Living by Faith, or by Deeds, or a little of Both

 When it comes right down to the nuts and bolts of having a relationship with the living God, what do most people do? Do they trust in God completely? Do they trust in God and also in their ability to do what God asks of them, or is it maybe a little bit of both, or a lot of one and God and Automobilesa little of the other?

Are some of the ways in which we endeavor to live with God tougher on us than others?

Personally, I think the toughest route is living by faith, alone.  I think that trusting that God will be there for me, and forgive me, and provide for me, is just about impossible to do all of the time.  It always seems easiest for me if I take the teamwork approach and rely on God once in awhile and rely on my own efforts most of the time.

Is there a right way and a wrong way to approach our relationship with the living God?

How do you handle it?


‘To Live with Christ’ a devotional book by Bo Giertz, translated by Bror Erikson

Our friend Bror Erickson has just finished a translation of a devotional book by Bo Giertz, the late Swedish pastor and bishop and author of the great book, ‘The Hammer of God’.

Giertz was voted the most influential church leader of the 20th Century by the readers of Kyrkans Tidnings, the official weekly newspaper of the Church of Sweden.

 To learn more,  go to ‘Utah Lutheran’ in the blogroll on the lower right hand side of this page. That will take you directly to Bror Erickson’s site.

                              To order the book, click on the book…>

Let us know what you think of the book!


Baptism, and ‘free will”…

Here is a class/bible study that I’ve edited (just to shorten it a bit) , but still left the gist of the class in tact.

It’s about 40 minutes, but is long enough to ruffle a few feathers and maywho's in chargebe open some eyes.

No doubt there will be detractors…and that is quite alright.

Listen in to Pastor Mark Anderson as he starts us off with some general descriptions of the sacramental view, the symbolic view, and the Lutheran view of baptism, along with a critique of ‘free will’ theology.

  click on baptism, ‘free will’, and other good stuff 

   If you enjoy it…pass it along. Thanks!

Forde on the so-called “Third use of the Law”

(Taken from a comment on this blog by Pastor Mark Anderson) 

 Here is what Forde has to say about the third use…like it or not.

“That is why the law must be limited to its two proper uses. Although the argument is more subtle and complicated that we can do justice to now, one should be able to see why it is perilous to accommodate Luther’s view with a so-called “third use of the law” as a friendly guide for the reborn Christian. There is no way yet into a state where the Christian can use the law in a third way. Such a view rests on presumptions entirely different from those of Luther and, for that matter, Paul. It makes too many pious assumptions. It assumes, apparently, that the law can really be domesticated so it can be used by us like a friendly pet. Does the law actually work that way? It assumes that we are the users of the law. We do not use the law. The Spirit does. And we really have no control over it. Who knows when it is going to rise up and attack in all its fury? Luther knew full well, of course, that in spite of all his piety he could not bring the law to heel. Indeed, even as a Christian one needs to hear and heed the law – and the law will attack a Christian just as it attacks the non-Christian. One does not have the key to some third use.
We do not live in an eschatological vestibule. Christians need the law in the same way non-Christians do. The idea of a third use assumes the law story simply continues after grace. Grace is just a blip, an episode, on the basic continuum of the law. Luther’s contention is that the law story is subordinate to the Jesus story. The law is for Luther, as it was for Paul, an episode in a larger, not vice versa. It is only grace that can bring the law to heel.”

Gerhard Forde

A More Radical Gospel: Essays on Eschatology, Authority, Atonement, and Ecumenism

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

Should’s, Ought’s, and Must’s…and the the ever present…’Need To’s’

Addendum to post:  While driving back from San Diego this morning ( I took my wife to the airport)  I was listening to a very well known preacher on the radio who used the phrase, “If only…”, quite often in his sermon.

So I’m adding it to my list of words to watch out for. Example:If only you would receive the Lord Jesus.”

When you hear these words in a sermon…watch out.

When you hear these words directed towards you and your relationship with the Living God…you’ve just been had.

We ‘should’…we ‘must’…we ‘ought’…we ‘need to’. All law words. All words that have no gospel in them. All words designed to get some sort of performance out of you, or us.

Is there a place for these words? Of course there is. These words are a part of our daily lives. We must hear them and do them and strive to do them for the sake of ourselves and those around us.

