Warning! (now I have been warned by a so-called “post Evangelical” )

Yes, that’s right…I have been warned by a so-called “post Evangelical”, to  “stop warning people.” That’s rich.

On this blog and some others, there has been much discussion of thBe careful of cautione law and what we ought do regarding it.  Well, just read my post before this one and you’ll know where I stand on the issue. I call for a return to Jesus Christ and His righteousness, alone.

But others, well, they want to hang onto the law. “Jesus said it… we must do it.”  That’s right. How are you doing?

“Yeah, I know I cant keep it perfectly, but I must try.” As if Jesus told us somewhere he only expected our best efforts. Wrong again, Mr. Religious Project Man, your best efforts don’t count for didly squat. Plus they are all tainted with your selfish religiosity anyway. 

I haven’t warned anyone, that I can recall. I do use quotes from St. Paul, he tells people that if they want to be law keepers, to play the religious game, “…then they sever themselves from Christ.” Is that my warning? You got a beef with that one, take it up with Paul when you get there.

People love the religion game. A new book on ‘How To’ with respect to the Christian faith comes out every other day. These folks have got to read every single one of them lest they miss some great “spiritual” insight or some new tips on how to apply ‘biblical principles’.

Have you ever noticed that these folks just never seem to arrive. They’re always just one more book away, or maybe the next seminar will do it, or  Jimmy Bob Jenkins is coming to town, then I’ll finally have the rest, the peace, and the assurance Christ desires me to have.  Right.

God’s law is like an iron rod, straight and true. It’s not meant to be manipulated by selfish  idolators that want to fashion it into rings to place in the noses of people to lead them to and fro. It’s meant to be driven though the heart of the hearer, that he might die to himself. Then Christ and His gospel of forgiveness can raise that dead person to new life. Christ does this…for us, alone, by Himself, out of His grace and mercy. 

But Christ is just never enough, have you noticed?  It’s always Christ + with these people.

Well, Christ is enough for me, and lots of other folks too.

If people want to play church and decieve themselves into thinking that they are doing the things that God commands in His law…well, then that’s fine with me…have at it. But don’t get angry with me, because then you are going against what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount.

The house of cards built on the law is shaking for some. They and their religious projects have been exposed for the utter failures that they are…and they don’t like it. They don’t like it one bit.

Good.  That is how it should be.

In defense of Jesus Christ and His righteousness for us, alone.

     – Steve Martin

16 Responses

  1. ABSOLUTELY!
    The ‘good conduct’ God requires is ONLY found in Jesus Christ and HIS perfect righteousness – that is what is granted to us through God’s mercy and grace alone; that HE might be our righteousness, sanctification, etc.

    Thanks be to God that HE Justifies and redeems the ungodly!

  2. Howard,

    You have heard the gospel rightly.

    Thanks for the ‘spot on’ comment!

    – Steve

  3. Cool! I pray for warnings like that St Steven! Keep the heat turned up on our pietistic brothers and sisters. lex semper accusat

    God’s peace. †

    David

  4. David,

    Thank you Sir, for your encouragement and your steadfast defense of Christ our Lord.

    Your current post at ‘Five Pint Lutheran’ is absolutely wonderful as it puts Christ and His work back in the center and relegates the law to it’s proper status of accussor.

    Grace and Peace to you, my Friend!

    – Steve

  5. Hi Steve,
    I really dig your blog – I have mainly hung out in Reformed and RC blogs and had never really appreciated the law/gospel distinction unique to Lutheranism until I came across your discussions on some other Lutheran blogs – so I’m aware your views aren’t completely without controversy among your brethren 🙂 but your perspective is definitely interesting.
    Anyways, I know you don’t think we should use the law/commandments of the NT as a benchmark for ourselves that we are “meeting for our salvation”, but is one wrong to use the law as a guide for earning heavenly reward (not salvation) in line with sanctification? “Well done good and faithful servant” and the parable of the unprofitable servant seem to indicate the commandments of the NT should serve as a guide in *some* capacity for the Christian. Is it wrong to use Law as guide if one is not equating obedience with legalism/earning salvation, but sincerely feels a duty and love to obey God and try to follow His will? (As I said, I really had no clue of the law/gospel distinction of Lutheranism till I hit your blog a few days ago so apologies if I am making elementary blunders).

  6. “But others, well, they want to hang onto the law. “Jesus said it… we must do it.” That’s right. How are you doing?”

    My struggle is with those who want to hang on to the Old Testament law too. “But it says in Leviticus……”

    “Oh please!”

  7. Steve,
    Also curious if you’ve heard of Paul Washer and his sermons (many are on youtube) and what you think of his preaching.

  8. John,

    I have heard the name, but am not familiar. I’ll try and view one of his sermons on youtube and then give you my two cents.

    – Steve M.

  9. Doorman-Priest,

    Yep. The religion game still goes strong after all of these years.

    Bible as lawbook. Lord help us!

