1. Are you ready?

2. “Ready for what?”

3. “Ready for the Lord’s return!”

4. “Yes I am.”

5. “You don’t look like you are ready…your life is a mess!  You’d better clean up your act before the Lord returns or you just might not make it!”

6.  “____________________ “

( how would you fill in the response for line #6?)




32 Responses

  1. I know Jesus died for my sins. He is my source of strength and my mediator. In Christ, I am ready!

  2. In terms of this post its time to restate… IN with the new covenant and out with the old.

    One of the greatest Lutheran ideas we get from ML is the proper distinction between law and gospel. A distinction that many other denominations fall into the traps of either licensiousnee or legalism. The gospel is seen in the most astounding terms and looked upon in awe by angels. It is the power of God. The law according to Heb 7:18 is described as weak and useless. Dont get me wrong it had its purpose but there is no power in the law for Christian growth. At best it can coerce another person in “decent” behavior but they underlying heart condition is not changed.


  3. 1. Are you ready?

    2. “Ready for what?”

    3. “Ready for the Lord’s return!”

    4. “Yes I am.”

    5. “You don’t look like you are ready…your life is a mess! You’d better clean up your act before the Lord returns or you just might not make it!”

    6. “I know I am ready because I don’t see any good works whatsoever to hinder my sight of Christ alone.“

  4. I’d be tempted to quote Galatians 1:8. In love, of course. 😉

  5. 6. It is not of WORKS, lest anyone should boast.

    Abraham believed GOD, and it was accounted to him as – wait for it –
    R I G H T E O U S N E S S.

    The remedy is not my clean up program –
    it is HIS saving grace, bestowed in Jesus Christ.

    Thanks be to God, who SAVES us to the UTTERMOST!

  6. Howard you are cracking me up “…wait for it….”.

    Reminds me of Mel Gibson’s Brave Heart and that first battle scene with the long spears and the charging British calvary:

    Abraham believed GOD, and it was accounted to him as – “hold….HOld….HOOOOOLD! NOW!!!” – R I G H T E O U S N E S S!

    Kind of like when the religious lawyers calvary are charging


  7. There is nothing I can do or have ever done that gets me to heaven. Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe!!!

    “My ticket to heaven isn’t based on the strength of my commitment, but on the collapse of my resistance.”

    quote origin unknown to me, I heard it from my pastor.

  8. Cheek in tongue,

    R I G H T E O U S N E S S.

    If I could make my RIGHTEOUSNESS caps bigger than Howard then I would do it so my RIGHTEOUSNESS is bigger than his.

    Wait, its not My RIGHTEOUSNESS its A RIGHTEOUSNESS that is given to me through Christ.

    Darn, I always get it wrong!

  9. Wait, its not My RIGHTEOUSNESS its A RIGHTEOUSNESS that is given to me through Christ.

    Darn, I always get it wrong!

    Looks like you got it right that time!

  10. “You don’t look like you are ready…”
    Judge not by appearances but judge with right judgment. It is before my own Master that I stand or fall.

    Yet if it were the Lord Jesus standing before me, admonishing me, I would say….”Have mercy on me.”

    However, I am very aware that since I have been given the life of Christ, I have a responsibility to live my life in obedience to Him everyday. “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” This life of God has with it a joy and yet a stern admonition. Christ having taken on flesh in the Incarnation raised humanity so that we could be partakers of the Divine Life in Him. This is indeed a blessing, and yet a blessing that demands a response of gratitude so that we submit to being changed into His likeness. “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God.”

    Each day, each hour, and each moment we have that opportunity to give honor to our beloved Lord Jesus who bled and died for us. May we be ever watchful of the enemy who prowls around as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.

    In Christ’s Immeasurable Love,


  11. I am trying to figure out how this post is related to:

    Leaky boobs and other embarrassing mom moments in the possibly related posts category?

    Darlene, scripture does say that faith without works is dead. Scripture is pretty clear on that. Lutherans tend to have a lot of cliches around it. For example, My Lutheran Pastor used to say your saved by faith and faith alone but faith is never alone. I remember steve saying your sanctification is just getting used to your justification. On many levels I agree with both of those statements but in the end they are still cliches.

