Jan 262015
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The popularity of the film “American Sniper” is taking much of the media and indeed, the country, by surprise. While it’s not a film I’m interested in (I’m saving up for the new “Avengers”) I do believe it’s popularity says something worth taking note of.

That being, that this country is still fundamentally conservative, based on Judeo-Christian values by osmosis and by faith. A lot of folks have voted with their wallets in regard to this movie and I believe those same folks are growing weary of being told what to think in regard to their values. It may well be the first shot in a much bigger cultural backlash…

2. Beware of the teachers who preach “grace” as if they were the ones who bought it…

3. Biblical grace is always offered with an expectation of obedience when accepted. The truth that grace covers our disobedience doesn’t negate the weight of that expectation…

4. Looking for “balance” in theology is a fools quest…there is no balance, there is “tension” and that tension is meant to be held and expected to remain unresolved…

5. Christians have their own “fads”. In my lifetime, spiritual warfare, eschatology, and even Calvinism have become part of our pop theology. Now it’s all about “grace” and I pray that we don’t do it the harm we’ve done to every other doctrinal fad…

6. Pauls vision of the church in passages such as Romans 12 and 1 Cor 12 is antithetical to the American evangelical way of doing church…when was the last time your spiritual gifting was recognized and used in the assembly?

7. Why are the signs of the times always negative? The incredible advances in technology, medicine, communication, and transportation have to have some biblical significance as well…even if it’s just to praise God for what He’s given.

8. “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?””(Matthew 16:15 ESV) The answer to that question is what divides the orthodox from the heretic…

9. I was going to write an amusing line about “Deflategate” and under inflated balls, but I’ll just think it and chuckle to myself…

10. Miss Kitty likes to go about the house and neighborhood spraying out her territory as if she owns it. The problem is that she has the wrong equipment and no spray…reminds me of some preachers I know.

 

  130 Responses to “Things I Think”

  1. “5. Christians have their own “fads”. In my lifetime, spiritual warfare, eschatology, and even Calvinism have become part of our pop theology. Now it’s all about “grace” and I pray that we don’t do it the harm we’ve done to every other doctrinal fad…”

    I was thinking this just today as I read through several of my FB posts. I remember 15 years ago reading Brennan Manning on grace and discovering, for the first time, I was truly loved….and not because of some standard I lived up to.

    We Christians truly do need to receive the grace of God, but with that grace I believe there should be a response of incredible humility and thanksgiving and a desire to live unto His glory….even though we fail miserably.

  2. I haven’t seen the “grace” fad. What’s it about? Can’t imagine that being a bad thing.

  3. Josh,

    TullianTchividjian has made it cool to talk incessantly about one part of the Gospel message and there are now innumerable little Tullians quoting Luther out of context and lifting pithy sayings that Tullian lifted from Steve Brown.

    When Brown taught about this he also taught a robust theology around it…now we have grace by Facebook post and the theology is anything but robust.

    It’s the latest way to get people to pay attention to you online…

  4. Nonnie,

    Well said….that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

  5. regarding #9, some of my favorite jokes or observations are my own to cherish…and they are always amusing. They are like inside information or a really good secret. Other times, they are so inappropriate, I have to keep them to myself and repent… 😉

    with #2, teachers need to be forged by grace on the anvil of life; not shape it to their own style or purposes.

    #6 I agree. The professionalization of the ministry, the campus-centric trend in evangelicalism, and unbalanced equipping and teaching has led to an audience/performer mentality in many circles of the church.

  6. Hmm. I haven’t noticed. I have found Tullian to be pretty sound, though.

  7. fil,

    Amen to all three…keeping much levity to myself this week and repenting later… 🙂

  8. I am confused about your #6 for a couple reasons. First, the inclusion of “evangelical” considering the non-evangelical churches are as likely if not more so to be total or partial cessationists.

    But more importantly, how exactly are you expecting the gifts of giving, helps, administration and so forth to be “used” in the assembly.

    They most certainly are recognized by plenty of churches…..and appreciated.

  9. Steve,

    You and I will probably disagree on this.
    I believe with everything I’ve got that “church” has become little more than attending a religious lecture with one gift being displayed…more if you count the musicians.
    If you’re not up front the only gift you can exercise is “giving”.
    I don’t believe that was how it was originally intended…

  10. I assure you that a church with four services on Sunday morning requires a lot more than just me, the music, and the offering. 🙂

  11. #7 “Why are the signs of the times always negative?”

    Because the negative engenders FEAR and fear sells and the “last-times specialists” have to stay in business. And, they will then pawn themselves off as having “sources” in high political places or in the Middle East. Their information isn’t available to the mere mortals, of course. So, they try and foster a dependence on their books and teachings.

  12. It seems that the more recognizable churches do have more of a performance mentality, and thus, create a performer/ consumer dynamic with the vast majority of attendees being passive observers rather than participants.
    However, I’d also guess that most smaller churches do recognize, allow, and encourage people to exercise their gifts. It just so happens that when you do church this way, you have to stay fairly small, and it will get messy.

  13. David M,

    Well done!
    I agree…

  14. True story you might find of interest. A recent widow in our church told us yesterday she was going to find another church. She said it was all my fault (with a smile).

    Background – She and her husband used to drive a long way to worship at our church, and with her husband deceased she is finding the drive very long and of course, far more lonelier and has concerns about safety etc.

    She felt a strong burden for the last few weeks (since I taught the passage in Timothy) that she should be serving in her home church, and she just could not see how that was possible with the long commute. So, she is finding a church close to home.

    I said, Praise the Lord. (Though I will miss her)

  15. Josh, I agree with you that it will probably remain small and “messy.” However, I have found that small and messy can be incredibly beautiful and God’s glory shines through in people’ lives.

  16. Well, if Grace is a fad, it’s gotta be a good one. I can think of worse.

    I am glad the fad of “faith alone” caught on in 1517.

    Great Thoughts for the Day. Very thought provoking.

  17. I have to go get ready for the podcast…back later.

  18. Little Tullians, Browns, Luthers, Calvins, Coursons, and Christs….

    Indeed, we are all “Little Christs”.

  19. Nonnie #1: “We Christians truly do need to receive the grace of God, but with that grace I believe there should be a response of incredible humility and thanksgiving and a desire to live unto His glory….even though we fail miserably.”

    Michael #9 “I believe with everything I’ve got that “church” has become little more than attending a religious lecture with one gift being displayed…more if you count the musicians.
    If you’re not up front the only gift you can exercise is “giving”.

    Amen and Amen.

  20. Steve, that is a beautiful story. Good for you!

  21. “I believe with everything I’ve got that “church” has become little more than attending a religious lecture with one gift being displayed…more if you count the musicians.
    If you’re not up front the only gift you can exercise is “giving”.
    I don’t believe that was how it was originally intended…”

    Michael, the longer I live, the more I believe the same. I will even go a step further by saying that everything is centered around the “religious lecture”. Maybe I’m becoming more liturgical in my old age.

  22. Our way of “doing church” must surely look different than the way they did church in the first century. My question: does that fact, alone, make it a bad thing? I am not saying it is or is not. Just asking.

    We don’t live in the first century, nor in the Middle East. We live in the here and now and the world is different than it was in the first century. Just as it was different in the first century from the tenth century, BC.