    He’d better! He’s our only shot at this righteousness game. (and it’s no game).

    Thanks Doorman-Priest!

    – Steve M.

  10. John,

    Earning heavenly rewards. I guess it’s quite possible we could be rewarded for our good deeds. That language certainly is in the bible.

    But when we look at it in light of what God is after, it seems that it might be a tad more difficult to accomplish, especially if getting a reward is our motivation.

    In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the righteous to enter into the Kingdom, He says that they did all these good things for Him and they say “when did we do that?”
    They were not conscious of their actions, there was no self-motivation, or ulterior motive…they just did it because it was needed.

    In Matthew 7:23, the workers of iniquity say, “Lord, Lord, we did such and such in your name, and He said , “Depart from me I never knew you.”

    When the business of rewards for ‘deeds done’ is preached, it’s on peoples minds that if they ‘do’, then they will ‘get’. I don’t think that is the way to get people more Christ focused, but rather more ‘me’ focused.

    For what it’s worth, John, that’s my take. ( I’d better be right or I’m in deep doo-doo! )

    – Steve

  11. Steve,
    Cool – any thoughts on my first post? Peter tells us to examine ourselves and we’re told to bear fruit, so is it wrong for a Christian to use the NT law as a guide in trying to follow God’s will (while always of course remembering we are unprofitable servants)? I’ve seen some pastors write on their blogs during Easter or Christmas to compare yourself with yourself last year – have you become more Christ-like in your thoughts and deeds or are you keeping your talents buried – sanctification is a lifelong progression right, so it seems in some sense we have to measure ourselves to the Law in some regard in order to examine ourselves.

  12. Oops – posted before I saw your reply.

  13. John,

    I listened to a couple of Paul Washer’s sermons on youtube.

    While is hard to find out everything about someon’e theology in two sermons, you can get a pretty good idea of where they place value.

    I think he (Washer) had a good understanding of the doctrine of election (as well a good Calvinist ought), but I found that he was very focused on the obedience of the believer. The performance of the beleiver. The holiness of the believer.

    His theology seemed to be a ‘ladder theology’, of progression in the faith.

    He showed a lack of understanding of the sacraments, as someone with a doctrine of ‘righteousness prgression’ would.

    His type of preaching (I beleive) might rightly be classified as Law/Gospel/Law.

    It put the onus back on ‘you’ and your performance.

    Anyway, that’s my take.

    – Steve M.

  14. Steve,

    That is my take as well.

  15. Hi Steve,
    Yes he does seem to emphasize law/obedience to a great degree, to try to shock complacent or nominal Christians. But is it really that wrong to preach in such a manner – as I said before in my post, doesn’t Peter tell us to examine ourselves and isn’t sanctification supposed to be a lifelong progression in which we are bearing fruit (and a lack of fruit should worry us)? I’m not sure how you can do that without taking into account “performance” to some degree and hence using the law as a guide to some extent. Now I would agree if that’s all he preached about, with little to no gospel, there might be problems, but what is wrong about preaching on holiness/sanctification (even if it may take up an entire sermon occasionally) as long as one remembers they are unprofitable servants who have no right to boast of their acts/fruit.

  16. John,

    There are certainly bible passages that exhort us to good works. And there are scriptures that tell us that “all our righteous deeds are as fithy rags, and that we are saved by grace through faith, not of works lest anyone should boast.”

    So, what to do? Work at it…or not?

    There was much debate in the early days of the Church and there is much debate now.

    The scriptures tell us some important things about ourselves. That we are spiritually dead until God grabs a hold of us, that our motives are tainted by sin, that no one seeks for God, etc.

    So if there are to be any good works wrought from us they are going to come as the Spirit of God works in and through us and not because we are somehow growing in the faith. In this respect the scriptures speak of gifts and not growth.

    I believe the whole issue is one of focus. If the preacher is exhorting you to good works to prove that you are really a Christian, then you will do them or attempt to do them, but you will have a selfish motive. And when you do them, you will naturally have pride. Many won’t be able to do them, but will not want to look like real sinners, so they will turn into phonies…just playing the game. And then you will have those that just give up the whole project and abandon the church completely.

    Anyone at all could approach a pastor that preaches in this fashion and say, “well…what about you? When are you going to start behaving like a real Christian? Jesus said “whoever does not give up everything he owns cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33) Well Pastor? When are you going to do it? You want to be a disciple of Christ, don’t you?”
    You see what I mean? Where does it end?

    Well, I believe it ends, just where it started…with Christ.

    He is enough for me. When His gospel is preached in it’s purity (no strings attached), and where His sacraments are offered freely…He is there.

    My pastor actually does a much better job than I of explaining this stuff. I’ll be putting up some more audio of him teaching some of his classes. If you have a chance to listen to him I think it might make some of this a little clearer for you.

    Anyway, John, I appreciate the chance to discuss some of these great issues of the faith with you.

    Your Friend in Christ,

    Steve

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