    Lutherans pride themselves, as do I, in finding their righteoussness in the right place… in Christ alone and what he did for us on the cross. I myself, believe the Gospel has many implications in how it plays out in a sinners heart and it will lead to works that are for Gods glory. The question always is what is the driving force or the “the power” for a Christian growth. Scripture is clear about “running a race” and we like to see it in human terms as Christian growth. This is probably where some Lutherans like to avoid language about running any race because they are acutely aware of works based righteoussness being what Martin Luther believed was “the default mode of the human heart” and I think he was spot on when he said that.

    It comes down to what we discussed in the last post… the Gospel is the power of God for all growth as a Christian and yes, scripturally, there is growth as we run the gospel race as it comes from God.

    Hebrews 12:
    4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
    “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
    6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”[a]

    Many Lutherans may have a tough time with what it means to struggle against your sin to the point of shedding their own blood, Maybe Steve can make that a future post for us to discuss. How does one do it without it becoming self righteoussness. It can only be done with a clear view of the cross and what Jesus did for us.

  12. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and Jesus’ purpose on the cross tell us …
    We are more sinful and weak than we ever cared to admit and…
    We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

    We will never hunger for Christs’ beauty until we have seen the filth of our own vain efforts to make ourselves beautiful.

    One of the differences between religion and Gospel thinking is:

    RELIGION says: I obey-therefore I’m accepted. THE GOSPEL says: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

    The gospel creates the only kind of grief over sin which is clean and which does not crush. It says: ‘Look at Jesus dying for you! He won’t leave you or abandon you–how then can you respond as you are? He suffered so you wouldn’t do this thing! You are not living as though you are loved! As his child! It is not because he will abandon you that you should be holy, but because this is the one who at inestimable cost to himself has said he won’t ever abandon you! How can you live in the very sin that he was ripped to pieces to deliver you from?’

  13. Thanks to all for your comments!

    I think I’d have to fill in the blank by responding, “I am ready, no thanks to me, but by all He has done for me.”


    I don’t think I have ever struggled against my sin to the point of shedding my own blood. I have never attempted to take my own life, although I may have had thoughts that I would be better off dead (at the time).

    I sure hope that His blood was enough.

    The scriptures do tell us, however, that the wages of sin is death (all of our blood)…and no one will escape that reality.

  14. Oh definitely His blood is enough but the author of hebrews was asking for a response by man to what Christ has done for us.

    here is the complete verse:

    4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
    “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
    6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”[a]

    7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

    The good news is the Victor was already established in Christ. Admittedly, this is a hard verse for me without me just saying “that cant be right” or minimizing the scripture in some way…. :-).

    • CoG,

      I think this might be helpful because this verse is not all that different than Christ’s encouragement to take up our own cross and follow him. Some points that Daniel Deutschlander makes in his wonderful book “The Theology of The Cross” on that later verse which applies to your Hebrews quote as well is first and foremost that Christ (in the later) is NOT appealing to the old man’s will but the new man’s will.

      That is critical to see and in order to understand that correctly one must grasp Luther’s simul Justus et peccator correctly and NOT as Reformed, Baptist or Evangelicalism has subsequently interpreted it. Christ’s appeal and the author of Hebrew’s appeal is first, foremost and only to the new man’s will. Because the old man’s will will simply put it into one of his “job jars” to do and it be an occasion, as you say, for self righteousness and works righteousness.