    I do chaffe against the religious lecture, though. Unless, it is a really good sermon. LOL. Then it becomes a means of God’s grace to me.

  23. Neo, “We don’t live in the first century, nor in the Middle East. We live in the here and now and the world is different than it was in the first century. Just as it was different in the first century from the tenth century, BC. ”

    That is a huge factor on many levels, IMO, not only in how we view ‘church’, but how we view much of the Scriptures. This reality motivates my prayers as I read the Bible.

  24. Neo,
    I would submit that our services are a result of cultural/social characteristics that have elevated the rational (modernism) and promoted entertainment (style, music, theater) over sacrifice/sharing, relationship/mutual communication, and confessional/prayer components seen in earlier periods of church history. I’m not sure there is a path back.

  25. Very early church worship would have looked much like a synagogue service. It was likely due to early Christians worshipping in the same synagogues as Jews that gave rise to the tensions that even secular historians mention – see Acts.

    Synagogue services opened with a prayer, benedictions, readings of the Commandments(followed by an AMEN response), more prayers and benedictions(also with response), lessons from the law and prophets, homily, then final benedictions.

    Take a look at the Didache, which has the first description of a Eucharist service in chapters 9.

    Take a look at this link, paying attention to the link from Justin Martyr: https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/issue/worship-in-the-early-church/

  26. From Justin Martyrs description:

    On the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a given city or rural district. The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits. Then when the reader ceases, the president in a discourse admonishes and urges the imitation of these good things. Next we all rise together and send up prayers.

    When we cease from our prayer, bread is presented and wine and water. The president in the same manner sends up prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people sing out their assent, saying the “Amen.” A distribution and participation of the elements for which thanks have been given is made to each person, and to those who are not present they are sent by the deacons.

    Those who have means and are willing, each according to his own choice, gives what he wills, and what is collected is deposited with the president. He provides for the orphans and widows, those who are in need on account of sickness or some other cause, those who are in bonds, strangers who are sojourning, and in a word he becomes the protector of all who are in need.

    We all make our assembly in common on Sunday, since it is the first day, on which God changed the darkness and matter and made the world, and Jesus Christ our Savior arose from the dead on the same day. For they crucified him on the day before Saturn’s day, and on the day after (which is the day of the Sun) he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught these things, which we have offered for your consideration.

  27. “Those who have means and are willing, each according to his own choice, gives what he wills, and what is collected is deposited with the president. He provides for the orphans and widows, those who are in need on account of sickness or some other cause, those who are in bonds, strangers who are sojourning, and in a word he becomes the protector of all who are in need.”

    When did they make the love offering for media? 🙂

  28. So, the Didache, hard to take this seriously as applicable, ever…

    “8:1 Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays. You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.”

    As a record of history, sure. As a guide to faith and practice, nope.

  29. This has gotten a little offtrack. If we are talking about the gifts as listed in the passages cited, then discussing whether there is congregational reading or prayer is not the issue. That would be a different discussion about involvement, unrelated to spiritual gifts.

    Right now there are people from this fellowship exercising their gifts in service to our church….here on Monday morning.

    And the sanctuary doors are closed as they do so…

  30. “7. Why are the signs of the times always negative?”

    The “signs of the times” as you contrast to the advancements in technology, health and such isa good thought. Humanity always (ok almost always) uses these advancements for the same evil self centered filling intentions and has done so from the beginning.

    What can it be compared to? The TV show ‘Star Trek The Next Generation’ had on board their ship something that was known as the holo-deck. This was a placed used to recreate, simulate and solve the ship’s issues in a life-like and safe environment. The first time I saw this I said to my wife, “no-way! Men would turn this into porn simulation and become addicted to it.” Sure enough the next version of the show has a space station with a whole deck of holo-simulation for that very purpose. They actually cam up with a disease for those who were addicted to holo-deck simulations.

    Internet?

    Maybe it’s we people who are the “signs of the times.”

  31. Michael,
    I think you make 2 errors in your #6 – or at least unnecessary assumptions
    1.) “when was the last time your spiritual gifting was recognized and used in the assembly?”
    If my pastor is gifted to teach / preach then my gifting must be Listen / Learn and apply.

    2.) “in the assembly” – what gifting could I have in the assembly?? The assembly is to equip me to use my gifts outside of the assemble, in order to better serve my neighbor

    Now we did have our 5th and 6th graders from the day school sing at the services yesterday – so they go to use their gifts.

    I was the elder for the day yesterday and got to arrive early to open the parking lot gates and turn on the building lights … does that count as using my gifts in the assembly?

  32. This looks to me as if there is much more going on than teaching and listening…

    “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
    (Romans 12:3–8 ESV)

    “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
    For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
    For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
    The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
    (1 Corinthians 12:4–26 ESV)

  33. “I was the elder for the day yesterday and got to arrive early to open the parking lot gates and turn on the building lights … does that count as using my gifts in the assembly?”

    Yep…

  34. G – re your #28.

    “8:1 Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays. You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.”

    In this context, I think the writer of the Didache is using the term of hypocrites to refer to the Jews. Rather than fast on the same days as them, he’s just telling his readers to fast on a different day. What’s the issue?

    My fav passage is still 11 – “Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there’s a need. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet”. Kind of reminds me of Monty Python – “He’s RIGHT OUT!”

  35. I think a whole lot more people have the gift of helps than have the gift of teaching. In a church service sure you will observe just a few people using their gifts but they are enabled to use their particular gift because of all the people who worked behind the scenes using their gift of helps. And a big part of loving one’s neighbor involves the gift of helps. A lot of people want to teach when God has actually gifted them to bake the communion bread or weed their neighbor’s garden.

  36. yep, nothing like early christian anti-semitism 😉

  37. The Orthodox Church still observes the Wed / Fri fasts.

  38. “Neo, “We don’t live in the first century, nor in the Middle East. We live in the here and now and the world is different than it was in the first century. Just as it was different in the first century from the tenth century, BC. ””

    We may be more technologically advance, but other than this, how is the “world” different than it’s ever been.

    For there is nothing new under the sun, as it is written. Just asking, not debating.

  39. Then there’s Hebrews 10:25. Is the purpose of the assembly to encourage one another, or are we to encourage one another to not forsake the assembly?

  40. Jim,

    I need to speak with you offline…when you have time.

  41. I didn’t go to church this past Sunday morning, mostly because a well known politician was scheduled to speak.

    Last night I dropped my son off at Awana and went to go read my book in the church library. While there a couple of other guys came in to do the same – we smiled and nodded to each other.

    Near the end, my stomach gurgled – I had to apologize(I was hungry!). We then started talking about the mornings services, how crowded they were. I asked what the politico talked about and we discussed that and the issues around having someone else with another agenda in the pulpit.

    Bottom line – I didn’t mean to use my gift of teaching, but the way the conversation went – It got used.

  42. “yep, nothing like early christian anti-semitism ”

    Yep, and the it is, the all purpose anti semitism charge.

  43. Guess they should have just remained Jews?!?

  44. As far as being recognized for using one’s gift, probably the less obvious and unobtrusive we go about our business, the better.

  45. Does G not realize that in the early years of Christianity it was the Jews who were the aggressors?

  46. xenia – # 45.

    Apparently not.

