The Gospel for my messy life …

In Christ, God Is Well Pleased With You!

“Christ frees you and me from our self-enslaving thrones. Christ frees you from the need to justify yourself, the need to be in control, the need to have recognition, and the need to seek manmade fulfillment. May the old Sinful nature in each and every one of us be utterly killed and destroyed, for we are forgiven of this idolatry, placed in the shadows of the Cross and given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm.

Baptized Saints, the sins of your past, the sins of today and the sins of tomorrow cannot and will not destroy the authority, power and work of Christ and His Word for you. You, who have ears, hear this present reality. In Christ you are forgiven, are chosen, have a legacy, and have an identity. In Christ, God is well pleased with you, for Christ has sufficiently accomplished everything for you and has made you citizens not of any earthly kingdom, but His kingdom that will have no end.” – Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard

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Martin Luther’s Definition of Faith

“Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. “Faith is not enough,” they say, “You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.” They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, “I believe.” That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn’t come from this `faith,’ either.

Instead, faith is God’s work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.”

– An excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

-Translated by Rev. Robert E. Smith from DR. MARTIN LUTHER’S VERMISCHTE DEUTSCHE SCHRIFTEN. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63 Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. [EA 63:124-125]

Quote By Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)

A compassionate friend is a gift of grace, mercy and humility within a friendship. – Pedro Rodriguez

I Still Sin, Because I am A Sinner!

ROMANS CHAPTER 7

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

QUOTES FROM MARTIN LUTHER

“Strange, though I am saved from sin, I am not saved from sinning.”

“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”

ON CHRISTIAN FREEDOM  > “Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.”

“In accusing me of being a damnable sinner, you are cutting your own throat, Satan. You are reminding me of God’s fatherly goodness toward me, that He so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. In calling me a sinner, Satan, you really comfort me above measure.”

“The devil and temptations also do give occasion unto us somewhat to learn and understand the Scriptures, by experience and practice. Without trials and temptations we should never understand anything thereof; no, not although we diligently read and heard the same.”

“So then, have we nothing to do to obtain righteousness? No, nothing at all! For this righteousness comes by doing nothing, hearing nothing, knowing nothing, but rather in knowing and believing this only–that Christ has gone to the right hand of the Father, not to become our judge, but to become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, our salvation!

Now God sees no sin in us. For in this heavenly righteousness, sin has no place. So now we may certainly think, “Although I still sin, I don’t despair, because Christ lives–who is both my righteousness and my eternal life.” In that righteousness I have no sin, no fear, no guilty conscience, no fear of death. I am indeed a sinner in this life of mine and in my own righteousness, but I have another life, another righteousness above this life, which is in Christ, the Son of God, who knows no sin or death, but is eternal righteousness and eternal life. For if the truth of being justified by Christ alone (not by our works) is lost, then all Christian truths are lost…On this truth and only on this truth the Church is built and has its being.”

“If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, then you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious [or imaginary] sinners. Be a sinner and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly still. For he is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”

Lutheran Pastor Matthew Richard, “Sin is like glue. It clings to us, damns us unto death, and puts us in the grave. But take comfort you baptized children of God. The Gospel puts you not in your own grave, but in Jesusgrave where you are promised a future resurrection at His second coming, a resurrection of the body; full salvation free from sin, free from the fear of death, and free from the pathetic lies and deceit of the evil one.”

Galatians Chapter Three

Faith or Works of the Law

3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

The Law and the Promise

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.

21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

Children of God

23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

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“While many sermons on Sunday may teach the orthodox Christian faith, most are not proper because they do not apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lives of believers. Sure, you may leave church after hearing the truth concerning both the Divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ – that He is both man and God, but most likely you will not have heard the Gospel applied to your everyday life. Here is a case study illustrating this fact, based on a recent broadcast of Law & Gospel by Pastor Tom Baker. All names are fictitious.

Ann is a middle-aged woman who recently lost her husband in an automobile accident, where a drunk driver was responsible. She is a member of a mainstream Christian church denomination where her fellow members and pastor all encourage her to forget and forgive because the bible tells her she must do so. After all, we read such commands in the bible. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, St Paul writes:

Ephes. 4:32
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Jesus Himself states:
Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, [15] but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Grieving over the loss of her life’s companion, Ann is naturally confused. When asked, she forcefully testifies she is not angry with God, but instead angry with the drunk driver who caused her pain and suffering. Her pastor and church friends are uncomfortable being around Ann and continue to encourage her to forgive the drunk driver and get on with her life. But Ann cannot simply do this. She thinks she is in a good church home and has heard the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But has she really?