      One must understand that the theology of the Cross does indeed have to do with suffering FOR the Word of God, and that the old man can turn suffering and forms of the ToC into new and improved ToG’s and works righteousness. This is why, I think, Lutherans are always “freshening up” as it were the older language of good deeds – language is crucial and it is NOT sufficient to nod our heads in general agreement regarding good works that the Christian does in light of other ToG’s who steal that term for the old Adam’s “job jar”. Thus, we are COMMAND by Scripture to give testimony and that includes “spelling it out” even on such good works passages and such passages as “take up your cross” and this one in Hebrews. Unfortunately due to the wicked confusing web of conundrum that deception weaves, this often takes more than a simple “beer commercial” 30 second ad response or one or two liner. Thus, in light of this Dr. Nestigen well points out concerning suffering and “our crosses” that when change comes about, to in essence end that particular cross (whatever it is), it is actually incumbent upon us to do so – for to continue in suffering THEN becomes the occasion of the old Adam to now under the same suffering do works righteousness. So you see how we cannot just “simple simon” these issues for the old Adam and ToGs are always procuring such text for their “job jars”. James being one of the PRIMARY examples of this antichristic deception, so there’s a dynamic going on here to ferret this out constantly, and that in and of itself is a form of those of Christ suffering Cross for the Word, the Gospel. Men’s hearts are cheered and warmed by the Gospel, then Satan comes along, even by the alien work of God (e.g. Job) to insert these new “hath God really said”. He, the devil, doesn’t ask it that way every time so obviously lest we easily recognize it and not suffer our cross. Often it comes in an upside down flip of a verse that might even only imply that Christ is not nearly enough. It might come like this, “Yes, yes, grace alone I agree, but James says or the Gospels say…do good works, suffer your cross…etc…” with only the highly subtle never stated, never verbalized “you better be doing this or…I don’t know”. See there is the devil’s sly “hath God really said…you are baptized, his body his blood for you…Christ is utterly sufficient”. And THAT very occasion is suffering cross for a true suffering of a cross, ours, is to suffer FOR the Word of God. It is the temptation to relinquish the Cross (Christ’s) in exchange for despair or works righteousness which are two sides of the same coin at the end of the day. In fact this kind of foxy “hath God really said” may come at one such that if you point to them again Christ is sufficient END OF STORY – then they will retort a fresh kind of sly “hath God really said” that once again craftily insinuates itself in some form of an implied without spoken “yea BUT…”. It’s interesting to point out that in highly dynamic changing languages like African, American Indian and such that much of their ‘how words work’ and mean things in a sentence is tied NOT so much to their arrangement in the sentence or inflected endings (like Latin) but by vocal cues. I say that because often in “giving an answer for the hope that you have” and suffering for the Cross, your cross, has much more to do with defending against the devil’s silent insinuated word. Which we see MUCH on blog posts, there’s always that crypto-legalist pouring cold water on the Gospel often with an implied “BUT”. And there is a cross to be suffered for it cast doubt on the Word of God in the Gospel. It’s even more so when it appears that God is the enemy as Luther points out regarding Abraham or Job, they had NOTHING to cling to but the Gospel promise for even God appeared to be the enemy coming in wrath against them. This is why Christ says to the woman Whom he called a dog after she replied back that He had not found such GREAT faith in all of Israel!

      So such passages must be seen in the light of appealing ONLY to the will of the new man and as such they are NOT “if/then” passages which is the way the old man’s will reads them and then stuffs them in his “job jar”. Rather they are “because/therefore” ENCOURAGEMENTS, not imperative challenges. They are as Deutschlander points out the result of being a Christian and NOT the cause of. It would be like telling my children, “Now because you are my children and nothing can snatch you out of my hand not even your sins, this suffering is going to come upon you – be encouraged because it means you ARE mine and it is not a job to do in order to be mine”.

      For you see, all ToG ALWAYS turn the word of God upside down, this has been from day one of the fall. It is the signature of the fall and Satanic doctrine, even if it comes from the lips of a great theologian. ToC rights the praise, orthodoxy, and turns everything up right.

      Another point is that for a cross to be a true cross and true suffering, it must be laid upon you. You do not go seeking it and all such seeking is works righteousness EVEN under the guise of suffering and cross bearing (such as this very passage). In fact the first three temptations of the devil toward Christ did this, even the religious one (at the Temple) to leap off and let God catch Him – Jesus said THAT is tempting God. Luther makes a huge point of that religious temptation in his sermon on that very passage…very eye opening when tempted to “work in the church yard” to “prove” one’s faith to be real.

