Wednesday, November 30, 2011

LLC Wednesdays #9: Part 1 of Luther's Large Catechism, the Seventh Commandment

Today is Luther's Large Catechism Wednesdays! Each Wednesday we will be going through a section of Luther's Large Catechism.


222 You shall not steal.

223 After the commandment about you personally and your spouse, next comes the commandment about temporal property. God also wants property protected. He has commanded that no one shall take away from, or diminish, his neighbor’s possessions. 224 For to steal is nothing else than to get possession of another’s property wrongfully. Briefly, this includes all kinds of advantage in all sorts of trade to the disadvantage of our neighbor. Now, this is indeed quite a widespread and common vice. But it is so little considered and noticed that it surpasses all measure. So if all thieves who did not want to be known as thieves were to be hanged on gallows, the world would soon be devastated. There would be a lack both of executioners and gallows. For, as we have just said, to “steal” means not only emptying our neighbor’s money box and pockets. It also means grasping property in the market, in all stores, booths, wine and beer cellars, workshops, and, in short, wherever there is trading or taking and giving of money for merchandise or labor.

225 Let me explain this somewhat plainly for the common people, that it may be seen how godly we are. For example, consider a manservant or maidservant who does not serve faithfully in the house, does damage, or allows damage to be done when it could be prevented. He ruins and neglects the goods entrusted to him, by laziness, idleness, or hate, to the spite and sorrow of master and mistress. In whatever way this can be done purposely (I’m not talking about what happens by mistake and against one’s will), you can in a year steal thirty or forty florins. If another servant had taken that much money secretly or carried it away, he would be hanged with the rope. But here you (while conscious of such a great theft) may even express defiance and become rude, and no one dare call you a thief.

226 I say the same also about mechanics, workmen, and day laborers. They all follow their evil thoughts and never know enough ways to overcharge people, while they are lazy and unfaithful in their work. All these are far worse than burglars, whom we can guard against with locks and bolts and, if caught, can be treated in such a way that they will not commit the crime again. But against unfaithful workers no one can guard. No one even dares to give them an angry look or accuse them of theft. One would rather lose ten times as much money from his purse. For here are my neighbors, good friends, my own servants, from whom I expect ‹every faithful and diligent service›, yet they cheat me most of all.

227 Furthermore, in the market and in common trade also, this practice is in full swing and force to the greatest extent. There one openly cheats another with bad merchandise; false measures, weights, and coins; and by nimbleness and strange finances [Proverbs 20:10]. Or he takes advantage of him with clever tricks. Likewise, one overcharges another in a trade and greedily drives a hard bargain, skins and distresses him. Who can repeat or think of all these acts? 228 To sum up, this is the most common trade and the largest union on earth. If we consider the world through all conditions of life, it is nothing but a vast, wide sales booth, full of great thieves.

229 Therefore, some are also called swivel-chair robbers, land and highway robbers, not picklocks and burglars. For they snatch away easy money, but they sit on a chair at home and are styled great noblemen and honorable, pious citizens. They rob and steal in a way assumed to be good.

230 Yes, here we might be silent about the petty individual thieves if we were to attack the great, powerful archthieves with whom lords and princes keep company. These thieves daily plunder not only a city or two, but all of Germany. Indeed, where should we place the head and supreme protector of all thieves—the Holy Chair at Rome with all its train of attendants—which has grabbed by theft the wealth of all the world, and holds it to this day?

231 This is, in short, the way of the world: whoever can steal and rob openly goes free and secure, unmolested by anyone, and even demands that he be honored. Meanwhile, the little burglars, who have once trespassed, must bear the shame and punishment to make the former thieves appear godly and honorable. But let such open thieves know that in God’s sight they are the greatest thieves. He will punish them as they are worthy and deserve.

232 Now, since this commandment is so far-reaching, as just indicated, it is necessary to teach it well and to explain it to the common people. Do not let them go on in their greed and security. But always place before their eyes God’s wrath, and instill the same. For we must preach this not to Christians, but chiefly to hoods and scoundrels. It would be more fitting for judges, jailers, or Master Hans (the executioner) to preach to them. 233 Therefore, let everyone know his duty, at the risk of God’s displeasure: he must do no harm to his neighbor nor deprive him of profit nor commit any act of unfaithfulness or hatred in any bargain or trade. But he must also faithfully preserve his property for him, secure and promote his advantage. This is especially true when one accepts money, wages, and one’s livelihood for such service.

234 Now the person who greedily despises this commandment may indeed pass by and escape the hangman. But he shall not escape God’s wrath and punishment [Galatians 6:7–8; 1 Thessalonians 5:3]. When he has long practiced his defiance and arrogance, he shall still remain a tramp and beggar. In addition, he will have all plagues and misfortune. 235 Now you are going your own way, though you ought to preserve the property of your master and mistress. For your service you fill your throat and stomach, take your wages like a thief, and have people treat you like a nobleman. For there are many that are even rude towards their masters and mistresses and are unwilling to do them a favor or service by which to protect them from loss.

236 But consider what you will gain. When you have come into your own property and are set up in your home (to which God will help with all misfortunes), your earlier misdeeds will bob up again and come home to you. You will find that where you have cheated or done injury at the value of one mite, you will have to pay thirty again.

237 This will also be the result for craftsmen and day laborers. We are now obliged to hear and suffer such intolerable hatred from them, as though they were noblemen in another’s possessions and everyone is obliged to give them what they demand. 238 Just let them continue making their demands as long as they can. God will not forget His commandment. He will reward them just as they have served. He will hang them, not upon a green gallows, but upon a dry one. So all their life they shall neither prosper nor gather anything. 239 Indeed, if there were a well-ordered government in the land, such greediness might soon be checked and prevented. That was the custom in ancient times among the Romans. There such characters were promptly seized by the head in a way that caused others to take warning.

240 No more shall all the rest prosper who change the open, free market into a flesh pit of extortion and a den of robbery [Luke 19:46], where the poor are daily overcharged, and where new burdens and high prices are imposed. Everyone there uses the market according to his whim. He is even defiant and brags as though it were his fair privilege and right to sell his goods for as high a price as he pleases, and no one had a right to say a word against it. 241 We will indeed look on and let these people skin, pinch, and hoard. 242 But we will trust in God, who will do the following: after you have been skinning and scraping for a long time, He will pronounce such a blessing on your gains that your grain in the silo, your beer in the cellar, and your cattle in the stalls shall perish [Luke 12:16–21]. Yes, where you have cheated and overcharged anyone for even a florin, your entire pile of wealth shall be consumed with rust, so that you shall never enjoy it [Matthew 6:19; James 5:1–3].

243 Indeed, we see and experience this being fulfilled daily before our eyes. No stolen or dishonestly acquired possession thrives. How many there are who rake and scrape day and night, and yet grow not a farthing richer! Though they gather much, they must suffer so many plagues and misfortunes that they cannot enjoy it with cheerfulness nor leave it to their children. 244 But since no one cares, and we go on as though it did not concern us, God must visit us in a different way and teach us manners by imposing one taxation after another. Or He must billet a troop of soldiers upon us. In one hour they empty our moneyboxes and purses and do not quit as long as we have a farthing left. In addition, by way of thanks, they burn and devastate house and home, and they outrage and kill wife and children.