But as far as a relationship with God goes, these words are poison. They bring death, and not life.

The words that bring life are these…”I love you, I forgive you, I have died for you.”

“For you”.  “This is my body, given for you. This is my blood shed for you.” These words indicate something that has already happened. Is still happening… and will yet happen….for you.

The word of the law is ‘do’. The word of the gospel is ‘done’.

Be on the lookout for the ‘do’ words in a sermon and then ask, but have not all these things been ‘done’…for me?

Overbearing Christians

You know the type.

Always ready with an outward act of piety to show others just how serious thCrazy born-again Christianey are about God. Always ready to ‘talk someome into’ becoming a Christian with irrefutable evidence.  Always ready to beat someone over the head using the Bible as a bludgeon. Always ready to make you feel inferior. Always ready to scare someone into heaven with the threat of hell. Always ready with the list of do’s and dont’s. Always ready to look down on people, so that they might be looked up to.

Know anybody like this?   I do.   Me.  

 Yes, I guess there have been times when I have engaged in all of the above. And now I often wonder just how much damage I did to the would-be believer. I wonder just how far my zealous efforts went towards hardening the hearts of those I was pressuring. I wonder how much different it might have been if I had just looked for an opportunity, in a time of pain for that person, to tell them that I know how they feel, that I too experience those hurts and sadnesses in my life. But that there is one who came to heal this pain for them, and that He loves them and died for them. And just leave it at that.

No carefully crafted pitches or speeches. No pie charts or graphs to size up the credits and debits of a relationship with Christ. No coaxing them into making some decision that might only leave them with a false sense of security.  Just a simple word of promise to a person in need.

And then later, a prayer that the Lord will use my poor words to accomplish His purposes in the life of that person and by His mercy and grace He might grab a hold of that heart and make it His own.

                 – Steve Martin

The Law, equal in stature to God’s Grace?

I have heard from a few people lately, that feel that God’s law somehow is equal in importance to God’s grace and mercy.

To that I say… balderdash!  Ridiculous!  Nonsense!  Wrong! Libra scales

Am I saying that God’s Law is not important? No I am not. God’s Law is important. But it is not as important as His mercy and grace.

Look, when God gave the tablets with the Ten Commandments on them to Moses, did He give it to Moses personally? No he didn’t. He said, “hey you, messenger boy…come here! Grab these tablets and take them down to Moses, I’ve got things to do.”

When He gave the promise of grace and mercy to Abraham did God use a messenger boy? No He didn’t. God gave the promise to Abraham Himself, personally.

St. Paul called the law “our custodian”, or ‘tutor’, before Christ came. But when Christ came, the law was fullfilled.

Now, the law is still in effect. Christ told us that Himself. But the law has been fullfilled and it no longer has dominion over us. Romans 10:4,  “Christ is the end of the law for all those who have faith.”

Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free.” Do we really want this freedom that Christ has won for us? Or are we so afraid of it, that we hang on to a few links of the chain (that is the law), so that we can retain just a wee little bit of our righteousness? So we can say, “I’m doing my part. I’m not like…him.”

If you cast off all but one link of the chain, you are not really free. Either Christ has done everything for you…and I mean EVERYTHING…or He has done nothing.

Thanks for listening.

            – Steve Martin

Q.- What kind of Lights did Noah use on the Ark?

Ans. –  Flood lights, silly. 

Q.-      How many gallons of wine did Jesus make at the Cana wedding?The Ark on a Stormy Sea

Ans. Between 120 and 180 gallons ( “…6 stone jar holding between 20 to 30 gallons”   -John 2:6)

Q.-      Why do we fold our hands when we pray?

Ans.  The folding or putting the hands together represents the position the hands would be in if they were to bound, signifying being a ‘slave’ to the Lord.


Is becoming more Spiritual the goal?

Is the Christian life an adventure in Spirituality? Should it be? Or should we leave the things of the Spirit up to God and concentrate on being human?  4 Minutes After Daylight [on her way]

Give a listen to ‘ becoming-more-spiritual‘ a sermon by Pastor Mark. If you can’t spend the whole 20 minutes, the first 30 seconds is worth it for a good laugh.