    “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.” – Suetonius refers to the expulsion of Jews by Claudius

  47. I have always been of the following personal opinion — and I could be all wet, after all it is just an opinion. I believe that one reason people attend mega churches, and I mean churches with over a thousand participants and even more, is the relative anonymity of the people in the seats.

    There are so many there that few actually know each other. There are so many there that the search for volunteers to help with various church activities typically find enough helping hands. In fact, only a select few get to participate directly in most of the church activities. And, perhaps most important, there is little accountability amongst the members of the congregation.

    Galatians six tells us to “bear one another’s burdens.” That is only possible if we know one another. As the saying goes, “we get lost in the crowd.”

    Not a blanket statement that this is true of everyone attending, or even a rebuke of mega churches, but just a sense I get when I visit such large churches.

    On the other hand, they usually have a great musical program and good sound systems. 🙂

  48. I really think the point of the Body of Christ (and the gifts that God gives us for our place in that Body) involves our lives in the world and not just when we gather to worship God.

    One problem today it seems is that many people assume everything to be done by and through the local church, rather than Christian ministering to neighbor in the Name of Jesus, for His glory, as He guides and enables.

    We’ve got people who go to the park and feed the homeless during the week. It is not really some formal church ministry per se, and it definitely is not connected to the Sunday assembly…but it certainly is the Body of Christ, in action, as gifted.

    And while I am not a cessationist by any means, I do think we need to adjust our thoughts about the worship service in Corinth (or anywhere else) in the mid 1st century with the fact that we have a complete, finalized canon of Scripture to proclaim today.

  49. Okay, I guess this thread is a good time for me to set this before you all what it is that I have been contemplating for a quite awhile. In some aspect–years. Would appreciate some dialogue on the term, “grace.”

    I asking this as we hear so much and use this term, yet at times it seems to be a filler that could be better understood if when used, it would be defined or clarified.

    For instance:

    God’s grace — is this an attribute that He possess or is something tangible that He hands out.

    Grace given to me—-how is this manifested in terms of what?

    By God’s grace—-is this due his attribute, therefore, something else happens? Or its it that He has this huge bucket fill will this substance called grace and according to His will , we get a portion of it to do x, y. z—what is the x. y. and or z?

    Grace—not getting what we do deserve: again is this due to his attribute or is it something to be viewed as a ticket, not so much as His character.

    We are told that By faith through grace are we saved.

    I know the pat answers to this. What I am seeking to explore is to understand: is it due to an attribute of God, like saying that God is omniscience or, is it, to say that He provided Jesus as the means to be reconciled to Him, because of this attribute that He possesses, and in possessing this attribute, He then set up a way for us to be saved.

    Same thing with faith: Is having faith something that is active in terms of it being manifested in our lives other than just saying, I believe or is it just a statement baring no evidence of such. Is it alive, active, in evidence or is it more like a thing and dormant, a thought or idea that is a concept or principle, but is not something that would give evidence of such belief through ones actions or behaviors.

    His grace sustains me———by what means in concrete terms.

  50. As to the movie, American Sniper. For those not facebook friends with me to have already seen it, I thought this simple review from my friend, a current pastor and former Navy Seal, was very good.

    http://sealpastor.blogspot.com/2015/01/movie-review-american-sniper.html

  51. God’s grace is his continual forgiveness of our sin.
    It is delivered to us in and through his word and sacraments.

  52. Actually, we are saved by his grace through faith

  53. #7- ‘Why are the signs of the times always negative,’ you ask. Maybe that’s because whenever Jesus or Paul or John spoke of them, those passages and warnings were extremely negative. It was only the pillow-prophets who prophesied nice things when the hand of God’s judgment was about to fall.

    “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” – Jesus

    “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers… Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”- Paul

    “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” — John

  54. I like Jerry Bridges definition…

    “Now let’s return to my proposed definition of grace: God’s favor through Christ to people who deserve His wrath. By His grace, we do not receive the wrath we deserve. Instead we receive the favor we don’t deserve. Why is this true? The answer is found in the two words: through Christ. It is because of Christ’s death in our place that we do not experience the wrath of God which we so richly deserve. Jesus satisfied God’s justice and turned away God’s wrath from us by bearing it Himself on our behalf. Now God can extend mercy to us without subverting His justice. Mercy and justice meet together at the cross.

    Jesus did more, however, than satisfy God’s justice and turn aside His wrath. By His perfect obedience, He earned for us all of God’s favor, all of His blessings. He did it all. He perfectly obeyed all the law of God, and He did it in our place. Just as He died in our place, so He also obeyed in our place. That is why those two words “through Christ” are so critical to the definition of grace. Without Christ’s work for us, there could be no grace.

    We also need to realize that God’s favor to us through Christ is bountiful. God receives us into His family as His sons and daughters and opens up the storehouse of His boundless riches to us. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ and promised to meet all our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 4:19). He invites us to come with confidence to His Throne of Grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).”

  55. One other thought:

    If grace is an attribute/character God then He would act on that attribute/character to provide to us something that enable us to do something as well.

    In the same vein, but concerning faith: Is the faith that we have something that is apart from us, like an object or is it and is it “I believe” an active living organism that is part of our character that grows and grows, thus bearing evidence of that belief.

    For instance, if I say that chair is meant to enable me to sit upon it, but I never go and sit down upon it–then what evidence is there in the strength or veracity of my belief.

    Another example: if my husband tells me that he has faith in me, because he knows of the love I have towards him and will have his back, no matter what he does or does not do in terms of our relationship and the relationship he has with other places, people, and things, but in truth, because he disrespects me and our relationship, I set sanctions upon him, then is this faith that he has been misplaced or distorted. But then I forgive him and he continues in his way as before, due to the faith he has in believing it really doesn’t matter what he does, because my faith have proved out that she will get upset with me for a minute but will forgive me in the “end.”

  56. Sorry_ last sentence should read:

    “because of the person the grace and love that I possessed have proved out that she will get upset with me for a minute but will forgive me in the “end.”

  57. Linda,

    By it’s very nature, grace is not dependent on the behavior of the recipient.
    It’s dependent on Christ’s behavior and His obedience.

    Faith is given as a sovereign act of God…those who are regenerated are given it as a gift and grace accompanies it.

    The regenerate person is always in a “state of grace” because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to them.

    The believer who sins doesn’t fall from grace…they are disciplined by the Father and given the gift of repentance…by grace through faith.

  58. To a Lutheran – and I know we hold the odd man out position, faith is given to us by God so we can receive his grace. Faith is not something that comes out of us.

    Alex likes to tease about my example of prosthetic arms but that is the exact analogy. God has a gift of grace to give to us, but we have no means to receive it.

    “God, I cannot receive your gift, I have no arms and hands”. So from heaven, God tosses down 2 prosthetic arms. “But God, I have no way to receive your gift of the arms – I can’t put them on myself … as I have no arms”. So God not only supplies the arms, but he now puts them on you and places his gift in those arms you received.

    So, God not only gives you the means to receive his gift (faith), he does all the work to make sure that they arrive properly to you. No muss, no fuss on your part.