245 In short, if you steal much, you can expect that much will be stolen from you. He who robs and gets by violence and wrong will submit to one who shall act the same way toward him. For God is master of this art. Since everyone robs and steals from one another, God punishes one thief by means of another. Or else where would we find enough gallows and ropes?

246 Now, whoever is willing to be instructed, let him know that this is God’s commandment. It must not be treated as a joke. For although you despise, defraud, steal, and rob us, we will indeed manage to endure your arrogance, suffer, and—according to the Lord’s Prayer—forgive and show pity [Matthew 6:12]. For we know that the godly shall nevertheless have enough [Psalm 37:25]. But you injure yourself more than another.

247 Beware of this: The poor man will come to you (there are so many now). He must buy things with the penny of his daily wages and live upon it. When you are harsh to him, as though everyone lived by your favor, and you skin and scrape him to the bone, and when you turn him away with pride and arrogance to whom you ought to give things without payment, he will go away wretched and sorrowful. Since he can complain to no one else, he will cry and call to heaven [Psalm 20:6; 146:8–9]. Then beware (I say again) as of the devil himself. For such groaning and calling will be no joke. It will have a weight that will prove too heavy for you and all the world. For it will reach Him who takes care of the poor, sorrowful hearts. He will not allow them to go unavenged [Isaiah 61:1–3]. But if you despise this and become defiant, see the One you have brought upon you. If you succeed and prosper, before all the world you may call God and me a liar.

248 We have exhorted, warned, and protested enough. He who will not listen to or believe this commandment may go on until he learns this by experience. Yet it must be impressed upon the young [Deuteronomy 6:7] so that they may be careful not to follow the old lawless crowd, but keep their eyes fixed upon God’s commandment, lest His wrath and punishment come upon them too. 249 It is necessary for us to do no more than to teach and to warn with God’s Word. But to check such open greediness there is need for the princes and government. They themselves should take note and have the courage to establish and maintain order in all kinds of trade and commerce. They must do this lest the poor be burdened and oppressed and the leaders themselves be burdened with other people’s sins.

250 This is enough of an explanation of what stealing is. Let the commandment not be understood too narrowly. But let it apply to everything that has to do with our neighbors. Briefly, in summary (as in the former commandments) this is what is forbidden: (a) To do our neighbor any injury or wrong (in any conceivable manner, by impeding, hindering, and withholding his possessions and property), or even to consent or allow such injury. Instead, we should interfere and prevent it. 251 (b) It is commanded that we advance and improve his possessions. When they suffer lack, we should help, share, and lend both to friends and foes [Matthew 5:42].

252 Whoever now seeks and desires good works will find here more than enough to do that are heartily acceptable and pleasing to God. In addition, they are favored and crowned with excellent blessings. So we are to be richly compensated for all that we do for our neighbor’s good and from friendship. King Solomon also teaches this in Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed.” 253 Here, then, you have a rich Lord. He is certainly enough for you. He will not allow you to come up short in anything or to lack [Psalm 37:25]. So you can with a joyful conscience enjoy a hundred times more than you could scrape together with unfaithfulness and wrong. Now, whoever does not desire this blessing will find enough wrath and misfortune.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 384

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Working From Home Day #1

Well, at our doctor appointment yesterday the doc told Kim to take things easy and limited her to lifting 10 pounds or less as she is at 2cm and 70% effaced. (Married guys, ask your wife what that means) Our due date isn't until January 8, so the doc just wants us to take things easy.

Fortunately, I'm able to work from home if needed, though, all my Lenski commentaries, Mueller, and Pieper are at the office. Since I use eSword (great stuff) I've at least got Keil and Delitsch.

One of several projects I have for today is to finish prepping a missions story for a club I have tonight. I've also got to finish putting together our "go bag" for when we have to head to the hospital.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weekly Lutheran Confessions Reading Group

Today in our weekly Lutheran Confessions Reading group we covered a section in the Formula of Concord about adiophora. The conversation eventually came to the Liturgy. It was a great discussion. I like how Dr. Rod Rosenbladt explained it when asked about the Liturgy. "It protects the congregation from the pastor when he has an off Sunday."

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria
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Saved By The Skin Of Your Teeth?

"I didn't know Steve was a Christian." "Suzan rededicated her heart to the Lord? She sure hasn't been living like it." "When this life is over, some people are going to realize that they were saved by the skin of their teeth."

These are things I've heard, both in the past and present. Apparently, you can tell who is saved and who is not. And apparently some people are more saved than others based upon how you see them live.

Now, true, in theory you should be able to tell if a person is saved or not. However, what about the truly moral person who is not saved? I've seen many an unsaved person live a moral life, much better than most Christians. Should we consider them to be saved based upon what they do? That's a rather problematic view. And the implication seems to be that the "moral Christian" who "has a handle" on his life is more saved and more securely so than the Christian who visibly struggles daily with the old Adam. Once again, if we base this upon what is visible, wouldn't the very opposite be true? The "moral Christian" would indeed be less saved because he has less to be saved from. After all, he needs Christ to work less in his life because he's got a handle on his sin. The Christian who daily struggles with the old Adam would thereby be saved more because he must rely on Christ more to work in his life because he does not have a handle on his sin. Once again, this problematic.

The further implication is that the Christian who visibly struggles with the old Adam is saved by the skin of his teeth and should consider just how lucky he is that God has found him worthy of being able to "make it" into heaven. If he were more saved he would struggle less, sin visibly less and be more like those wonderful "moral Christians" who visibly have it all figured out. To make matters worse, those (hopefully) "well-intentioned" "moral Christians" never cease to remind the struggling Christian (or even more often behind their backs) that they need to be more like them. Bigger, faster, stronger... heaping on more and more Law. (misuse of the third use anyone?) The problem there is that the Law does not give the power for a person to change. Only the Gospel does.

So, ignoring what is visible, are some Christians more saved than others? Are some of us saved merely by the skin of our teeth?

The Law
Romans 3:23: We are all sinners. ("all" means "all" and that's all that "all" will ever mean)
Psalm 51:5: We were sinners before we were born.
Romans 6:23a: What we have all earned, our wage, is death. Both physically and spiritually. If you've got no sin in your life you wouldn't die.
Romans 3:10-18: This is you. This is me.

The Gospel
Romans 10:17: God gives us faith
Ephesians 2:8-9: God saves us by His grace through the faith He has given us
Romans 6:23b: Salvation is God's gift to us.

Two answer both of our questions in a word.... "No." Why do we have these questions? I think it's a confusion of Justification and Sanctification. Justification: God's act of saving us. Sanctification: God's act of changing us. (Philippians 2:13) Justification is not visible, however, many times Sanctification is, which is why I believe these questions stem from that. It should be noted, however, that even Sanctification is God's work in us as well.

