Death of the Old Adam, Death of the Old Eve

Jesus said that if you would gain your life in this world… you must lose it.

Is there any dying going on in your church? Are people losing their lives on a regular basis?

It’s supposed to happen, you know.

St. Paul tells us that “the law brings death.”

 There is no life in it.    Life… the authentic, genuine life in Christ that the scriptures speak of, and that the Saints testify to, is found only through, and in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Back to death.

The new life in Christ Jesus can only come about as a result of the death of the old Adam/Eve. The old Man/Woman must be put to death and not coddled.

OK, I’ll buy that…but how?     We mentioned it earlier…God’s Law.

The law will do it’s job on us.   It will expose our sinfulness.   It will demand from us.    It will wear us down.     And it will kill us.

In many churches today, there is no dying.   

The old Adam/Eve are celebrated!   They are wined and dined on a diet of Christian progressivism.   They are not killed off but improved upon, made well, made better and better…striving to be like Jesus.

How is that dying?

The law needs to be wielded like the sword that it is.   It needs to be pointed directly at the heart of the old Adam and run clear through him.   All the old Adams and Eves need to die… and that is me and you and everyone else in the pews.

Does this need be a fire and brimstone type sermon with finger wagging and high energy emotions?    No.   Not really.   It can be…but it’s not necessary.

The law is so powerful, so intrusive into all of our lives, that it can just be as simple as pointing out how you are being had all week by your own sinfulness, the demands of work, of homelife, of city and nation, and the devil, who is real and who is after you.  The law does it’s work on you by making you realize how far short you have fallen from the standard that God uses for measuring our performance …and that is ‘perfection’.

“Your righteousness must EXCEED that of the Pharisees and scribes.”
       “You must be PERFECT as your Father in Heaven is PERFECT.”
                     ” SELL EVERYTHING you’ve got and follow me.”

That is the Law.    Jesus’ sermon on the mount wasn’t a lawnmower manual on ‘how to’  become a better Christian…it was a death sentence,  handed directly to you and executed right then and there.  He was trying to kill us!

He was trying to kill us off to the ‘God project’ which is “religion”!    Our efforts at making ourselves more presentable is not making us better…it’s making us worse!

We need to die.  And when we are sufficiently dead enough, to self and our little game of self justification,  then that pure sweet sound of forgiveness spoken from the cross and spoken over you at your baptism can go to work on you and in you,  and raise you up, and breathe new life into you and make you whole again.

It is the other side of that two-edged blade of law and gospel. The ‘life’ side.

It is Jesus’ declaration to you. In the words of the pastor, in the water and Word of baptism, in the bread and the wine of His supper…”You are forgiven!”

Death and resurrection. Repentance and forgiveness. A picture of baptism.

     All…for you!      Go now… and live!      You are free!       That’s the gospel!

_________________________________________________________________

All of that came as a result of a death.

Is there any dying going on in your church?

Godly Dreams?

 In the Bible, God speakes to His people in dreams (Genesis 46:2) .

But, also in the Bible God tells us not to not trust in what is seen and heard in our dreams, but rather in His Word. (Jeremiah 23: 25-28 )

So what are we to make of it when we believe that God has shown us something in a dream?

Could the visions, or small voices that come to us in the night, really be from God?

Are we to act on the basis of what we see in those dreams?

For example;  a young Christian woman has a dream where she moves to Uganda to set up a missionary outpost and also works with orphaned giraffes. Should she sell the studebaker and wing her way to Kampala? 

You keep having the same dream over and over where you are worshipping at a little Baptist church in a small town in Vermont.  You are quite happy there, and become the world’s seventh (notice the number 7?) largest distributor of maple chips. You have this dream at least once a week. Is it God? Could it be God?

Are these only manifestations of your unconscious mind, solely concoctions of events and images burned into your immagination, only to reappear in a dream?

Could these nightly visions be from the devil?

Have you ever acted upon the basis of something that came to you in a dream?

How did it turn out?

A new kind of ‘church’?