  59. J.U.,

    I concur… 🙂

  60. What I am asking is “grace” an attribute/character trait of God.

    Next question: so if I cheat on my husband, kick my dog, slap my children into the next world, kill a couple of people along the way, be it physically or psychologically, the lie to cover it up, while also cheating on the one that I’m cheating with, drink until I am soused, get behind the wheel, run over a couple a people in the cross walk, and then come before the Lord, and say that I’m sorry, please forgive me, but then get up and continue committing adultery, cheating on my taxes, but help my neighbor out while paying those that works for me a meager wage while I live quite comfortably and then off on a couple of mission trips, pay tithes, take communion, but then get a little too drunk again and become cantankerous, sarcastic and biting towards others, while speaking God’s Word, are you saying that it does matter, because He died and its all paid by the blood. Yet I never ever really repent and turn away from I was doing prior to confessing Him to be Christ, Jesus? Does this person have the Holy Spirit with in them?

  61. Correction, should read:

    are you saying that it does (not) matter,

  62. Thank you, MLD.

    In clarifying the Lutheran position by stating:

    “To a Lutheran – and I know we hold the odd man out position, faith is given to us by God so we can receive his grace. Faith is not something that comes out of us.”

    Then does this mean that a person will be held to an account or should they need to be responsible for their thoughts and actions that are not in the Lord. Right? If this is so, then when scripture tells us that we are to be born again of the Spirit, thus having our hearts changed to then walk in obedience to that which pleases the Lord, Lutheran don’t believe that a transformation takes place as a result of being born again in Him?

    Is it just a matter of taking communion and you free to go again until you come back the next time to take communion again?

  63. MLD

    should read: “Then does this mean that a person will (not) be held to an account

  64. Linda,
    Have you stopped sinning? If not, would I be out of line to ask “Doesn’t Linda have the Holy Spirit?”

    What you described is basically what we do daily – or perhaps not murder, but hey what did Jesus say?

    But to answer your question – does it matter? Yes, Jesus died in order to forgive my daily sin. Wouldn’t it be terrible to not sin any longer? … and not need Jesus?

  65. Linda,
    “should read: “Then does this mean that a person will (not) be held to an account”

    Haven’t we already been held in account for our sin? Didn’t Jesus step up and pay our debt?

  66. “Lutheran don’t believe that a transformation takes place as a result of being born again in Him?”

    Yes, whereas before i was 100% sinner – today by the saving grace of Jesus Christ I am now 100% justified and 100% sinner. How is that for transformation 🙂

  67. Since I attend a megachurch, here are some of my observations. There are some people who attend who are wholeheartedly committed to serving the church and the people of the church. They regularly use their gifts (including those beyond teaching and leading worship) on Sunday morning and throughout the week. On the other hand, there are those who attend because they think and act like American consumers. They come because they can hear a preacher they like to hear speak, partake in well-done worship music that suits their tastes, and fellowship with those they like and are like. It’s totally up to them if they choose to serve in any capacity because the church will never know the difference if they serve or not. And they don’t have to worry much about accountability or discipline outside of their own personal convictions because the church may barely even know who they are and whatever mechanisms are in place to hold people to account are often ineffective.

    For those who I describe in the latter group, I would think percentage wise a large majority attend megachurches as opposed to small churches.

  68. Well…personal anecdote offered for what it is worth…

    I got saved without any church, “found” CCCM almost immediately, after about two months discovered a little more about the Calvary movement, that there were many churches in the area, and one in my own town (I was driving about 35-40 minutes to Costa Mesa).

    So the wife and I started going to that much smaller church (though still a decent size), met the pastor, wanted to start to help over time etc.

    Problem was that within about 6-8 weeks it was painfully clear that the pastor was not up for the job – I knew more of the word than it seemed like he did (from his messages) having only been reading the Bible about a year and being saved a few months. There was also an immaturity, needy aspect to the man that struck my wife and I as odd.

    So back to the mega church we went…and stayed..and where eventually I trained, served, and was ordained.

    Final note – a few years ago I read about that other pastor resigning from ministry due to adultery. (sigh).

    God guides His sheep to where He wants us to be. I do not have the slightest doubt that God stirred us up out of that smaller church and back to CCCM where He took us in the first place.

  69. Hmmm-very interesting.

    Sort of thought this was what was being shared.

    So in light of Romans 6-8, I supposed you would not view chapter 7 as Paul developing a progression in his thesis that outlines mans fall towards his redemption and the evidence baring witness to that redemption. But, would view chapter 7 as Paul bearing witness to being a sinner that was constantly doing battle between the flesh and spirit: the things that I would, I do not as the old man desires the flesh (paraphrase). Not thinking that he was speaking in terms of the struggle a person goes through until he is born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit, thus his mind and heart also being changed from those thoughts, attitude, habits and behaviors that were fed the flesh. So here, Paul is saying, woe are we: but then opens up Chapter 8. What I am hearing is that some believe that people are not responsible as human beings because of their sinful state or nature. On the hand there are others who saying—no, this is incorrect, for if one is born again, they take on a new nature and become a new creation where all sins of the past are forgiven and are now empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk in obedience, thus baring witness to that transformation as it takes place.

    Paul then entering into chapter 8 declaring that as one in the faith and who walks in obedience, one can overcome sin, walk in the spirit baring evidence of such and for those who do not are not of the Lord. Chapter 6 also tells us this. It is a choice and we are no longer in bondage to the flesh or to sin, but if we happen to sin (not habitually) we do have a mediator and the blood of Christ that we can access when we confess and repent from this.

    Will continue to give this consideration. Thanks.

    Appreciate the patience and responses.

  70. “What I am hearing is that some believe that people are not responsible as human beings because of their sinful state or nature.”

    Nope.

    Human beings are still responsible for their actions.
    The punishment for our sins,( if we are in Him) has been paid.

    God disciplines His adopted children when they get out of line…and because it is hard to discern that discipline from the outside, we negate it’s importance in the sanctification of believers.

    I believe Romans 7 is the cry of the believer who longs to do right, but doesn’t always do so.

  71. MLD

    Interesting question: “Have you stopped sinning? If not, would I be out of line to ask “Doesn’t Linda have the Holy Spirit?”

    It’s not an issue of perfection, I don’t think Paul teaches this. It is an issue of taking responsibility for the ungodly things that one does and putting them away as Paul states, while walking in that which is of the Lord. As one does this, they sin less and less, or less frequently. No where in the Bible does it tell us that a person sins on a daily basis, but rather as a Christian they avoid sin at all costs.

  72. Michael #70

    MLD—what or how Michael phrase this is more plausible than what you have shared in the Lutheran position on this. No offense, just saying, that what you are saying just doesn’t ring true at all to me in what I see in scripture.

    Is this why you describe yourself as the “outsider?”

  73. “God disciplines His adopted children when they get out of line…and because it is hard to discern that discipline from the outside, we negate it’s importance in the sanctification of believers.”

    Yes, Hebrews teaches the reader this, but it is the Holy Spirit that opens up our understanding or enables us to understand the depth of what this means.

  74. Linda, do you repeat sins? or if you repent, you never go back and do it again?

    I beg to differ with you. Jesus, speaking in The Sermon on the Mount, to believers, to disciples tells them if they are depending on themselves at all – this would even include their own repentance then yes the standard is perfection. “Be perfect as my father in heaven is perfect.”

    “Is this why you describe yourself as the “outsider?”
    Well my position is an outsider to those of you who believe you muster up your own faith. I know that is a popular position in American to tell people “if you had enough faith” or “do this and you will increase your faith.”

    Yes, I am an outsider.