We are sinful, deserving of hell, and it is God who saves us. Salvation isn't graded. It's pass or fail. You are either saved, or you are not. That is the only distinction. There is only kind of Christian: Simul Justus Et Peccator. At once justified and sinner. (Romans 7, and yes, Paul wrote that as a Christian) Though we are saved, we unfortunately still sin. Thanks be to God that He gives us Faith, that He extends Grace, that He saves. We aren't saved by the skin of our teeth. We're are saved by the Grace of the risen Savior.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hymn Monday - "The Advent Of Our King"

Today's hymn, "The Advent Of Our King" (#331), is from the "Lutheran Service Book" (c) 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

The advent of our King Our prayers must now employ,
And we must hymns of welcome sing In strains of holy joy.

The everlasting Son Incarnate deigns to be,
Himself a servant's form put on To set His servants Free.

O Zion's daughter, rise To meet your lowly King,
Nor let your faithless heart despise The peace He comes to bring.

As judge, on clouds of light, he soon will come again
And His true members all unite With Him in heav'n to reign.

Before the dawning day Let sin's dark deeds be gone,
The sinful self be put away, The new self now put on.

All glory to the Son, Who comes to set us free,
With Father, Spirit, ever one Through all eternity.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent 1 Readings

Jeremiah 23:5-8
English Standard Version (ESV)

5 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'

7 "Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when they shall no longer say, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' 8but 'As the LORD lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.' Then they shall dwell in their own land."

Romans 13:11-14
English Standard Version (ESV)

11Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Matthew 21:1-9
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Triumphal Entry
1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5 "Say to the daughter of Zion,'Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"

6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

And I got my Deer

He's an older 6x5 buck with a pretty good sized body. I took him with my Ruger M77 Mark II 30-06 Rifle with a Burris scope from 60 yards.

Friday, November 25, 2011

And now the decorations can go up

A conviction of mine that has been getting stronger and stronger is waiting to put up the Christmas decorations. It seems more and more the media and stores keep on stocking earlier and earlier their Christmas wares. Christmas music starting November 1st? What's that about?

My conviction? The earliest decorations should go up or music should be played is the day after Thanksgiving. So, today, ours are going up. The 7 1/2 foot we that we didn't know for sure would fit our not in our new location does indeed fit and my wife's Polar Express train is going up around the base off the tree. I'm hoping that I can hide the magi before my wife knows what I've done so that they don't make it up with the rest of the nativity scene. (They didn't find Christ, after all, until he was about 2 years old. On Epiphany they can make an appearance)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I've been up since 4:30am today. I'm a bit on the sick side. Lots of issues with my stomach, but thankfully it's starting to even out.

I wasn't exactly ecstatic about time to be spent with extended family this thanksgiving, but then I got to thinking. At least I HAVE family to spend time with.

In my neck of the woods we have a number of imported people due to the Bakken Oil formation. Many of these folks don't have any family here at all, much less much of anything else. Many of them are living in pull type and pop up trailors, cooking their meals on a propane stove. I have no idea how the harsh Montana winter is going to treat them. I pray they weather things well.

I have a real roof over my head, no want for heat and family around me. That's a lot to be thankful for. Most importantly, I have a Savior who willingly took my place, taking the punishment for my sins so that I could be reconciled with the Father, not needing to fear death. We have much to be thankful for in Christ.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On the road

Well, the past several days my family and I have been out of town with some close friends. It was a nice change of pace for us. The girls went swimming quite a bit and really liked the animals at Cabelas. I even got to operate portable from my hotel room on 40 meters. (Yeah, ask a friend whose a ham radio operator to explain that one.) Well, out to the van I go for our last couple stops before the 4 hour drive home. Hope things have been going well for all of you.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What If My Baptizer Was A Tool?

"If the pastor who baptized me turned out to be a hypocrite or a really bad person, should I consider getting baptized again? Would it invalidate my Baptism?"

Water With The Word     No. Baptism is valid because of God's Word of promise with the water, not because of the spiritual state of the person adminstering it. Since all people are indeed sinners, we always receive the blessings of God through weak and imperfect human beings. God's gifts are not less valid because of the instruments he uses; in fact, they often end up shining all the brighter (2 Corinthians 4:7). We do not, of course, approve of sin for this reason (see Romans 3:7-8, 6:1-2)! But we do rejoice that we can be certain of our Baptism, which would not be possible if its validity were dependent on the internal state of the person administering it.
     --Kelly Klages

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hymn Monday - "Since Our Great High Priest, Christ Jesus"

Today's hymn, "Since Our Great High Priest, Christ Jesus" (#529), is from the "Lutheran Service Book" (c) 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

Since our great High Priest, Christ Jesus, Bears the name above all names
Reigning Son of God, surpassing Other titles, pow'rs and claims --
Since to heav'n our Lord has passed, Let us hold our witness fast!

Since we have a priest who suffered, Knowing weakness, tears, and pain,
Who like us was tried and tempted, Unlike us, without a stain --
Since He shared our lowly place, Let us boldly seek His grace.

Sacrifice and suff'ring over, Now He sits at God's right hand,
Crowned with praise, no more an outcast, His preeminence long-planned;
Such a great High Priest we have, Strong to help, supreme to save.

Love's example, hope's attraction, Faith's beginning and its end,
Pioneer of our salvation, Mighty advocate and friend;
Jesus, high in glory raised, Our ascended Lord be praised!

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Last Sunday Readings (Week before Advent)

Isaiah 65:17-25
English Standard Version (ESV)

New Heavens and a New Earth
17"For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
18But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.
20No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD,
and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain," says the LORD.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Day of the Lord
1Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Matthew 25:1-13
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Ten Virgins
1"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' 10And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' 12 But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Confessional Saturdays #9: Chief Articles of the Faith 19 - 20


