they do not please God—unless they are done in faith. They are not good works, no matter how fine they may seem to us... More
If we only read verse 8, we may end up believing good works are the point, that we must “be careful to devote [ourselves] to good works” (Titus 3:8). More
Common sense informs us that giving from the heart means one expects to gain nothing from the gift. When one gives from within... More
If you are not clean on the inside, your outside will never be clean, despite regular religious washings. These outward ceremonies do not cleanse the person who is unclean within. More
All things are clean to you if you are clean within and without, bathed on the inside and the outside, washed in faith and in action. More
We are to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt 3:8; Luke 3:8). Yet we do not pin our hope of salvation upon these works. More
How may one know that they are forgiven of their sins, reborn, and are now children of God? Can this be determined because one has always lived correctly? More
The Scriptures are very clear. We believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ by the grace of God. We are God’s children because he has chosen us, not because we have chosen him. More
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
God wants us to live lives that reflect his own holiness and are in keeping with the regeneration that comes to us through faith. More
The word “atonement” translated in Romans 5:11 in the Geneva and King James versions is abandoned in subsequent New Testament translations More
We inherit the kingdom through faith, just as an orphan receives a new family. When a child is adopted, she must follow her new family through the orphanage doors. More
It is good to be reminded and to have the point driven home again and again. For we are easily led astray, imagining that we must do something to reconcile God, since we imagine he must be angry about our sins. More
“Look toward heaven.” When we look to ourselves, we tend to get in trouble. Initially, Abram believed God’s promise of a son. More
Jesus warned keepers of the law that the wrath of God was coming (Matt 3:7). The Pharisees already did not like Jesus, and this did not make them any happier. More
I never understood why the rules of baseball allow a pinch runner. A coach is allowed to substitute a faster runner and remove the slower runner from the game. That does not seem fair. More
We are made children of God through his grace. We were not born to his house but have been reborn and adopted by his merciful will (Eph 1:5). Therefore we have hope. More
Sometimes, even the simplest things are spun into complexities, the clearest teaching of Christ turned to sophistry, the clarity of orthodoxy twisted to heresy. More
What a burden it is to fulfill the law on our own. Who can keep the law? Is there anyone who can satisfy the demands of the law? More
What a blessing it is to be assured of eternity. Jesus gave us this assurance when he said that whoever believes his word and in the one who sent him has eternal life. More
Christ came to the law keepers first, to show the truth of God’s promises. God fulfilled those promises in the Messiah by fulfilling the law for them, something which they could not accomplish. More
Surveys are often filled out by a person who marks the box, “Christian.” Often what this means is that the person thinks there is a God. More
We cannot reason our way to God or become justified before him because we have come to some intellectual understanding of divinity. More
Jesus took our sin upon himself and died with it on the cross. When our sin was transferred to Christ, his righteousness was assigned to us through faith in him. More
If you are looking for something that you must do, some righteous work that gains eternal life, there is only one thing necessary. Believe in Christ. More
Hope believes even when the situation appears hopeless. Abraham was confronted with an utterly hopeless situation. More
If you would be righteous, you must live by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). For if you imagine that you can be righteous by being virtuous and religious, then you are misguided by conceit. More
Faith is not a mere intellectual understanding of God. Many people believe there is a God but they neither know who he is nor put their trust in him. More
True faith in Christ is not shaken for long, since it remembers the source and object of its faith. Faith does not seek to appease an angry God. More
There is no good thing that we can do, or even a lifetime’s collection of good works, that God would dignify as a righteousness worthy of eternal life. More
Those who consider themselves Christian would confess that Christ saves. But the later actions of some betray a different belief than what they confess. More
The spirit is compelled to have faith in God but the flesh is weak. It is hard to stay awake and watchful against the accusations of the law. More
Some people have faith in their works. They believe that there are certain things they can do to earn God’s grace. This imagined acquisition of grace is called condignity. More
Everybody sins. Anyone who claims otherwise, is kidding himself but God is not fooled. We were born into sin; it invades all of life. More
We cannot make any offering for sin that produces mercy and forgiveness. Our virtue will not do it, nor will religious works, the right disposition, or remorse. More
Pour some dirt into a cup of water and find out how many people will drink? Just so, we are not palatable; each person is just some good mixed in with the bad. More
Our sin leaves us indebted to God. This is why Jesus tells us to pray, “Forgive us our sins.” Matthew uses the word “debt," making it clear that we owe God for our moral failure. More
The First Commandment teaches us that God is faithful to deliver his people. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." More
When we think that we have earned God’s mercy and may therefore, demand it, we rob God of the glory that belongs to him alone. More
Behold, what importance some people place in their works. They value deeds so thoroughly that they distort the words of Christ. When he downplays works, they exalt them. More
God forgives us for the sake of his name. His reputation is at stake, so he will keep his promise. This is easy to understand. More
There is faith and there is the fruit of faith. Faith ought to have results in this life, not just the result of an eternal life to come. More
If a man was swimming in the ocean and began to drown, he would be quite correct to not trust his own efforts to save himself. But he would yell with his last breath to the lifeguard. More
The old nature believes that if one loves enough, is joyous all the time, at peace, patient and kind toward others, is good, faithful, and self-controlled, that person will have earned God’s grace. More
We are indentured servants, slaves to sin and death, and we can never earn our freedom. Either the master sets us free—and death and the devil are not going to do that—or someone pays our debt and sets free. More
The difference that precedes salvation is easy to determine. That distinguishing feature is belief in the one who saves. More
What came first, the chicken or the egg? Some love to deliberate over such things; these questions wear out other people. 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
Good works are evidence that a person has been justified. For the Spirit who produces good works only indwells the justified. More
We should recognize in ourselves that we are disposed to fall back into old ways. But we should also consider that others are just like us. More
What will be the result in the future life for the way we have lived the present life. Left on our own, sin and death are terrifying. More
We are reborn with a purpose. But let us be clear; the purpose does not precede or cause rebirth. That purpose is the result of our being newly created. More
Faith is the means of justification, righteousness, and salvation. Only faith keeps our souls at peace before God. Our good deeds will never give us at rest. More
“Blessed are the poor,” Jesus says in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit." More
Eternal life is a reward from God that is based on something very important: his promise. It is not based upon how much work we have done. More
There is nothing worthy of forgiveness and the resurrection of the body to everlasting life, save the work of Christ. Imagining otherwise does great damage to Scripture and to troubled hearts and minds. More
The opponents’ conclusions were that if one pays for his own reward, he can pay more than is due. Therefore, the credit must be transferable to others. More
Some orders of monks placed their hoods upon dead bodies, indicating that their good works were transferred to the account of the deceased. More
The Lord has fought the fight. He has gone before us and has won the long battle. He is with us and will never leave us or forsake us. More
We belong to Christ because of faith. This belonging means that we are his servants. So, we are to do his will and bidding. It also means... More
The issue here—and always—is Christ. Let us not think so much about rewards, but instead, about the reward. We must press on toward the real goal. More
Do the things you are commanded and see if he will not pour out his blessings. But never expect him to justify you for the things you do. More
We must remain aware of a dangerous temptation as we try to keep the law. As we observe the law, we can be enticed to think too highly of ourselves. More
Works must always flow from a heart of faith. Abraham did not make an offering of his only son, Isaac, as a mere work. Nor did he expect that God would honor the work itself. More
Be careful that you do not expect God to favor you on the merits of your offerings or works or religious activity. God only has regard for such things when they are done with faith in him. More
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
Lasting peace with God comes through faith. Our deeds can make us feel good for a while but that feeling is not only false, it does not last. More
There is a difference between justification and sanctification. Justification is that obedience to the gospel that hears and believes, that trusts God’s promise. More
We cannot reason our way to righteousness. Who has been able to determine, “I shall be a good person?” and been successful in the enterprise? More
The living grace of God is Jesus Christ. There is no salvation available to us without this grace. There is no grace without Jesus Christ. More
Jesus satisfied God’s requirement of keeping the law perfectly. Moreover, he paid the penalty for the sins of those who cannot keep the commandments. More
If we go to church, feed the hungry, and buy coats and mittens for the poor, but have no faith in the God who calls us to do such things, do those good works save? More
Justification, righteousness, and salvation are not only received by faith, these things are preserved for us to the end of time. More
Lift up the shield of faith in Christ every time the devil attacks. Do not trust your thinking and your doing. Trust Christ, who is your shield. More
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
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they valued their own traditions more than God’s commandments. We must be careful to evaluate those things that we believe and do. More
The ability to love God is not something that we are born with or that we can develop on our own with this fallen nature of ours. In order to love God, one must first be born again. More
Let us continue to keep Christ at the center of all things. The promised Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin from the lineage of kings, suffered, was crucified and buried for our sins. More
It is human nature to imagine that we can buy our way out of problems. The person caught speeding, therefore, pays the court to keep the offense off the books so that insurance rates will not increase More
Surely, it is thought, there must be something we must do. This is the seed of religion and heresy, for faith knows that we can do nothing. More
The disciples were in hiding, very likely imagining that they were next, that the authorities would come for them too. They had crucified the Lord; what would they do to his followers? More
Declaring that a Christian’s deeds are required for justification and salvation both denies Christ and leaves the believer in despair More
Jesus did not come into the world to teach sinners how to save themselves. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” More
Nearly 40 years ago, a half dozen people from a local cult attended my church, trying to get people to follow their false god. More
Some people attend church because they were raised to do so. They give no thought to faith; it is simply the right thing to do. More
We deplore the condition of some church bodies, that they have abandoned the Word of God for culturally correct beliefs. Yet, we should not complain overly much. More
So we must be careful to confess that sinful people, such as ourselves, become righteous and holy only through the grace of God. More
We believe in the Church. This is the congregation of those who believe in Christ. They are spread throughout the ages—past, present, and future. More
When we perceive the threat to the Church—a threat that exists both from within and without—we can be led to despair of her continued existence. More
The “house of the righteous,” the Church, is infiltrated by the wicked. Sometimes, they seem petty, though they are aggravating and ungodly. More
The Body of Christ is not an organization that merely goes through the motions of ceremonies. The Church has gifts in the heart, namely, the Holy Spirit and faith. More
All those who by nature were born Jews, or Abraham’s seed, were given the law so that they might be an example to the nations of how God would have people live. More
As worshipers come forward for Holy Communion, many pause at the baptismal font, place their fingers in the water, and make the sign of the cross on their forehead. More
Jesus was clear on this matter when he was brought before Pilate. His kingdom is not of this world. It is not temporal but instead, spiritual. More
Many kinds of people are drawn to the Church, but not all are members of the Church. Some have an outward appearance of of belonging, yet that does not make them true members of the spiritual kingdom of Christ. More
You will find the Church wherever two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus (Matt 18:20), that is with faith in him, teaching the gospel, and administering the sacraments. More
We must not replace Christ with works, offices, masses, or anything else. These things do not save; Christ alone saves and justifies. 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
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
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
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
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
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
We are not big on excommunication these days. But we still do a pretty fair job of driving people out of our churches. More
The Church is that gathering of saints where the Gospel is correctly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. More
I have convictions... If I dare to make those things qualifications for your righteousness and salvation, please take me to task. 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
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
“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
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
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
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
The truth of the gospel is that righteousness and salvation come through faith in Christ. This is the word that sets us free. 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 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
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
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
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
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
The universal grace and promise of the gospel is just that: universal. It is not applied to everyone except some persons. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 precedes Holy Communion. We are to earnestly confess our sins and hear the words of absolution before receiving Christ. 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
The imposition of rules and regulations will change no heart. The Holy Spirit changes hearts. The crucified Christ draws people near. 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
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
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
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
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
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
Around the time of the Reformation, there was endless quibbling in the Church about how and when things happened. In 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
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
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
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
The first step in repentance is being contrite. God does not desire sacrifices from us, in order to appease him (Psa 51:16). More
“We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves” (Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness). 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
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
Although we should certainly “fear, love, and trust God” (Small Catechism), these things, including the fear of God (attrition), do not earn grace. 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
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
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 today, we ought to be teaching our people that God forgives sins for Christ’s sake, not because we perform certain rituals. 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
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
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 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
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
Repentance begins with a heart that is moved toward God’s mercy and then has faith that he forgives for Christ’s sake More
Simply stated, contrition is when a person, because of love or fear, stops defending sin and confesses it instead. 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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
Luther, in particular, was tortured by guilt, and would therefore wear out his confessor with hours of specific lists of sins. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Life is hard enough without those in authority leading people astray. Scripture teaches us to have faith in Christ for forgiveness and justification. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Do not make the mistake of thinking that you need to do something special to conjure up the feeling of religious success. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Works of repentance are required of us. They are not non-compulsory things that we can use to purchase our redemption or righteousness. 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
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
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
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
You may have all of the outward signs of a Christian but if you neglect the greatest commandment, you are headed for trouble. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
We love a lie, especially when it seems like it just might be true. That kind of untruth seems to be especially attractive. 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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 Church is that gathering of saints where the Gospel is correctly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. More
I have convictions... If I dare to make those things qualifications for your righteousness and salvation, please take me to task. 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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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
“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
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
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
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
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
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 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
Original image  •  Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference   Click for a recording of today's Sola Devotion. 1 Corinthians 4:1–6 From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ. He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity. He is completely one in the unity ... 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

Click Here For Devotional Archives