Most Christian denominations believe that “if the bible says it, then that settles it – I believe it”. Sadly, such a viewpoint is prominent throughout Christianity and demonstrates a profound ignorance of the Word of God. There are two methods God speaks in His Word: Law and Gospel. “Law” is shorthand for the will of God, usually understood in the context of the ten commandments. In the above Scripture quotations, these verses are definitely Law. It is the will of God that we forgive one another, just as stated in the Lord’s Prayer(e.g. Matthew 6:12). All religions of the world are Law based, believing that the way a person gets right with God is by doing the will of God. Such people are referred to as those who live under the Law. Although Ann’s denomination professes belief in Jesus Christ, this church is not really different from all other religions of the world because it encourages it’s members to live under the Law. Ann is terribly burdened by her loss and under condemnation for failing to forgive the drunk driver who killed her husband. Instead of comforting Ann, her church burdens her with the full weight of the Law: Ann must forgive. This is a classic example of the failure to properly distinguish between Law and Gospel.

The bible is riddled with passages of Scripture that are either Law or Gospel. In fact, many verses can be understood as either one, depending upon whether one lives under Law or under the Gospel. Most denominations fail to understand that the primary purpose of the Law is to reveal and magnify sin, not to present a challenge for a man to keep the will of God(Romans 3:20;5:20). The Law of God is good in that it reveals the will of God, but it only condemns a person and does not enable him to keep it. The Law is a mirror showing us how imperfect and sinful we really are and is a tutor pointing to Christ(Galatians 3:24). Most denominations know the Law well and rather than emphasize the scriptural purpose for it, they encourage members to try to keep it, often believing that the Holy Spirit will empower people to do this, thus pleasing God. Such encouragement is a confusion of Law and Gospel and even attempts to use the cross of Christ as Law rather than Gospel! Such denominations believe that the purpose of the bible is to present “right rules for living”. Unfortunately, this is not Christianity, but rather exactly what all other man made religions of the world teach, such as Buddhism, Mormonism, or Islam.

Romans chapters 7 and 8 illustrate the apostle Paul’s understanding of Law and Gospel, sin and Grace. Romans 7:9 shows how the Law created awareness of sin for Paul and the inner turmoil over failure to keep it. Paul says that even though the Law is good, it caused death for him. In verse 15 Paul states that he does the exact opposite of the will of God, despite his desire to do otherwise! Verse 24 shows Paul exclaiming what a wretched man he is, finally realizing that the only solution to his dilemma is Jesus Christ. Paul is no different than any other man: All have sinned and fallen short of the will of God(Romans 3:23). The good news is that there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus(Romans 8:1). Most denominations don’t seem to understand why there is no condemnation of believers such as Ann, who professes belief in Jesus Christ. Instead, such churches place Ann on another guilt trip for failure to keep the Law completely. Such denominations read Romans 8:1-6 as those who live under the Law, believing that walking according to the flesh refers to continuing to sin and walking according to the Spirit as ceasing from sinning. But this is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Such churches should be embarrassed and ashamed at failing their members. Ann’s denomination does not heed the Scriptures, which plainly state that the Law reveals sin to those secure in their sins, as shown above, but that the Gospel is to be given to those terrified of their trespasses. Jesus came to fulfill the Law perfectly for all men, including Ann(Matthew 5:17). Jesus did what no other man was capable of – He was the Representative Man. Jesus came not for the righteous, but sinners(Matthew 9:13), including Ann. As a believer, Ann is concerned over her failure to forgive, which is a sin of omission, not commission(e.g. James 4:17). The Gospel is that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the entire world, which includes Ann(John 3:16). Jesus did not die for those who kept the will of God perfectly throughout their entire lives, but for sinners. Only Christ lived the perfect, sinless life. This is the GOOD NEWS, the Gospel, which is rarely preached from the pulpits of most denominations. The Gospel is not that God forgives your sins and sends the Holy Spirit to enable you to keep the Law of God. The Gospel is 100 percent gift: God forgives your sins because the Son of God took the punishment for your sins. God gives you the gift of Faith in which to receive this blessing and also the seal of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). Jesus Christ exchanges His Righteousness for your sins so that we become adopted children of God through absolutely no merit of our own. Being aware of her sins and failure to forgive the person who killed her husband, instead of being burdened with more Law, Ann should have been comforted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ann should be encouraged to continue to walk by the Spirit, confessing her sins and receiving the forgiveness of sins and the peace of God through Jesus Christ her Savior, which is living under the Gospel. Jesus Christ lived the perfect life of obedience under the Law for Ann. Jesus Christ received the full wrath of God for Ann’s sins. In the eyes of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, Ann is considered perfect, sinless, and righteous(2Cor 5:21). This is the Gospel. This is the comfort and peace which is sorely lacking in Christian preaching today.

Source: By Frank Marron (Lutheran) – http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2006/09/guest-blog-properly-dividing-law-and.html

“The gospel is good news for losers, not winners. It’s for those who long to be freed from slavery of believing that all of their significance, meaning, purpose, and security depend on their ability to become a better you.” – Tullian Tchividjian

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