This seems to be the kind of “church” that the culture values these days.

link  to the videoMark Driscoll

What do you think?  Is this church?  Is this the wave of the future?

What do you say to them?

What do you say to someone who tells you that they don’t believe in God?

They tell you that they want to believe in God, but it’s just not the re. They tell you that they have gone to church, several different types of churches, but nothing happened.

They look at you, and obviously see something of faith in you, by what you’ve told them or by the different way that you comport yourself, and they would like to have it (faith) themselves.

But they have given up on the idea that faith can come to them.

What do you say to someone like that?

Suprising answer from my Mom

My wife and I were out to dinner last evening with my Mom to celebrate her 74th birthday. If she read this blog it would be the 64th.

We had a very nice dinner and a nice time discussing all matter of topics, mostly family related. My Mom is not a religious person and hasn’t been in church, other than for weddings or funerals, for over 40 years. She and my Father (now with the Lord) were raised as Roman Catholics but really didn’t attend church regularly when they were young.

Anyway, we got onto the topic of baptism in discussing my cousin’s daughter, who just had a baby girl about a month ago. We were talking about where the baby might be baptised since the dad is a Lutheran and the mom is a Roman Catholic. We also mentioned another family member who is always proud to announce, when the subject comes up (every blue moon), that he has not been baptised and will not be, and that his kids weren’t going to be baptised if he had anything to do with it, either.

We discussed how an attitude like that is akin to spitting in God’s face and what a terrible thing that was for the children to be denied baptism.

So I figured I would take the opportunity to teach my Mom something about baptism and maybe get a good word or two in for Jesus.

I turned to my Mom and asked, “Do you know what baptism means, Mom?”

She said, without hesitation, “God makes you His child.” I wasn’t expecting that answer. I didn’t think that she had any idea what baptism was. I was quiet for a moment, stunned I guess, then I said, “that’s absolutely right, Mom…that’s exactly what it is.”

I always pray for my Mom and the other members of my family who do not as yet express too much interest in the things of God. But I have to say, I’m not as worried about my Mom as I used to be. I’m not worried at all. I believe that God adopted my Mom in her baptism, 74 years ago.

I will remind her, when I can, of the great things that God has done for her in her baptism… and she will remind me as well.

I know there are some that visit here, that do not view baptism in the same way that I do, or in the same way that the majority of the world’s Christians do…. and that’s ok. There was a time when I didn’t think a whole lot of it myself. But I have learned that God does the baptising in a baptism, and that Jesus commanded that we be baptised. I have since learned that God does not command us to do anything where He will not actually be present in it. Even though I have learned all this fairly recently, it is still good to be reminded of it as often as possible …even by those whom you would least expect.

Which will do what?

” He must increase, I must decrease.”

  Well, that’s what John the Baptist said.  Do you beSt John the Baptist by Fidelity Masonic Supplieslieve it? Does this only apply to John the Baptist, or to each of us as well?

 If we buy into that statement, then what can bring this about?

 In preaching and teaching what would be more apt to bring about an increase in Christ Jesus and a decrease in Joe and Mary in the pew?

Preaching that puts our performance in the fore? Preaching that uses God law to try and make us better?  Preaching a sort of Christian progressivism?

Or, preaching and teaching that uses God’s law to put the striver in us to death? Preaching God’s law the way that Jesus preached God’s law…full force…not watered down, so that the law will chop us off at the knees so that no one will be left standing after the sermon other than the One who died for us.

I spoke of this kind of hard law preaching to an Evangelical friend of mine at work last week and he looked at me with a very puzzled look and then said, “you shouldn’t be so hard on yourselves.”

Should we be so hard on ourselves? Or ought we make it easier for the sinner in us to improve?

Can one cut themselves off from a relationship with God?

Every great once in awhile there is a story in the newspapers, or on television news of a person going to court, after he or she becomes of age,  to legally sever the relationship with their adopted parents. 

Is something like this possible for us to do with God, our adoptive Father?