77 The adversaries accept Article XIX. In it we confess that only God and He alone has created all nature and preserves all things that exist. Yet the cause of sin is the will of the devil and people turning away from God, according to the saying of Christ about the devil, “When he lies, he speaks out of his own character” (John 8:44).
78 In Article XX, they clearly state that they reject and condemn our statement that people do not merit the forgiveness of sins by good works. ‹Mark this well!› They clearly declare that they reject and condemn this article. What more can be said on a subject so clear? 79 Here the framers of the Confutation display what spirit leads them. What is more certain in the Church than that the forgiveness of sins happens freely for Christ’s sake, that Christ, and not our works, is the Atoning Sacrifice for sins, as Peter says, “To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43)? We would rather give agreement to this Church of the prophets than to these godless writers of the Confutation, who so rudely blaspheme Christ. 80 There were writers who held that after the forgiveness of sins, people are righteous before God, not by faith, but by works themselves. Yet, they did not hold that the forgiveness of sins happens because of our works, not freely for Christ’s sake.
81 The blasphemy of assigning Christ’s honor to our works cannot be tolerated. These theologians are now entirely shameless if they dare to bring such an opinion into the Church. Nor do we doubt that His Most Excellent Imperial Majesty and many of the princes would not have allowed this passage to remain in the Confutation had they been advised about it. 82 Here we could cite countless passages from Scripture and from the Fathers. But we have said enough about this subject before. One who knows why Christ has been given to us, and who knows that Christ is the Atoning Sacrifice for our sins, needs no further proof. Isaiah says, “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (53:6). The adversaries, on the other hand, teach that God does not lay our offenses on Christ, but on our works. Neither are we inclined to mention here the sort of works that they teach. 83 We see that a horrible decree has been prepared against us, which would terrify us still more if we were arguing about doubtful or silly subjects. Our consciences understand that the adversaries condemn the clear truth, whose defense is necessary for the Church and increases Christ’s glory. Therefore, we easily look down on the terrors of the world, and we will bear with a strong spirit all suffering for Christ’s glory and the Church’s benefits. 84 Who would not joyfully die in the confession of these articles, that we receive the forgiveness of sins through faith freely for Christ’s sake, and that we do not merit the forgiveness of sins by our works? 85 The consciences of the pious will not have sure enough comfort against the terrors of sin and of death, and against the devil tempting with despair, if they do not know that their confidence lies in the forgiveness of sins freely for Christ’s sake. This faith sustains and enlivens hearts in that most violent conflict with despair.
86 The cause is so worthy that we should refuse no danger. To every one of you who has agreed to our Confession, “Do not yield to the wicked, but, on the contrary, go forward the more boldly.” Do not yield when the adversaries, by means of terrors and tortures and punishments, try hard to drive away from you that comfort presented to the entire Church in our article. 87 Those seeking Scripture passages to settle their minds will find them. As the saying goes, at the top of his voice, Paul cries out that sins are freely forgiven for Christ’s sake. “It depends on faith,” he says, “in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed” (Romans 4:16; see also Romans 3:24–25). If the promise were to depend upon our works, it would not be sure. If forgiveness of sins were to be given because of our works, when would we know that we had received it? When would a terrified conscience find a work that it would consider enough to reconcile God’s anger? 88 We spoke fully about this entire matter before. The reader can get the references there. The unworthy presentation of the subject has forced us not to discuss, but complain. They have clearly gone on record as disapproving of our article, that we receive forgiveness of sins not because of our works, but through faith and freely because of Christ.
89 The adversaries also add references to their own condemnation, and it is worthwhile to provide several of them. They quote from 2 Peter 1:10, “Be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure.” Now you see, reader, that our adversaries have not wasted any effort in learning logic, but have the art of concluding whatever pleases them from the Scriptures. For they conclude, “Make your calling sure by good works.” Therefore, they think that works merit the forgiveness of sins. This is a very nice way of thinking, if one would argue this way about a person whose death sentence had been pardoned: “The judge commands that from now on you stop stealing from others. Therefore, you have earned the pardon from the punishment, because you no longer steal from others.” 90 To argue in this way makes a cause out of no cause. Peter speaks of works following the forgiveness of sins and teaches why they should be done. They should be done so that the calling may be sure, that is, should they fall from their calling if they sin again. Do good works in order that you may persevere in your calling, in order that you do not lose the gifts of your calling. They were given to you before, and not because of works that follow, and which now are kept through faith. Faith does not remain in those who lose the Holy Spirit and reject repentance. As we have said before (Article XII 1), faith exists in repentance.
91 They add other references that make no more sense. Finally, they say that this opinion was condemned a thousand years before, in Augustine’s time. This also is quite false. For Christ’s Church always held that the forgiveness of sins is received freely. Indeed, the Pelagians were condemned. They argued that grace is given because of our works. 92 Besides, we have shown above well enough that we hold that good works should follow faith. “Do we then overthrow the law?” asks Paul. “On the contrary, we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31), because when we have received the Holy Spirit through faith, the fulfilling of the Law necessarily follows. Patience, chastity, and other fruit of the Spirit gradually grow by this love.
Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 198
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

The Fall of man explained by my two year old daughters

My daughters attend a club for pre-schoolers that I lead that is designed to evangelize to them. Over the past several weeks I've been teaching the tots, about 30 or so of them ranging from age 2 - 5, about creation.

So yesterday my almost 2 1/2 year old daughters hop up onto the organ bench in our livingroom and start talking very seriously, almost preachingly/teachingly so. It took us a minute to notice. My wife and I ended up in a Q&A session with them to just what they were going on about.

The details were a bit scattered but we finally caught on: "...wasn't anything but made everything...God didn't need stuff to make new stuff...moon in the sky....had to name and take care of the animals...don't eat that fruit or God says you die...the boy grabbed the fish...he pulled the cats tail...bad snake..."

The "cat's tail" and "grabbed the fish" didn't make much sense to us for a few minutes until I figured out they were describing the big flashcards I use when teaching the kids. Those two examples were from cards I use in teaching about sin. "We break God's law and make him angry," they said when we asked them about sin.

So fathers and mothers, when you get frustrated when you're trying to read your children's story bible to them before they go to bed or when you try to take those teachable moments throughout the day to teach your children about the awesome God who saves and delivers us, be encouraged. They are absorbing what you're saying. God is using you teach them.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, November 18, 2011

Funny Friday #11

It's Funny Friday #11 We'll be having postings of a humorous nature. What a better place to start than with the folks at Lutheran Satire.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Historical Church Writings #15: Hermann Sasse on the one distinguishing characteristic of the Christian faith

Today is Historical Church Writing Thursday. Each Thursday will feature the writings of the church fathers, reformation fathers or other church writings. Today's Historical Church Writing is from Hermann Sasse:

    If one asks what the one characteristic feature of the Christian faith is, distinguishing it from all religions in the world, then we would have to say: It is the forgiveness of sins. The pious Jew and even a pious Mohammedan may hope for God's pardon. Forgiveness as a real gift, the full assurance of forgiveness, that is the gift of the Gospel.
     To proclaim the Gospel of forgiveness, to declare to repentant sinners the forgiveness of their sins, to distribute the Sacraments with all the gifts of divine grace contained in them, this and nothing else, is the proper task of the minister of Christ as it was the officium proprium [proper office] of Christ Himself. This the Church had to learn in the great crisis of the second century.... the church administration in Europe follows the patterns of the administration of the state, while in America the great business organizations seem to be unknowingly imitated by the churches. The consequence is that also the parish minister becomes more and more of an administrator and organizer who rushes from meeting to meeting and has not enough time for his proper calling as a shepherd.
     -- Hermann Sasse
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

LLC Wednesdays #8: Part 1 of Luther's Large Catechism, the Sixth Commandment

Today is Luther's Large Catechism Wednesdays! Each Wednesday we will be going through a section of Luther's Large Catechism.


199 You shall not commit adultery.

200 The following commandments are easily understood from the explanation of the preceding commandments. For they are all to show that we must avoid doing any kind of harm to our neighbor. But they are arranged in fine order. In the first place, they talk about our neighbor personally. Then they proceed to talk about the person nearest him, or the closest possession next after his body, namely, his wife. She is one flesh and blood with him [Genesis 2:23–24], so that we cannot inflict a higher injury upon him in any good that is his. Therefore, it is clearly forbidden here to bring any disgrace upon our neighbor regarding his wife. 201 The commandment really takes aim at adultery, because among the Jewish people it was ordained and commanded that everyone must be married. The young were engaged to be married early, and the virgin state was held in small esteem. Yet neither were public prostitution and lewdness tolerated (as now). Therefore, adultery was the most common form of unchastity among them.