  75. Jesus both compliments and rebukes people for their faith (or lack thereof). He rewards people according to their faith too. The personal possessive pronoun is used repeatedly of faith as to the believer.

    I have never understood some of the views on faith expressed here, given all the Scripture out there on the subject. But I’ve given up trying 🙂

  76. Steve,
    So are you saying faith is self generated? Provide enough information and people will act on their faith?

  77. MLD

    “Linda, do you repeat sins? or if you repent, you never go back and do it again?”

    ” When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a (wo)man [going on to the more mature things], I put away childish things.”

    I understand this is out of context, but will use it as a means to provide a response to your question:

    As a young Christian, I would stumble and fall, but as I did what Michael stated about God chastising his children, I grew rather quickly, being a quick study as a result of the consequences put into place within my own conscience and how it impacted my world and those I cared deeply about. Walking in the Lord now since 1978 as a born again, Christian, sin does not rule over my life as it once did. What more, most of the time when I have sinned and repented, I don’t return to it. Now it might pop up in some other way, but then after coming to term with it and understanding what the core issue that is driving it (being humbled and with a heart of repentance), then that is set permanently to rest as well. As I learned why I did the things that I did or tolerated the things that I did or joined with others concerning those things that were dishonoring to God, I simply put them to rest. At the same time, I do not take credit for this as it was the work that God was doing within me to see what I needed to see in order that my thoughts and the attitude of my heart would be changed from what position that it was that kept me blind from this sin or gave me excuse to sin, but then responded to this and asked for forgiveness, thus not having to repent from it or be at risk of being tempted by those circumstances that would trigger it. My character/heart/mind being transformed.

  78. Linda, you are too wordy. Let’s make it simple – in today’s life, in 2014 did you repeat any sins. This is a simple yes or no.

    I admit I have.

  79. I think some people lack an understanding in the scope of our sin. We are talking about thought, word and deeds and we are talking about the sin we do and the good we fail to do.

  80. “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
    (Romans 12:3 ESV)

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”
    (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)

    “I need not torment myself with the fear that my faith may fail; as grace led me to faith in the first place, so grace will keep me believing to the end. Faith, both in its origin and continuance, is a gift of grace (Phil 1:29).”
    ― J.I. Packer, Knowing God

  81. At the same time, I do not take credit for this as it was the work that God was doing within me to see what I needed to see in order that my thoughts and the attitude of my heart would be changed from what position that it was that kept me blind from this sin or gave me excuse to sin, but then responded to this and asked for forgiveness, thus having to repent from it in whole and no longer be at risk of being tempted by those circumstances that would trigger it.

    My character/heart/mind continued to be transformed as I chose to walk in obedience, then when those times came forth that would test and try me, what I used to do, I no longer did, but stood firm not willing to be compromise or to compromise what I knew He had taught me in His Word. And in this, He has become not just my Savior, but my Lord as well. Not a taskmaster, but one who deeply loves and cares about me and others.

  82. MLD,

    Your #79 is gold.

    That hasn’t happened in a while… 🙂

  83. I agree whole heartedly,

    MLD,

    Your #79 is gold.

    That hasn’t happened in a while… 🙂

  84. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. That is not self-generated but God-generated.

    However, it is incomprehensible for Jesus, Who knows all things, to literally rebuke people for their lack of faith, and to commend people for their great faith – if God is solely responsible (emphasis on solely) for the rebuked people’s lack of faith and the commended people’s exercise of faith.

    Of course..this would lead, as it should, to a discussion of the various contexts in which faith is used in Scripture, and how each and every verse that one side or the other points to as proof of a larger position must be analyzed from the specific context (type) of faith under discussion.

    Which is dissertation level of discourse, and beyond the realm of blogging comments (at least for me 🙂 )

  85. Michael, I think this is one area that you and I agree all the way.

    As to my gold, after almost 9 yrs here, I think i used it all the first 5. 😉

  86. Because people can mishandle the faith given them, does not make it any bit the less totally from God. It’s like the guy who buried his master’s gold talent, he was given everything he needed from the Master and misused it – so yes, he gets condemnation.

  87. MLD,

    Keep digging, you proved there’s still some gold left… 🙂

    I do think you and I are of one mind on this…

  88. If I say no, then that does not mean I won’t sin in the next 5 minutes, or perhaps sin tomorrow, and if I say yes, then does not prove that I must sin tomorrow.

    I am no longer under the dominion of sin for I do not serve the flesh, but rather as I persist in picking up my own cross, my walk grows stronger and stronger. Less of me and more of Him.

    Romans 6

    KJV Romans Chapter 8 (Different from ESV translation)
    Emphasis on Verse 1, 4, 5, and 12.

    1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

    3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

    4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

    6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

    7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

    8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

    9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

    11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

    12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

  89. Linda, I am sure you are a better person than me. You seem to have this sin stuff down to a minimum. So let’s role play. We are kids going to bed and it is time to say our prayers. After 30 min I finally fall asleep in the middle of confessing my list of sins for the day. Are you saying that some nights you go to bed and have no sins to confess?

  90. MLD said, “I think some people lack an understanding in the scope of our sin. We are talking about thought, word and deeds and we are talking about the sin we do and the good we fail to do.”

    I said, “amen”.

  91. Re: #3- Titus 2:11,12 lines up perfectly with this.

  92. I already said faith comes from God and is not self-generated. If you want to agree with me, MLD, and use the “mishandle” idea – then that is fine with me. At the end of the day, you still have us responsible to some extent for faith.

    I need to find the verse about “mishandling the faith” though…maybe it is in the Greek 😉

  93. Steve, Faith comes by hearing God’s word. So what about the guy sitting in your church who hears you preach God’s word? Are you saying he didn’t receive any faith from God through the word? … like God’s word is ineffective? – or did he hear, receive and let it just drift away?

    I will help you find it – there are parables that speak of those who receive God’s word and mishandle what they have received and let the cares of the world snatch it away.

    Hey, i am quicker than you using a concordance. 🙂

  94. Michael, have question on your number 3.

    “Biblical grace is always offered with an expectation of obedience when accepted.”

    Isn’t the expectation already there with the law? Grace doesn’t change that other than it helps you cope with the expectation better.

  95. That “Sniper” movie is in reality propaganda to fuel the military industrial complex machinery.

    And unsuspecting Christians are buying into it in mindless Lemming like droves.

    Video on the military industrial complex:

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/new-american-century/

    The American Deification of the Military:

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/12/07/joining-military-doesn-make-you-hero/AtnLFFGkkVvxX2gKXKJE7L/story.html?event=event25#comments

    7 heinous lies “American Sniper” is telling America:

    http://www.salon.com/2015/01/23/7_enormous_lies_american_sniper_is_telling_america_partner/

    And if you have read down this far:

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/killing_ragheads_for_jesus_20150125

    Why Christians are not smarter:
    http://townhall.com/columnists/andrewtallman/2008/01/08/why_arent_christians_smarter

  96. Michael @57…exactly! I am so grateful for God’s grace, but know He will discipline me when needed.

  97. PS–would appreciate prayers for a friend on the prayer thread. Thanks!

  98. Andrew,

    As I read the N.T. obedience is no longer to please God or earn salvation but it is the only rational response to give after understanding the grace that’s been given.

    If you are in Christ, God will never be displeased with you or more pleased with you because of behavior.