      Sometimes the BEST response to the open or subtle “do works” “BUT” people is a very simple, snappy and yes forceful, “Why don’t you shut the hell up and leave me alone to do the work God has called me to do in Christ in my everyday day to day vocations, and stop trying to violently rip me away from Christ and the true good works He has laid before me.” Sometimes, and Luther recognized this, the devil tempts us to outward good works that are really are not at all, again suffering for the Word, and the REAL good work and defense of the Cross is to do in that occasion is to go drink some beer, wine or whatever your pleasure is, go play and relax, go to bed. Yes, you see the devil is no simple simon general, he knows well how to get us to deny the Cross and often it is the opposite of what we think. Like Luther once said (paraphrased) when Luther began seeing and proclaiming the Gospel purely, “The Word of God dealt the Pope a great blow while Philip and I drank beer in (forgot the city).”

      Now to the old Adam and a theology of glory, THAT is utterly INCOMPREHENSIBLE to them. Why? It’s hidden under the paradox of the Cross, where God really is, and an article of faith ALONE – reason, nature, affections and such cannot see it or comprehend it or apprehend it – in fact it offends all of them most offensively and most polemically.



  15. Jon,

    Intersting verses.

    Maybe those guys in the Philipines who scourge themselves and then have themselves nailed to the cross…are on to something!

    Maybe it’s just saying that we won’t willingly shed our own blood for sin (pointing us to the One who would, and did)

  16. For more on works based righteoussness here is an mp3 from Arminian Greg Boyd called my life as a spiritual vampire: :-).

    [audio src="http://media.whchurch.org/2007/2007-07-08_Boyd_My-Life-as-a-Vampire.mp3" /]

  17. Jon,

    Mr. Boyd Calvinizes the Sacraments, also.

    He turns them around and makes them all about you, and your seriousness.

    Once I heard his take on eating and drinking of Jesus, I turned it off, because I realized at that point that the gospel was going away and all I was going to be left with was me.

    No thanks. The last thing I need is me and whatever I can muster up towards knowing Jesus better.

  18. Sometimes I just don’t “get” the Lutheran perspective. Belief should not be divorced from practice for practice shapes belief. For a Christian to say that they believe in Christ means that they TRUST Him, they LIVE for Him, they LOVE Him. There is a change in his/her heart and actions. We cannot just profess a faith with our lips and somehow get by. We cannot profess a certain “confession” whether it be Lutheran, the many Reformed, or the Creeds, and then live like the world and think Christ will approve of such behavior or look the other way.

    So the joy of the gospel is that this life we are given in Christ ACTUALLY enables us to live a godly life. It isn’t as though we are forgiven and then we continue on in sin, hiding under some idea that we are still no different than the world and just as ungodly except that Jesus forgives us. We don not hide under some blankent of snow while being filthy, wretched heathen with unchanged hearts. No, I do not subscribe to “Sin Boldly.” Rather that I would “Pray Boldly” or “Resist the Enemy of my Soul Boldly.”

    Father Stephen recently gave some words of wisdom (and better than I could) on his blog “Glory to God For All Things”:

    “But we need more than a change in our legal status – we need a change in our ontological status – that is we must be filled with nothing less that the life of God in order to be healed, forgiven, and made new. Jesus did not come to make bad men good. He came to make dead men live.

    Thus God came into our world, becoming one of us, so that by His sharing in our life, we might have a share in His life. In holy Baptism we are united to Him, and everything else He gives us in the Life of His Church is for the strengthening, nurturing, and renewing the Life within us. All of the sacraments have this as their focus. It is the primary purpose of prayer.

    Thus, stated simply, to have communion with God means to have a share in His Divine Life. He lives in me and I in Him. I come to know God even as I know myself. I come to love even as God loves because it is His love that dwells in me. I come to forgive as God forgives because it is His mercy that dwells within me.”