202 But among us there is such a shameful mess and the very dregs of all vice and lewdness. Therefore, this commandment is directed against all kinds of unchastity, whatever it may be called. 203 Not only is the outward act of adultery forbidden, but also every kind of cause, motive, and means of adultery. Then the heart, the lips, and the whole body may be chaste and offer no opportunity, help, or persuasion toward inchastity. 204 Not only this, but we must also resist temptation, offer protection, and rescue honor wherever there is danger and need. We must give help and counsel, so as to maintain our neighbor’s honor. For whenever you abandon this effort when you could resist unchastity, or whenever you overlook it as if it did not concern you, you are as truly guilty of adultery as the one doing the deed. 205 To speak in the briefest way, this much is required of you: everyone must live chastely himself and help his neighbor do the same. So by this commandment God wishes to build a hedge round about [Job 1:10] and protect every spouse so that no one trespasses against him or her.

206 But this commandment is aimed directly at the state of marriage and gives us an opportunity to speak about it. First, understand and mark well how gloriously God honors and praises this estate. For by His commandment He both approves and guards it. He has approved it above in the Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother.” But here He has (as we said) hedged it about and protected it. 207 Therefore, He also wishes us to honor it [Hebrews 13:4] and to maintain and govern it as a divine and blessed estate because, in the first place, He has instituted it before all others. He created man and woman separately, as is clear [Genesis 1:27]. This was not for lewdness, but so that they might live together in marriage, be fruitful, bear children, and nourish and train them to honor God [Genesis 1:28; Psalm 128; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4].

208 Therefore, God has also most richly blessed this estate above all others. In addition, He has bestowed on it and wrapped up in it everything in the world, so that this estate might be well and richly provided for. Married life is, therefore, no joke or presumption. It is an excellent thing and a matter of divine seriousness. For marriage has the highest importance to God so that people are raised up who may serve the world and promote the knowledge of God, godly living, and all virtues, to fight against wickedness and the devil.

209 I have always taught that this estate should not be despised nor held in disrepute, as is done by the blind world and our false Church leaders. Marriage should be regarded as it is in God’s Word, where it is adorned and sanctified. It is not only placed on an equality with other estates, but it comes first and surpasses them all—emperor, princes, bishops, or whoever they please. For both Church and civil estates must humble themselves and all be found in this estate, as we shall hear. 210 Therefore, it is not a peculiar estate, but the most common and noblest estate that runs through all Christendom. Yes, it extends through all the world.

211 In the second place, you must know also that marriage is not only an honorable but also a necessary state. In general and in all conditions it is solemnly commanded by God that men and women, who were created for marriage, shall be found in this estate. Yet there are some exceptions (although few) whom God has especially set apart. They are not fit for the married estate. Or there are individuals whom He has released by a high, supernatural gift so that they can maintain chastity without this estate [Matthew 19:11–12]. 212 For where nature has its course—since it is given by God—it is not possible to remain chaste without marriage [1 Corinthians 7]. For flesh and blood remain flesh and blood. The natural desire and excitement have their course without delay or hindrance, as everybody sees and feels. In order, therefore, that it may be easier in some degree to avoid inchastity, God has commanded the estate of marriage. In this way everyone may have his proper portion and be satisfied with it. Yet God’s grace is also required in order that the heart may be pure.

213 From this you see how this popish rabble—priests, monks, and nuns—resist God’s order and commandment. For they despise and forbid matrimony, and they dare and vow to maintain perpetual chastity. Besides this, they deceive the simpleminded with lying words and appearances. For no one has so little love and desire for chastity as these very people. 214 Because of great sanctity, they avoid marriage and either indulge in open and shameless prostitution or secretly do even worse, so that one dare not speak of it. Unfortunately this has been learned too fully. 215 In short, even though they abstain from the act, their hearts are so full of unchaste thoughts and evil lusts that there is a continual burning and secret suffering, which can be avoided in the married life [1 Corinthians 7:9]. 216 Therefore, all vows of chastity outside of the married state are condemned by this commandment. Free permission to marry is granted. Indeed, even the command is given to all poor ensnared consciences that have been deceived by their monastic vows: abandon the unchaste state and enter the married life. They must consider that even if the monastic life were godly, it would still not be in their power to maintain chastity. And if they remain in their monastic vows, they must only sin more and more against this commandment.

217 Now, I speak of this in order that the young may be guided so that they desire the married estate and know that it is a blessed estate and pleases God. For in this way, over time we might cause married life to be restored to honor. There might be less of the filthy, loose, disorderly behavior that runs riot the world over in open prostitution and other shameful vices arising from disregard for married life. 218 Therefore, it is the duty of parents and the government to see to it that our youth are brought up with discipline and respectability. When they have become mature, parents and government should provide for them to marry in the fear of God and honorably. God would not fail to add His blessing and grace, so that people would have joy and happiness from marriage.

219 Let me now say in conclusion what this commandment demands: Everyone should live chaste in thought, word, and deed in his condition—that is, especially in the estate of marriage. But also everyone should love and value the spouse God gave to him [Ephesians 5:33]. For where marital chastity is to be maintained, man and wife must by all means live together in love and harmony. Then one may cherish the other from the heart and with complete faithfulness. For harmony is one of the principal points that enkindles love and desire for chastity, so that, where this is found, chastity will follow without any command. 220 Therefore, St. Paul diligently encourages husband and wife to love and honor one another. 221 Here you have again precious, indeed, many and great good works. You can joyfully boast about them, against all churchly estates chosen without God’s Word and commandment.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 381
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Identifying Singular and Plural Nouns

Up late with a sick kid? Work on your Greek!

Well, we discovered this evening that my daughter Signe has the flu tonight. This discovery led to an immediate chain of..."reactions" from a couple of our family members. The end result? I'm still up at 11:19 PM MST with my daughter playing Charlie Brown movies. We're slowing consuming fluids and Saltine Crackers.

Now I enjoy Charlie Brown as much as the next guy, but with Signe being so content with me sitting next to her, I figured I work on my Greek.

Several weeks ago I enrolled in basically an "Intro to Greek" class that my pastor teaches. It's over the span of 12 weeks or so, meeting for an hour and a half each Thursday. The class is designed more for laypeople like myself. We're using eSword (a free program I've been using heavily for the past year or so) which parses the Greek for you. Now I know, some of you are getting in a tizzy right now looking down your long noses at this whole thing, but hey, for a layguy who isn't in seminary, this is a good thing. (And don't worry, later on I will be delving deeper)

Imagine the realm of change that I was introduced to when I learned about passives! Goodness sakes! Oodles of passages on Sanctification made so more clearly! Absolute fantastic stuff! (Pardon the excitement, but that was ground breaking for me)

So, I'm up late, nothing I can do about it, so I figured I'd make some use of it.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Absolution From A 2 Year Old

It was one of those days. I had a plan of attack for my day, and then everything fell apart.