    He is pleased with His son, thus He is pleased with you.

    The motivation is different…

  99. Thank you, Linnea… 🙂

  100. #51 It is delivered to us in and through his word and sacraments.

    If we are unable to receive sacraments, would we still receive God’s grace?
    Would the Word be enough?

  101. I appreciate your thoughts on grace, Michael. For obvious reasons you and I both know… 😉

  102. Ryan,

    I hear you… 🙂

  103. (Michael: Just an unrelated interesting article of FYI about having an income from the net.)

  104. ?
    “Would the Word be enough?”
    I don’t know what enough is … but I guess so.

    If your bank was giving away $100 bills at 4 different locations, would 1 location be enough, or would you want to go everywhere you could receive grace ($100 bills) from your bank?

  105. 1. Can’t wait to see it. My wife and I will see it soon. I agree with your observation…the US still has a significant population of politically and socially conservative folks…folks who are generally pretty nice and easy to push around and very apathetic and unmotivated when it comes to politics…but beware waking the Sleeping Giant…

    2, 3 & 4 are a result of the inconsistency, competing narratives and duality of the bible. Hard to hang your hat on the text…it isn’t logical or reasonable. You’d think it was written by a bunch of different authors with different opinions at different times in Hebrew and then Christina history rather than by one writer with one consistent direction…

    5. Yup, a very human characteristic. Hold on, I’ve got to go tweet this and then comment about it on Facebook…

    6. Paul had his way of doing church, Jesus had his way. Jesus’s way of doing church vs. Pauls’ way is far different than than contrasting Paul with today’s evangelicals.

    7. Agreed. The biggest argument against the “End Times” angle is that their Macro-Premise is that the World is going to hell in a hand basket and that the World is growing worse and worse…which is heavily contradicted by the facts as you compare today’s World to any other period in Human History. In general, humans have never lived better (despite the fact there are still problems, which there always will be).

    8. “Who do you say that I am?” Answer: You are Jesus, the Christ, the “son” of the Living God!

    Well…Mormons and others believe Jesus is literally the son of God the Father…and it is rather bizarre that Trinitarians would cast a Justin Martyr and other pre-Trinitarians into hell b/c they believe that Jesus was truly “begotten” by God the Father and that Jesus is truly “God the Father’s son”…instead of the 300 plus years after the fact Trinity Concept that leaned heavily on Plato and Plonitus and their works…so much so that the Church Fathers would have to footnote Plato and Plonitus today or be accused of Plagiarism.

    9. SNL nailed Deflategate. If you haven’t seen, it’s hilarious…and probably the closest thing to the truth.

    10. LOL

  106. From St. Justin Martyr’s First Apology:

    “We will prove that we worship him reasonably; for we have learned that he is the Son of the true God himself, that he holds a second place, and the Spirit of prophecy a third.”—First Apology 13:5–6

    It doesn’t matter that St. Justin appears to be ranking the members of the Trinity because all Christians agree that the Son and the Spirit proceed or are begotten of the Father.

    Tertullian, who is credited with coining the word “Trinity” lived from 155 – 230 which places him well within the first 3 centuries of Christian history.

  107. 1. I saw the movie and it, it was a troubling movie
    2. I consider expecting or even needing grace an unreasonable expectation.
    3. We will have to agree to disagree Biblical grace is based almost wholly on terror and fear of retribution and retaliation. I mean no offense but this is how I have experienced it in my real world life and in my mind and heart.

    4. I dont look to balance or tension I look to pragmatism and utilitarianism in the moment.

    5. “fads” generate income and revenue, enough said.
    7. Fear does one thing it generates revenue, that is always good.
    8. My answer I think Jesus is the Son of God who gave His life for me, and even if He willed it from eternity past, my take, I cant be part of that family because I am not good enough. That is one thing I did learn, in spades, when I was in the industry.
    10. I have come to admire cats having lived with one after my mother died, this cat laid on her bed for days, I had to feed her there because the cat would not leave. You could see the cat look around and wonder where my mom was and yes the cat, at times would meow. I know cats, dogs, and most humans do have souls, or at least that is what I have learned as a Christian in some circles, not all, but cats do grieve. Another animal I have come to admire is wolves, not the hucksters that plague the church but actual wolves. They are a noble creature.

  108. #63

    “which pleases the Lord”

    meaning = obedience, godly, to do right, to align one’s mind, body, soul, and strength with that which is pure, holy, and righteous.

    I don’t feel as though anyone has answered my question in that I wanted to know:

    1) Is “grace” something that is passed on to another person or is it an attribute or character trait of God.

    2) When grace is being phrase as, “we receive God’s grace.” Without using the word grace and “unmerited favor,” then are we to understand that this is something not a part of His makeup or personality, but rather something that is an by product of who He is?

    3) If a person has faith in something, what evidence would there be to reflect this?

    4) If a person has the Holy Spirit within them, then what might be the proof that this person had received the Holy Spirit? What proof would there be that a person is not born again and do not have the Holy Spirit with them. Would this be evident of either believing or not believing/faith or no faith.

    5) Or is “faith” passive or active in the life of a believer? Assuming that they are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and are born again.

    I, too believe that people really don’t understand the depth and breadth of sin and that sin includes our thoughts, attitude, and behaviors.

    Romans Chapter 12 (KJV)

    1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

    2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    Romans Chapter 12:2 ESV

    “And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”

    1. God does not ask or tell or commands us to do or to not to do anything that we are not capable of doing as He has sent the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk not in the flesh, but in and by the Holy Spirit.

    2. Works of the flesh and works of the Spirit look alike but one is done upon one own efforts and the other is done as a result of being born again and being filled with Him..

    Good outline done on what pleases God:

    http://www.dianedew.com/pleasgod.htm

  109. __________________________________________

    MLD

    Was thinking about what you asked, posing a the scenario of the two of us being kinds getting ready pray just before going to sleep:

    One thing I have observed about people. That is, they tend to believe that what is true about them must hold true for others in what manner of attitude, thoughts, or behavior that they engage in. For instance:

    1) People who curse hang around with other people who curse and think it odd when one person comes along and do not. They would inwardly be envious or jealous or chalk it up and that person thinking they were better than those who did curse (projection).

    2. People who drink alcohol and get a DUI find it surprising that a large portion of the population do not drink or drug.

    3) People who habitually sin, think it is impossible not to sin.

    4) People who lust find it impossible not to lust, yet there are many full blooded and sexually healthy persons who do not lust.

    5) People tend to believe that one sin is the same as another. So it doesn’t matter what they do or how many times that they do sin, as long as they “believe” that there is no penalty or consequences for mocking God and making light of SIN.

    6) People will sin then seek out to balance that sin with “good works,” rather than to denounce and overcome the sin.

    7) People who lie, cheat or steal tend to think all people either think about doing or does do these things as well. People who do not think of doing these things are at wonder why those that do believe that all people do or at least think of doing but may be more self controlled.

    Proverbs Chapter 3

    1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

    5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

    _____________________________________________________

    Final Question:

    Is “Trust” synonymous with “Faith” and is either or both, or none active or passive and how does one know that the trust and or faith they have are active or a part of them as being now a child of God?

    Is it possible to be born again and not have one’s heart changed whereas, they continue to give evidence that they take sin so lightly or excuse it so readily to continue in it?