    The following are my words. We, as God’s children, work in cooperation with Him while He, as Lord and Savior, works within us. We cannot take Him out of the equation and we cannot take us out of it either. We are not static, uninvolved creatures in the mystery of salvation, but rather, we, by the free will God has given us, submit our wills freely to His. And He receives glory by this working within us, this working out of our salvation. And yet, I could not do such a thing prior to my regeneration for I did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide me and strengthen me for the task.


  19. Darlene, I’m not sure what you mean by “practice shapes belief.” But, I do agree that belief is not to be divorced from practice. “Sin boldly” does not imply that we are set free to sin. However, human effort to achieve holiness has no effect, except as Paul says, it destroys the Gospel.

    It is grace – the Holy Spirit working in us – that changes us and produces fruit. We don’t do good works to become better, we become better so that we do good works. That is the Lutheran perspective as I understand it. I think Luther would have agreed with Father Stephen.

    Anyone disagree?

  20. Darlene,

    Your words and Father Stephen’s words are good ones.

    I guess the Lutheran perspective is totally Christ focused for righteousness, and totally ‘us’ centered for the neighbor.

    God doesn’t need our good works but our neighbors do.

    So we are free in Christ to do them. And to the extent that we fail…we are forgiven.

    The law demands good works, but the Holy Spirit inspires them.

    Thanks, Darlene!

  21. Alden,

    I think you said it better than I.

  22. “I was ready the second I received Christ.”


    “How much do you think I have to do to be ready?”


    “Where does it say I have to work for my salvation?”


    “If you think that then maybe you aren’t ready!”

  23. “If you think that then maybe you aren’t ready!”

    Good one, Dorci!

    – Steve

  24. Believe and practice are completely intertwined and should be intertwined in Lutheran circles. I do see Darlenes point in how they seem to be separated however.

    I think it comes together in Romans 12;1 where it says Brothers, I encourage, IN VIEW OF GODS MERCY, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Man, inevitably, leaves behind any Mercy and grace narrative when they are attempting to be obedient.

    As some of you may know, part of the centerpiece for my proclamation of the Gospel is the parable of the Prodigal Son… a parable primarily being told to the pharisees or elder brother types.
    The story shows an irreligious, younger brother doing his own worldly thing and a religious, elder brother “hanging” at the fathers house. The younger brother comes back repentant and the Father throws a party. In the end the religious elder brother is the one who does not “get it”.

    As Pastor Mark once said… thats the problem with sin…. we don’t take it seriously enough. We see one side of the sin, the worldly side, but not “religious”, legalistic prideful sin.

    Lutherans need to continue to take sin seriously. When we do the mercy and grace given to us on the cross becomes a narrative that overflows outside of ourselves. The problem in ELCA Lutheranism today is they are NOT taking sin seriously enough as they take a no stance approach on saying homosexuality is a sin and a no questions asked approach to homosexual ordained ministers.

    Its almost like a physics equation in religion. I will call it the Physical low of religious equilibrium. When a religious side steps up and is starting to engage in a licensious to sin then a legallistic side steps to try to create harmony and balance the other side out. What they dont realize is both sides are in sin. We dont take our sin seriously enough.

    The Gospel, however, does not promote licensiousness and it does not promote legallism. Its not a halfway path between the two either. Its a third path all together.

    Its the path of doing everything in view of Gods Mercy on the Cross (romans 12:1).

  25. I just liked Boyds title my life as a Spiritual Vampire.

  26. I meant Physical LAW of religious equilibrium.

  27. Didn’t Jesus clean up the mess 2000 yrs ago?

  28. 1. Are you ready?

    2. “Ready for what?

    3. “Ready for the Lord’s return!”

    4. “Yes I am.”

    5. “You don’t look like you are ready…your life is a mess! You’d better clean up your act before the Lord returns or you just might not make it!”

    6. It’s not about us, or what we do or don’t do. It’s about what Christ Jesus did for us 2000 years ago on the cross †. Besides, Jesus came for the sick, the messes—all the world.

  29. p.s. I do believe we have to worry more about those who look ready! 😉

  30. ” Besides, Jesus came for the sick, the messes—all the world.”

    Amen, Magdalene!

  31. Bino,

    Yes He did.

    And He is still cleaning it up.

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