A week prior I was asked to help move a vehicle that was being taken to a dealership. I was asked to help tow it because the tire was flat. I brought my portable air compressor over and filled the tire. It would hold the air long enough for it to be driven to the dealership. The car was also loaded with "stuff" which I helped load into another vehicle. Also, the glove box had been stuck for the past year and half and the contents needed to be removed. That job as well was left to me to take care of. I was able to get the thing open, only to find items such as pens and pencils. Great, so now the glove box won't shut, and all on account of essentially worthless items. That being said, the car was now road worthy and had been cleaned out, ready to be driven that next morning to the dealership to be parted out. I wedged the glove box shut with a broken ice scraper. This being done, the battery would be fine for drive to its final destination the next morning. Ok, mission complete.

Fast forward. I hadn't heard back about moving the vehicle so I assumed it had been moved. Then I got the phone call asking me to help move the car. The caller kept cutting in and out, so I was only getting about 20% copy of what he was actually saying. (If you're a Ham radio operator, you understood that last sentence. If not, ask a Ham radio operator) I just happen to look out the window and see the call walking down my sidewalk to my house. Disgustedly I tell him to just tell me when I gets to my door and I hang up.

So I answer the door and get the scoop on the situation. I'm getting rather annoyed at this point. I did everything I could to be done with this stupid project, for both me and the individual, and I let him know it. (The guy I'm now openly being a jerk to is my brother.)  Out the back door I go to the garage, mumbling some pretty impolite things along the way right in front of my two year twin old daughters. I grab my portable air compressor and we hop into his new vehicle and drive to the location of the junker.

The tire is flat, naturally, so I fill it up and then hop in to start it up. The battery is dead. I notice that for whatever reason the ice scraper I'd wedged in to keep the glove box open is gone and the box is open. This battery isn't just dead, it's dead dead. No lights, no sounds, nothing. I shout for set of jumper cables. He doesn't have any. Tension is building more. Back into the new vehicle, a trip to my house to get a set of jumpers and then back to the junker.

We hook things up and wait. I go to start the car, she turns, wants to start, but just won't. After attempt three to do this I notice the fuel gage reading. Fumes, nothing but fumes. I hit the dash, hop out of the junker, in to the new vehicle, waiting in purposeful silence and then hop back into junker. I look at the dash, shake my head, and for the first time during this situation pray. "Dear Lord, I really need this car to start." Attempt number 4 the car starts.

Ok, we're getting somewhere now. I let the car run for several minutes to charge the battery back up and then down the road we go, for 8 blocks, where I have to pull over in front of my house because the car is now overheating. I shut the car off, hop out, and give my brother another earful about irresponsibility, hop back in the car and just hope that I can get this junker to the dealership without it blowing on me. I come to a red light and pull over, shutting off the car as it's overheating again.  Start it up and pull over a third time. Start it up a forth time and I finally get it to the dealership where I park it, shut it off and throw the keys to my brother. I wait fuming at the new vehicle until he comes back.

On the way back to my house I cool down some, that is, until we get into the house and realize that my keys to the church are now missing. I lose it. If my brother would have just driven that hunk of junk when he was supposed to this whole day would have been different. I vent loudly in front of the whole family, scaring my daughters with how angry I'm becoming. I tear out away from my house in my red F-150 and check all the places I've been, finally ending up at the parked junker where I find my lost keys.

I get back home and fly off the handle. It's bad, really bad, and I'm saying things in front of my daughters that I shouldn't be saying in any situation. My daughters start cowering. I'm scaring them badly. I'm so consumed about how "I've been wronged" by this situation, completely absorbed in my selfishness, that I forget my daughters until they start crying. Their tears bring about the Law, convicting me of my actions that afternoon. I sink into the chair, looking at my scared daughters, tears in my eyes as I do so. I call them over to me and they do so hesitantly.

Holding them in my arms I confessed to them. "Girls, Daddy is so sorry that he scared you. I was mad about my day and was selfish. I was mean to your uncle in front of you and said things that daddy should not have said. I'm so sorry that I scared you. Please forgive me." My daughter Brynja reaches up, puts her hands my cheeks and says "I forgive you Daddy..." And then, while reaching up and making the sign of the cross on my forehead, she brings me the Gospel and says "...and Jesus forgives you Daddy." Then the floodgates opened.

Thank you Father for my children. And thank you for the Gospel.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hymn Monday - "O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe"

Today's hymn, "Oh Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe" (#666), is from the "Lutheran Service Book" (c) 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

O little flock, fear not the foe
Who madly seeks your overthrow;
Dread not his rage and pow'r.
And though your courage sometimes faints,
His seeming triumph o'er God's saints
Lasts but a little hour.

Be of good cheer; your cause belongs
To Him who can a venge your wrongs;
Leave it to Him, our Lord.
Though hidden yet from mortal eyes,
His Gideon shall for you arise,
Uphold you and His Word.

As true as God's own Word is true,
Not earth nor hell's satanic crew
Against us shall prevail.
Their might? A joke, a mere facade!
God is with us and we with God --
Our vict'ry cannot fail.

Amen, Lord Jesus, grant our prayer;
Great Captain, now Thine arm make bare,
Fight for us once again!
So shall Thy saints and martyrs raise
A mighty chorus to Thy praise
Forevermore. Amen.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Second Last Sunday Readings

Daniel 7:9-14
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Ancient of Days Reigns
9"As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

11"I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

The Son of Man Is Given Dominion
13"I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

2 Peter 3:3-14
English Standard Version (ESV)

3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 5For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Final Words
14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

Matthew 25:31-46
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Final Judgment
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Confessional Saturdays #8: Chief Articles of the Faith 16 - 18


Civil Government

1 Our churches teach that lawful civil regulations are good works of God. 2 They teach that it is right for Christians to hold political office, to serve as judges, to judge matters by imperial laws and other existing laws, to impose just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to take oaths when required by the magistrates, for a man to marry a wife, or a woman to be given in marriage [Romans 13; 1 Corinthians 7:2].

3 Our churches condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these political offices to Christians. 4 They also condemn those who do not locate evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in faith, but place it in forsaking political offices. 5 For the Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart (Romans 10:10). At the same time, it does not require the destruction of the civil state or the family. The Gospel very much requires that they be preserved as God’s ordinances and that love be practiced in such ordinances. 6 Therefore, it is necessary for Christians to be obedient to their rulers and laws. 7 The only exception is when they are commanded to sin. Then they ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Christ’s Return for Judgment

1 Our churches teach that at the end of the world Christ will appear for judgment and will raise all the dead [1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:2]. 2 He will give the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, 3 but He will condemn ungodly people and the devils to be tormented without end [Matthew 25:31–46].

4 Our churches condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils.

5 Our churches also condemn those who are spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere suppressed.

Free Will

1 Our churches teach that a person’s will has some freedom to choose civil righteousness and to do things subject to reason. 2 It has no power, without the Holy Spirit, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness. For “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). 3 This righteousness is worked in the heart when the Holy Spirit is received through the Word [Galatians 3:2–6].