  110. Linda – just answer the question. Your long posts seem to be for the purpose of covering up an answer. It was a simple and honest question – do go some days and not have any sin to confess. You seem to indicate that such days do exist – why can’t you just say it?

  111. Now I am curious – perhaps it is as Linda says that I am a strange warped kind of guy. Does anyone else here go to sleep at night with no sin from that day to confess?

    No sins of thought, word or deed? No sin of commission or omission? Not even driving by the guy with the cardboard sign and not helping him, because you have judged his heart that he is only there to rip you off?

  112. MLD….I’m right there with you. I hear what you are saying.

  113. Yeah but MLD at the same time as your answer says, sin is not some nebulous thing it is a specific action (or non-action) and yes can be of thought, as well as word or deed.

    Thus, the whole “I sin every hour of every day” as I hear a lot of preachers declare is either A) also a misunderstanding of sin or B) bad theology or C) a sign that maybe the preacher needs to step down and get right

  114. Word, thought,deed. Everyday. Sadly, I still sin. Yet, more gladly, I am justified, and declared fully righteous by the Savior. Though my sin is great, my Savior is greater!

  115. I guess I could reclassify my sin to a non sin category. perhaps this is what some do.

    Currently I count as sin, if I am pulling out of a shopping center and approach a guy holding a cardboard sign asking for money – and I say “I’ll bet he is a scammer” and I drive by. Sin, because I have judged him and his motives.

    Now, if i just recalibrate the same scenario a bit, as as i drive by I say “I’ll bet he is a scammer – it sure is a good thing that I have the discernment to guard God’s money” and I drive by – No sin because I am now God’s man of the hour.

    So, is this the appropriate sin reduction program I should work on?

  116. Michael,

    “As I read the N.T. obedience is no longer to please God or earn salvation but it is the only rational response to give after understanding the grace that’s been given.

    If you are in Christ, God will never be displeased with you or more pleased with you because of behavior.

    He is pleased with His son, thus He is pleased with you.

    The motivation is different…”

    How is this different than what many with whom you’re criticizing are saying? I’ve never heard Tullian, or any of the people you’re denigrating (as simply looking to acquire FB followers, which is ironic btw) downplay obedience or take the power out of the law. In fact just the opposite. I know you love Steve Brown (so do I)…what’s different about what he teaches, and has taught for years, from Tullian and others, who are just taking Luther out of context?

  117. Ryan,

    What I see far too often is grace divorced from it’s ancillary doctrines (the place of the law, obedience, union with Christ, etc.) and dealt with as a stand alone sound (or text) bite that draws applause but actually deforms the doctrine.

    The same thing happened when eschatology was the rage…it was divorced from any understanding of the kingdom and thus became a smaller caricature of the true biblical doctrine.

    I loathe theology by Facebook and loathe theology by blog just a little less…it leads to reductionist thinking that shrinks the whole counsel of God.

    The great grace books such as Romans and Ephesians both follow the great good news with what a proper response to that news is…we’re majoring on the news and ignoring the expected response thus, we end up with a misshapen doctrine all around.

    The name of the column is “Things I Think”…your thinking and mileage may vary…

  118. No MLD @116 – that is not what I am talking about at all.

    If the simple act of reading this blog is a sin to you, then you should stop doing so, and forsake the blog.

    However, if simply reading the blog is not a sin, then you are in fact not sinning during the time interval you are doing so.

    1000 examples like this could be cited. Driving your grandchildren to school (assuming you don’t view any homeless guys with signs (and by the way, you could always choose to give the money if you think not giving is a sin)) – is that a sin in God’s eyes? No? Then you don’t sin in doing that.

    Reading the Bible? Going to church. Buying the bagel from your neighbor (the MLD specialty) and on and on….

    Sin is lawlessness, per the Scripture. It is a choice we make, and though we can sin in mind nonetheless temptation is not sin.

    We actually trivialize sin and its nastiness in the Christian community when we are so blase about it…as if it is just is another part of breathing…

  119. The word “therefore” often serves as a beautiful bridge between Paul’s teaching about the receiving of grace and his exhortations to live in obedience in that same grace.

  120. Steve, I wasn’t addressing your comment – I was continuing my theme against Linda’s comments 🙂

    However, i guess I could take a leap from your A) also a misunderstanding of sin

  121. Steve, just for clarity – the guy with the sign, – in your view is it a sin to judge the guy a scammer and just keep trucking along?

  122. MLD,

    I think we have a very similar view of sin…must be those Reformation roots.

  123. Mld – Let’s say you give your all your money to a scammer on the highway, and then aren’t able to help a family member who is truly in need. That would seem to be the greater sin to me.

  124. This is Bucers liturgy…which I love and speaks to this issue somewhat.
    I’m actually just posting it because I do love it….

    Public Confession of Sins

    Make confession to God the Lord, and let everyone acknowledge with me his sin and iniquity:

    Almighty, eternal God and Father, we confess and acknowledge unto You that we were conceived in unrighteousness and are full of sin and transgression in all our life. We do not fully believe Your Word nor follow Your holy commandments. Remember Your goodness, we beseech You, and for Your Names sake be gracious unto us, and forgive us our iniquity which, alas, is great Amen.

    Public Absolution of Sins

    This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15)

    Let everyone, with St. Paul, truly acknowledge this in his heart and believe in Christ. Thus, in His name, I proclaim unto you the forgiveness of all your sins, and declare you to be loosed of them on earth, that you be loosed of them also in heaven, in eternity. Amen.

    Psalm

    Prayer for Illumination

    The Lord be with you.

    Let us pray:

    Almighty, gracious Father, forasmuch as our whole salvation depends upon our true understanding of Your holy Word, grant to all of us that our hearts, being freed from worldly affairs, may hear and apprehend Your holy Word with all diligence and faith, that we may rightly understand Your gracious will, cherish it, and live by it with all earnestness, to Your praise and honor; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Psalm

    Scripture Lesson

    Sermon

    Singing of the Apostles Creed

    Pastoral Prayer

    The Lord be with you.

    Let us pray:

    Almighty, merciful God and Father, You who has promised us through Your Son that whatsoever we ask of You in His name You will grant unto us, and has commanded us through Your Spirit to pray for those in authority and for all men: We do heartily beseech You through Jesus Christ, Your most-beloved Son our Savior, to enlighten with the knowledge of Your Gospel the hearts of our lord Emperor and King, all princes and nobles, and the magistrates and ruling body of this city, that they and all those in power may acknowledge You as their sovereign and true Lord, serve You with fear and trembling, and rule over us, who are the work of Your hand and the sheep of Your pasture, according to Your will and good pleasure.

    Grant that all men everywhere may come to the knowledge of the truth. Especially to this congregation, being assembled in Your name, send forth Your Holy Spirit, the Master and Teacher, who may write Your law upon our hearts, take away our blindness, and lead us to recognize our sin, which otherwise, alas, is death, and its baseness and shame is concealed. Make it vivid to us, O Lord, and enlighten our eyes that we may see the truth and recognize indeed that there is nothing in us except mere sin, death, hell and the deserved wrath of God. So, may we hunger and thirst after the rich well-spring of Your goodness and grace, and gratefully accept the same which You have delivered to us through Your only-begotten Son, who, having become like unto men and us poor sinners, suffered and died and rose from the dead, in order that He may save us from sin, death, and hell, and bring us to the resurrection and our inheritance of the Kingdom of God.

    And grant us, O Lord and Father, that with true faith we may keep this Supper of Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus, as He has ordained it, so that we truly receive and enjoy the true communion of His body and blood, of our Savior Himself, who is the only saving bread of heaven. In this holy sacrament, He wishes to offer and give Himself so that He may live in us, and we in Him, being members of His body and serving You fruitfully in every way to the common edification of Your Church, being set free from every passion of our evil, corrupted flesh, from all anger, vexation, envy, hatred, selfishness, lewdness, unchastity, and what more there may be of the damned work of the flesh: to the end that, by all means, we as Your obedient children may ever lift up our hearts and souls unto You in true childlike trust, and always call upon You, saying as our only Master and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, has taught us:

    Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

    Instruction on the Holy Supper

    The first: that, since the Lord now wishes to communicate His body and blood to us, we should reflect upon the fact that our body and blood which means, our whole nature are corrupted to all evil and thus to eternal death, so that they of themselves may nevermore share in the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15).

    The second: that to deliver us from such corruption, the eternal Word of God became flesh, so that there might be a holy flesh and blood: this is to say, a truly divine man, through whom the flesh and blood of us all would be restored and sanctified. And this happens as we truly eat and drink of His body and blood.

    The third: that the Lord truly offers and gives His holy and sanctifying body and blood to us in the Holy Supper, with the visible things of bread and wine, through the ministry of the Church, as His holy Word declares: Take and eat, this is My body which is given for you; drink all of it, this is My blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sin. And we must accept this Word of the Lord with simple faith, and doubt not that He, the Lord Himself, is in the midst of us through the external ministry of the Church which He Himself has ordained for that purpose. Such does He proclaim to us with His own words: that the bread which we break may truly be, even for us, the communion of His body, and the cup with which we give thanks, the communion of His blood (1 Cor. 10). But we must always diligently consider why the Lord thus imparts to us His holy, sanctifying communion in the holy sacrament: namely, that He may ever more live in us, and that we may be one body in Him, our Head, even as we all partake here of one bread (1 Cor. 10).

    The fourth: that in this action, we keep the Lords memorial and feast with true devotion and thankfulness, so that we always laud and praise Him in all our words and deeds, yea with our whole life, for all His benefits: for His Incarnation and bitter death whereby He has paid for our sin; for this blessed communion of His body and blood; that is, for Himself entire, who is true God and man, through whom alone we obtain the true and blessed life both here and in eternity.

    The Words of Institution

    For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. (1 Cor. 11:23-25)

    Believe in the Lord, and give eternal praise and thanks unto Him!

    Distribution of the Elements

    Remember, believe and proclaim that Christ the Lord has died for you.

    Psalm

    Prayer of Thanksgiving

    The Lord be with you.

    Let us pray:

    Grant unto us, O heavenly Father, that the remembrance of our redemption may never leave our hearts, but that we may walk in Christ, the Light of the world, far removed from our foolish reason and blind wills, which are vain and injurious darkness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Almighty God, heavenly Father, we give You eternal praise and thanks that You have been so gracious unto us poor sinners, having drawn us to Your Son our Lord Jesus, whom You have delivered to death for us and given to be our nourishment and our dwelling unto eternal life. Grant that we may never relinquish these things from our hearts, but ever grow and increase in faith to You, which, through love, is effective of all good works. And so may our whole life be devoted to Your praise and the edification of our neighbor; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

    Benediction

    The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance, and give you peace. Amen. (Num. 6:24-26)

    Committal

    Depart! The Spirit of the Lord go with you unto eternal life! Amen.

  125. This is my favorite prayer…and reflects the Reformation understanding of the doctrine of sin:

    I poor sinner confess to thee, O Almighty, eternal, merciful God and Father, that I have sinned in manifold ways against thee and thy commandments.

    I confess that I have not believed in thee, my one God and Father, but have put my faith and trust more in creatures than in thee, my God and Creator, because I have feared them more than thee. And for their benefit and pleasure, I have done and left undone many things in disobedience to thee and thy commandments.

    I confess that I have taken thy holy Name in vain, that I have often sworn falsely and lightly by the same, that I have not always professed it nor kept it holy as I ought; but even more, I have slandered it often and grossly with all my life, words and deeds.

    I confess that I have not kept thy Sabbath holy, that I have not heard thy holy Word with earnestness nor lived according to the same; moreover that I have not yielded myself fully to thy divine hand, nor rejoiced in thy work done in me and in others, but have often grumbled against it stoutly and have been impatient.

    I confess that I have not honored my father and mother, that I have been disobedient to all whom I justly own obedience, such as father and mother, my superiors, and all who have tried to guide and teach me faithfully.

    I confess that I have taken life: that I have offended my neighbor often and grossly by word and deed, caused him harm, grown angry over him, borne envy and hatred toward him, deprived him of his honor and the like.

    I confess that I have been unchaste. I acknowledge all my sins of the flesh and all the excess and extravagance of my whole life in eating, drinking, clothing and other things; my intemperance in seeing, hearing, speaking, etc., and in all my life; yea, even fornication, adultery and such.

    I confess that I have stolen. I acknowledge my greed. I admit that in the use of my worldly goods I have set myself against thee and thy holy laws. Greedily and against charity have I grasped them. And scarcely, if at all, have I given of them when the need of my neighbor required it.

    I confess that I have born false witness, that I have been untrue and unfaithful toward my neighbor. I have lied to him, I have told lies about him, and I have failed to defend his honor and reputation as my own.

    And finally I confess that I have coveted the possessions and spouses of others. I acknowledge in summary that my whole life is nothing else than sin and transgression of thy holy commandments and an inclination toward all evil.

    Wherefore I beseech thee, O heavenly Father, that, thou wouldst graciously forgive me these and all my sins. Keep and preserve me henceforth that I may walk only in thy way and live according to thy will; and all of this through Jesus Christ, thy dear Son, our Saviour. Amen.

  126. Josh – the question wasn’t about giving all your money. In fact the question was about judging someone else’s motives – you don’t know if the guy is a scammer, in fact on the surface all you know is he seems to be in need. Is that sin?

    But again, I think you, Linda and Steve are giving me pause. Perhaps I too do not sin very much and have only fooled myself into thinking I do. I will say, the 3 of you are great ego boosters – thanks, I don’t think Joel Osteen could have done a better job. 😉

    I am free!!

  127. Nope, you got prideful. Sinner.

  128. We sin constantly by omission and commission…and as the baser, more obvious sins are dealt with we begin then to understand the depths of our sin nature.
    I’ve never gone to bed not understanding that it’s only by the grace of God that I don’t wake up in hell…just for that days transgressions of the law.

  129. 4. Looking for “balance” in theology is a fools quest…there is no balance, there is “tension” and that tension is meant to be held and expected to remain unresolved…
    ————–
    all I got is for this one is… who gets to say what shouldn’t be attempted to be resolved? seems to me this kind of “leave it alone cause I say so” is a bit bullyish by those with a particular point of view against those who might, by reson, logic and scripture prove them wrong.. so let’s just ‘shut down’ anyone who might still be thinking and attempting an answer for fear of them finding an answer that we might not approve of.
    but that’s just my take. for what it’s worth (or not)
    -mike

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