Or are we held captive in his family so that it is impossible to ever be seperated from Him?

Jesus said that He had not lost any that the Father had given Him. How does that play into the discussion of  “once saved, always saved“?

Can we just up and walk away from God…never to return…or be brought back?

The ‘fruit’ of the “fruit inspectors”

I’ve been working on the NAMM (International Association of Music Merchants) trade show in Anaheim, CA for about a week now. I work this one show a year and I have a good time, for the most part, and I mMike the Fruit Inspector  ake a few dollars, which never hurts.  I also get to see a lot of old friends and (ex)co-workers.

Last evening  I’m talking to a couple of guys about Jesus and I quote Luther,  remember, I said, ” the good you do won’t save you, and the evil you do won’t condemn you.”

“Well, that’s not true”, says one of the guys, who is an Evangelical Christian. So I said, “well, I sure hope it is true… and you ought to have the same hope.”

Then he launched into “fake Christianity and “walking the walk”, etc.                           I asked him if someone were to follow him around for one week, taking notes on all he did, if  that person would consider him to be a Christian. Of course he answered yes and didn’t even hesitate.

This is what happens when you get preachers preaching right out of the bible, line by line, without doing theology, without placing the cross of Christ in the center of the biblical narrative.

You get little Pharisees. Not so cute, ‘I’m better than you are, because I accepted Jesus’  and ‘I’m getting “better” all the time’ and you aren’t even trying ‘, little Pharisees. All snuggled in to their self-righteousness, little Pharisees.

I reminded him that Jesus told us not to judge anyone’s salvation, to which he told me that “that is not true” and he will “bring me many bible passages to prove his point.”

I’m sure he will.

What about it?   Is there such a thing as Christians that are not really Christians and they are easy to spot because thet are not walking the walk?

Perceptions

I have friends that tell me that they don’t like the church that I go to because it is too “religious”.

It does not suprise me in the least that they would be 
lieve that.

They see a church building that actually looks like it is set apart for something of ‘the other’. It appears, in some respects, ‘other worldly’.

There is an altar, stained glass windows, church pews with kneelers,hymnals, candles, vestments on the pastor, a bulletin with a  liturgy, a pulpit, a pipe organ, a cross (they don’t think that is too bad). It looks, in many respects, Roman Catholic.

They have been taught that Roman Catholic is bad. Usually, where they worship, many, if not all of the things mentioned above have been replaced by an auditorium, with folding chairs, band instruments, Polo or Hawaiian shirts, big screens and stage lighting. The sermon has been replaced with a ‘how to’ class in Christian obedience.

While some of those modern methods aren’t necessarily bad, in and of themselves,  they can and often do tend to place the focus and emphasis of the message back onto ‘the self’. (which I believe fosters religiosity)

As Lutheran Christians, we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We recognize the importance of the symbolism in the things passed down to us from saints that have gone before us. As Lutheran Christians, we recognize that because of our Christian freedom, we do not have to keep any of those things. We want to. Meaningless symbols can just be expressions of religiosity. But when those symbols are tied to what God has done for us in Christ Jesus, they become life giving lines of hope that are anchored to our Lord Jesus. They help keep us in Him… and Him alone.

Often, what appears to be “religious” is not at all…and what appears to not be “religious”,  is really quite so.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am certain you will find very religious people in the congregation where I worship. And I believe that in the contemporary expressions of  Evangelicalism, you can certainly find faithful Christians that have no room for religiosity.

But for the most part, when the focus is upon the Word of God, the law and gospel and the administering of the sacraments, the direction of the congregation is away from the self and towards our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus…and the wonderful things that He has accomplished for us, is accomplishing for us, and will yet accomplish… for us.

You can’t tell a book by it’s cover…or can you?

Free Will or Bound Will?

“If you begin with the assumption of freedom, the preoccupation is always how to keep freedom in check, how to bind; But if you begin with the assumption of bondage, the preoccupation is always how to set out the word that frees.”

- Gerhard Forde. The Captivation of the Will. p.21

 

What say you?

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