4 This is what Augustine says in his Hypognosticon, Book III:

We grant that all people have a free will. It is free as far as it has the judgment of reason. This does not mean that it is able, without God, either to begin, or at least to complete, anything that has to do with God. It is free only in works of this life, whether good or evil. 5 Good I call those works that spring from the good in nature, such as willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn various useful arts, or whatsoever good applies to this life. 6 For all of these things depend on the providence of God. They are from Him and exist through Him. 7 Works that are willing to worship an idol, to commit murder, and so forth, I call evil.

8 Our churches condemn the Pelagians and others who teach that without the Holy Spirit, by natural power alone, we are able to love God above all things and do God’s commandments according to the letter. 9 Although nature is able in a certain way to do the outward work (for it is able to keep the hands from theft and murder), yet it cannot produce the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, and so on.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 39
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, November 11, 2011

Funny Friday #10

It's Funny Friday #10 We'll be having postings of a humorous nature. What a better place to start than with the folks at Lutheran Satire.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Historical Church Writings #14: Martin Luther on Baptsim

Today is Historical Church Writing Thursday. Each Thursday will feature the writings of the church fathers, reformation fathers or other church writings. Today's Historical Church Writing is from Martin Luther:

     Hence, not only are sins forgiven in baptism, but we are also made sure and certain that God is so well pleased with it that he, together with Christ and his Holy Spirit, proposes to be present when it is administered and he himself will be the baptizer; although this glorious revelation of the divine majesty does not now occur visibly, as it did at that time on the Jordan, since it is sufficient that it occurred once as a witness and a sign.
     Therefore we should diligently accustom ourselves to look upon these things with eyes of faith and to interpret this glorious revelation and divine radiance and splendor which shone forth above the baptism of Christ as happening to us; for all this did not happen and all this was not recorded for Christ's sake, for he himself did not baptize [John 4:2], but rather for our comfort and the strengthening of our faith, for the sake of which he also accepted baptism. Therefore wherever anybody is being baptized according to Christ's command we should be confidently convinced that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is present there, and that there is pure delight, pleasure, and joy in heaven over the fact that sin is forgiven, the heavens opened forever, and that now there is no more wrath but only grace unalloyed.
     -- Martin Luther
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

LLC Wednesdays #7: Part 1 of Luther's Large Catechism, the Fifth Commandment

Today is Luther's Large Catechism Wednesdays! Each Wednesday we will be going through a section of Luther's Large Catechism.


179 You shall not murder.

180 We have now finished teaching about both the spiritual and the temporal government, that is, the divine and the parental authority and obedience. But now we go forth from our house among our neighbors to learn how we should live with one another, everyone himself toward his neighbor. 181 Therefore, God and government are not included in this commandment. Nor is the power to kill taken away, which God and government have. To punish evildoers, God has delegated His authority to the government, not parents. In earlier times, as we read in Moses, parents were required to bring their own children to judgment and even to sentence them to death [Deuteronomy 21:18–21]. Therefore, what is forbidden in this commandment is forbidden to the individual in his relationship with anyone else, but not to the government.

182 Now, this commandment is easy enough and has often been presented, because we hear it each year in the Gospel of St. Matthew 5:20–26, where Christ Himself explains and sums it up. He says that we must not kill, neither with hand, heart, mouth, signs, gestures, help, nor counsel. Therefore, this commandment forbids everyone to be angry, except those (as we said) who are in the place of God, that is, parents and the government. For it is proper for God and for everyone who is in a divine estate to be angry, to rebuke, and to punish because of those very persons who transgress this and the other commandments [Romans 13:4].

183 The cause and need of this commandment is that God well knows that the world is evil [Galatians 1:4], and that this life has much unhappiness. Therefore, He has set up this and the other commandments between the good people and the evil. Now, just as there are many attacks on all commandments, so the same happens also with this commandment. We must live among many people who do us harm, and we have a reason to be hostile to them.

184 For example, when your neighbor sees that you have a better house and home, ‹a larger family and more fertile fields,› greater possessions and fortune from God than he does, he gets in a bad mood, envies you, and speaks no good of you.

So by the devil’s encouragement you will get many enemies who cannot bear to see you have any good, either bodily or spiritual. When we see such people, our hearts also would like to rage and bleed and take vengeance. Then there arise cursing and blows. From them misery and murder finally come. 185 In this commandment God—like a kind father—steps in ahead of us, intervenes, and wishes to have the quarrel settled, so that no misfortune comes from it and no one destroys another person. And briefly, He would in this way protect, set free, and keep in peace everyone against the crime and violence of everyone else. He would have this commandment placed as a wall, fortress, and refuge around our neighbor so that we do not hurt or harm him in his body.

186 The commandment has this goal, that no one would offend his neighbor because of any evil deed, even though he has fully deserved it. For where murder is forbidden, all cause from which murder may spring is also forbidden. For many people, although they do not kill, curse and utter a wish that would stop a person from running far if it were to strike him on the neck. 187 Now, this urge dwells in everyone by nature. It is common practice that no one is willing to suffer at the hands of another person. Therefore, God wants to remove the root and source by which the heart is embittered against our neighbor. He wants to make us used to keeping this commandment ever in view, always to contemplate ourselves in it as in a mirror [James 1:23–25], to regard the will of God, and to turn over to Him the wrong that we suffer with hearty confidence and by calling on His name. In this way we shall let our enemies rage and be angry, doing what they can. We learn to calm our wrath and to have a patient, gentle heart, especially toward those who give us cause to be angry (i.e., our enemies).

188 Therefore, the entire sum of what it means not to murder is to be impressed most clearly upon the simpleminded [Deuteronomy 6:7]. In the first place, we must harm no one, either with our hand or by deed. We must not use our tongue to instigate or counsel harm. We must neither use nor agree to use any means or methods by which another person may be injured. Finally, the heart must not be ill disposed toward anyone or wish another person ill in anger and hatred. Then body and soul may be innocent toward everyone, but especially toward those who wish you evil or inflict such things upon you. For to do evil to someone who wishes you good and does you good is not human, but devilish.

189 Second, a person who does evil to his neighbor is not the only one guilty under this commandment. It also applies to anyone who can do his neighbor good, prevent or resist evil, defend, and save his neighbor so that no bodily harm or hurt happen to him—yet does not do this [James 2:15–16]. 190 If, therefore, you send away someone who is naked when you could clothe him, you have caused him to freeze to death. If you see someone suffer hunger and do not give him food, you have caused him to starve. So also, if you see anyone innocently sentenced to death or in similar distress, and do not save him, although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed him. It will not work for you to make the excuse that you did not provide any help, counsel, or aid to harm him. For you have withheld your love from him and deprived him of the benefit by which his life would have been saved.

191 God also rightly calls all people murderers who do not provide counsel and help in distress and danger of body and life. He will pass a most terrible sentence upon them in the Last Day, as Christ Himself has announced that He will say, “I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me” [Matthew 25:42–43]. This means: You would have allowed Me and Mine to die of hunger, thirst, and cold. You would have allowed the wild beasts to tear us to pieces, or left us to rot in prison or perish in distress. 192 What else is that but to rebuke them as murderers and bloodhounds? For although you have not actually done all this to someone, you have still, so far as you were concerned, let him wither and perish in misfortune.

It is just as if I saw someone navigating and laboring in deep water, or one fallen into fire, and could extend to him the hand to pull him out and save him, and yet refused to do it. How would I look, even in the eyes of the world? Just like a murderer and a criminal.

193 Therefore, it is God’s ultimate purpose that we let harm come to no one, but show him all good and love. 194 As we have said, this commandment is especially directed toward those who are our enemies. For to do good to our friends is an ordinary heathen virtue, as Christ says in Matthew 5:46.

195 Here again we have God’s Word, by which He would encourage and teach us to do true, noble, and grand works such as gentleness, patience, and, in short, love and kindness to our enemies [Galatians 5:22–23]. He would ever remind us to reflect upon the First Commandment—He is our God, which means He will help, assist, and protect us in order that He may quench the desire of revenge in us.

196 We ought to practice and teach this; then we would have our hands full by doing good works. 197 But this would not be preaching for monks. It would greatly undermine from the religious calling and interfere with the sanctity of Carthusians. It would even be regarded as forbidding good works and clearing the convents. For the ordinary state of Christians would be considered just as worthy—and even worthier than monastic life. Everybody would see how the Carthusians mock and delude the world with a false, hypocritical show of holiness [Matthew 23:27], because they have cast this and other commandments to the winds. They have considered them unnecessary, as though they were not commandments, but mere “evangelical counsels.” At the same time, they have shamelessly proclaimed and boasted about their hypocritical calling and works as the most perfect life. They do this so that they might lead a pleasant, easy life, without the cross and without patience. For this reason also, they have created the cloisters, so that they might not be obliged to suffer any wrong from anyone or to do that person any good. 198 But know now that the works of this commandment are the true, holy, and godly works. God rejoices in them with all the angels. In comparison with these works all human holiness is just stench and filth [Isaiah 64:6]. And besides, human holiness deserves nothing but wrath and damnation.
Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 379

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beware this Halloween Children's Tract. THEOLOGY FAIL

Being in children's ministries a lot of different stuff comes across my desk. A lot of stuff is from churches trying to offload their "Sunday School surplus". In that case I try to give them information for area churches who might benefit from the materials as I'm rather limited to the kinds of materials that I'm allowed to use. Many people give me shoeboxes full of tracts for children and adults. Honestly, most of those are best suited to help start the fires in my chimenia stove thing on our patio in the evenings. But in the past week I recieved a particular Halloween children's tract from yet another well meaning individual that I just had to share with you all. It's bad folks, really bad. Oh, it's attractive and well put together cosmetically, but the theology is bad. Bad bad. Hellfire and brimstone heretically bad.

This tract is tract number 285 from "The Tract League" in Grand Rapids, MI. ( What scares me overall is two fold. #1: The poor, heretical teachings. #2: You can purchase these for $1.25 a dozen or 100 for $8.00 plus postage, which worries me as to how many of these heretical things have actually been passed out to children. The image at the side of this post is the actual tract. The only editing I have done is to arrange the pages into one vertical column to fit nicely in this post. I have not edited it in any way besides this layout. Everything else that you see is as it's printed. Here are just a few of my concerns with this tract. There are more, but I'm just going to hit a few highlights:

CONCERN #1: The third point of this tract teaches the reader that they must live to please God in order to be saved. This is teaching works-righteousness. HUGE problem. They sight Galations 6:7-8, which would make sense if you believe in the heretical teaching of works-righteousness. They could be blending justification with sanctification here possibly. I don't know for sure. Apparently Acts 16:31 or John 1:12-13 was overlooked. Their third point here was absolute garbage. (incidently, this point is in direct contrast to what they say in the first paragraph next to the cowboy guy. "The Bible says that all who believe in Him are saved from the devil and given eternal life.")  This could have been a point to talk about sin, how all have sinned, are born in sin, and that we can do nothing in and of ourselves to do anything about our sin, as well as what the penalty for this sin is.

CONCERN #2: Speaking of sin, it's not even mentioned until the end of the tract! There's no definition of it, no explanation that we are all guilty of it, no explanation that prior to Christ we are helpless to it and can do nothing escape the punishment for it.

CONCERN #3:  This tract essentially puts the reader in relation to God and the Devil. It's kind of like they're trying to convince the reader to be a part of God's team vs. being a part of the Devil's team. Uh, it's not that you're either on God's team or the Devil's team. It's you're either saved by God or you go to Hell. Satan doesn't have a team. He's condemned. Hell is his punishment and not his realm of rule. They really botch things in the first paragraph next to the cowboy guy when they say "The Bible says that all who believe in Him are saved from the devil and given eternal life." Those who are in Christ are not saved from the Devil. In fact, in many cases, those who are in Christ are under more spiritual attack than those who are unbelievers. We aren't saved from the Devil, we are saved from the punishment of sin, which is Hell. Once again, the Devil doesn't rule Hell. It's his punishment.

CONCLUSION: There's several more things I could go on about, but I just wanted to hit a few highlights. If you're a Confessional Lutheran or a Reformed reading this, I think it's pretty safe to assume that we probably have the same opinion about the prayer at the end. I could go on several more paragraphs just on the prayer they have.

Despite that this particular tract is heretical in it's teaching, is passing out tracts at Halloween to Trick or Treaters a bad idea? I don't think so. Just make sure it's biblically sound. It's a great opportunity to share Law and Gospel to kids that you probably won't have opportunities to later. That being said, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to include the address of your church. In fact I strongly suggest doing that. Let's say that a child who reads the tract that you gave him does indeed have faith as a result of hearing the word of God. There are "churches" that I don't need to name that we don't want them going to to be discipled at. Put your church info on or with that tract so that they can be biblically discipled. Also, it wouldn't have been the first time that parents and families were introduced to church and the Gospel through a child.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hymn Monday - "The Gospel Shows the Father's Grace"

Today's hymn, "The Gospel Shows the Father's Grace" (#686), is from the "Lutheran Service Book" (c) 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

The Gospel shows the Father's grace, Who sent His Son to save our race,
Proclaims how Jesus lived and died That we might thus be justified.

It sets the Lamb before our eyes, Who made the atoning sacrifice,
And calls the souls with guilt oppressed To come and find eternal rest.

It brings the Savior's righteousness To robe our souls in royal dress;
From all our guilt it brings release And gives the troubled conscience peace.

It is the pow'r of God to save From sin and Satan and the grave;
It works the faith which firmly clings To all the treasures which it brings.

It bears to all the tidings glad And bids their hearts no more be sad;
The weary, burdened souls it cheers And banishes their guilty fears.

May we in faith its message learn Nor thanklessly its blessings spurn;
May we in faith its truth confess And praise the Lord, our righteousness.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria