Almost impossible

That’s how it seems to me, lately.  When pigs fly by WayneWho?

Not just on this blog, but on many others that I visit.

That people will just not accept that God acts for us, before we want anything at all to do with Him.

They will not accept the idea that God could really be present in what HE COMMANDS us to do in His Holy Name. They refuse to let God be God, and they war against the grace of God because it is not rational and because it excludes any action, feeling, or anything else… on their part.

This is what happens when people refuse to give up the ‘religious project’.

They think that we are the ones being overly ‘religious’! They have it exactly backwards.

It is almost impossible to show them that in throwing out the Sacraments and relegating them to mere symbols (in contradiction to Scripture), they are inserting themselves into the equation. This puts them on the fast track to being ‘religious’…no matter if the pastor wears Hawaiian shirts and flip flops or if he/she is in a thousand dollar suit.

Inserting ourselves into the equation is what got us into this entire mess to begin with. You would think that people would get a clue and finally figure out that maybe this is the reason that God commanded us to Baptize, and to eat His body and drink His blood. To take, and keep the project out of our hands.

But then again… it is almost impossible to make them see that.




 PS- Getting me to believe it (in Him) was (is) probably a whole lot harder for God than it would be for Him to get pigs to fly.




25 Responses

  1. St Stephen,

    Yes it is hard to convince people who are dead set against the Real Presence or that Baptism indeed saves. It is a rampant error throughout Christianity where we place our reason in charge of understanding scripture. This is the reversal of how it is to be. I have seen some movement in some people but it is a slow process to say the least. It is a total mindset change to put reason or logic in a servant role.

    Keep up the good work bro! The Holy Spirit is in the word doing the doing! 😀

    God’s peace! †

  2. Don’t be discouraged, my friend.
    I spent most of my Christian life under the contradiction of ‘non-means’, dualistic spirituality, where God graciously held (sustained) me in spite of my ignorance, and provoked me to the point of wholesale reform in the early 1990’s. The horror is the manner in which the full radiance of the Gospel is so often hidden – caged within much of Christian praxis today – if it were let free to run its full course, then many would indeed be ‘compelled to come’ and truly feast on the grace found in Him.

    Keep earnestly contending, Steve, for though we may not see it, the fields are indeed white unto harvest.

  3. I would echo both David and Howard on this. Luther said the devil via the Pope made him a better theologian than he would have ever been. I’d have to say something similar concerning my background in the searing trials of bapstist/reformed doctrine. That desert fried up much of what clouded my view of the Gospel. In short I would have NEVER come to see the Gospel Luther saw without that despairing other religion. It’s like Luther said paraphrasing Scripture, God must first kill to make alive, take us down to hell in order save us.


  4. Steve,

    I’ve felt that too. You know it points to the real sin, not just the promiscuous sinner with the “negative” sins. Luther made a point about confessing real sin and pretend sin. Fallen men simply do not want to be beggars. The “doer” of the Adamic fallen religion that cloaks itself in anything from rank atheism to false Christianity always wants to be a doer and require “doers” in his religion, a naked receiver that’s altogether different.

    In my evangelical days I hear a 101 pretend sinner testimonies, “I once was _______(bad thing), but the Lord took that away from me.” Or “I still ______(bad thing) but I’m fighting the fight.” These are all pretend sinners, no death of the old Adam has or is really occurring, in fact he’s fighting harder than ever. There’s nothing worse, nor more sinful, than a recovering negative sinner whose now a pretend saint. It’s like an addict/so called former addict. E.g. Food as an addiction, ever notice how even when they become the svelte weight loss person that they are STILL as addicted to their problem as before. The poor fat guy is just less (visually) socially acceptable, the now athletic guy is very acceptable. It’s the prostitute versus the Pharisee here, evangelical pre-born again/conversion person versus the evangelical (now) born again/converted person. A weight lifter is just as obsessed with food as the 400 pound guy is, that’s all either talk about. Neither admit the REAL problem, their will powerless enslavement. That’s the old Adam pretending to be both a sinner and a saint, a “pretend simultaneous sinner and saint”. He’s just put on “Christian/bible” language and garb now. The negative sinner is in a way in a better position to, however, actually receive and have Christ. That’s why Christ said tax collectors and prostitutes would see and have the kingdom of heaven before the Pharisees (the progressive sanctification guys) would. A prostitute that “converts” or is “born again” by way of moving to improvement upon said conversion is simply now twice the son/daughter of hell than they were. A prostitute that gives up on trying to DO, and says, “have mercy on me a sinner” (ever present tense a REAL sinner) is justified.

    This is the “why” of why the sacraments are not received as such, Gospel, because deep down its not water, bread or wine that are the stumbling stones and folly, but rather the Gospel Word in, with and under the same. What Sasse said I’ve repeated so often is a clarion reality, “if you get the sacraments wrong YOU WILL get the rest of Scripture wrong” and thus ALL of the Christian faith wrong. That’s not a theoretical charge but an absolute WILL HAPPEN true reality. Once you disconnect the gift of God given FOR and TO you really and actually you must necessarily re-anchor your soul in false ground elsewhere, shifting sands. That ground is always some form of inward transformation, be heathen religions, Rome’s religion, or the various shades of sacramentarian religions.

    On the aspect of the gift of the Gospel actually given in baptism (real and true forgiveness, rebirth and the Spirit) and the real body and blood of Christ, if we just ignore say the strict verbage of sacrament, means of grace, baptism, Lord’s Supper; perhaps we should ask a question. Because it is often said by the opponents in various ways (and I said it too when I was under that type of religion) “I take very seriously baptism and the Lord’s Supper…just not for my salvation”. That last phrase is critical because that begets, supposedly the Gospel which IS for my salvation. So I wonder if hypothetically, doctrinal specifics aside, we ask this question, “OK, but suppose if God handed you a dollop of mud and said, ‘this will save you”, would you hold on to it and cherish it, or toss it aside for seeking instead the same immediate operation of the spirit you do now?”

    For it is nonsense to say Christ alone Who is the very Word incarnate, then turn around and deny THAT very same incarnate Word that said, “this is My body/blood…for the forgiveness of sin” and “baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. For that same Word incarnate is applying Himself to you literally Word for Word or Word upon Word.

    In short, “This is My body/blood…take eat/drink…for the forgiveness of sin” and “baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” IS Christ alone and nothing else is, it is literally Word (Christ alone) for Word (Christ alone), Word (Christ alone) upon Word (Christ alone). To throw these of (the Word) is to throw Christ alone off.


  5. David, Howard, Larry,

    Thanks, gentlemen! I can always count on the good friends I have here to encourage me when I get discouraged.

    Short on time and energy, lately. So forgive me for not being around as much.

    Keep on keepin’ on, guys!

    – Steve

  6. If you do not believe that you are saved by baptism, then are you saved by baptism if you are, indeed, baptized?

    • Faith grabs hold of the “for you” promise delivered in baptism. To say that nothing happens in baptism, or baptism is just my public proclamation of faith (belief in Jesus) doesn’t sound very much like it believes in the promise delivered, and thus, is not very effective. It’s like saying, no thanks, Jesus. Such a person probably has, at most, John’s baptism of repentence and nothing more.

  7. Oh, and a reminder to you all to play fair. I’m not slamming anyone. Just asking a question.

    • St Roger,

      It is not a slam on any of us. It is rather a love for scripture that we have been given that causes all this discussion with our brothers and sisters of other traditions. It really comes down to does the bible mean what it teaches?

      1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered [2] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which [3] he went and proclaimed [4] to the spirits in prison, 20 because [5] they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. ESV

      So the choice is do we trust that baptism now saves us through the resurrection of Jesus? Or do we look for ways of explaining it away?

      I come from a tradition where we explained it away which had to be constantly mended. Since believing this clear promise no mending is necessary. Rather a thankfulness that God has linked strong promises to plain water linked with the word. Titus 3:5-7 No need for inward contemplating but rather trust in the promises which comes from the outside.

      The same is true of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus clearly states that it is his body and blood. God said it and that settles it whether it is believed or not. Rahter just trust it and enjoy the radical and overwhelming peace when receiving this gift!

      God’s peace. †

  8. Roger,
    we are saved by the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ,
    nothing more, nothing less,
    but that salvation, that grace, that life is extended to us through the means which our Lord has provided –
    His living Word and Sacraments.
    This has been the faith of the saints since the earliest days of the church.

  9. Roger,

    The unfortunately reality to get across is that sadly when a Baptist says “you are not saved by baptism” they mean Rome’s ex opera operato, and that is true. Rome’s ex opera operato is a packed heresy needing pulled apart. That is doing the work of baptism itself in which grace is infused into the baptized.

    A couple of other ways to begin looking at it might help:

    Strictly speaking you are not saved BY the Gospel, Good News, in and of itself but rather the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ that constitutes that Gospel.

    Strictly speaking you are not even saved by the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but rather by the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ FOR YOU.

    Strictly speaking the real Good News, or Gospel, is not even the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ but the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ FOR YOU.

    Strictly speaking one has not really heard Gospel, heard Good News (absent the “the”) until they have heard the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ FOR ME.

    Baptism IS the Gospel FOR YOU/ME because that is to whom it comes, I’m baptized as opposed to “Bob” over there. Thus Baptism saves, it gives or distributes the Gospel and it does so in a particular “for me” way so that Gospel/Good News (absent the “the”) is heard not just for that guy over there, but FOR ME/YOU.

    Again, strictly speaking no one is saved BY faith alone but rather the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ FOR YOU/ME to which that faith lays hold. Faith says, “Ahhhh, it IS FOR ME and thus comes into being”.

    Baptism is to have the name of God and in particular Jesus, Emmanual, Hosanna, which IS to have in fact salvation itself.

    To change either sacrament is to preach another gospel via the means of grace themselves.

    Look at it this way: If someone said, “The gospel is Jesus plus obedience”, we’d all recognize, I hope, that as damned and condemned other gospel. Thus, if one states, “Baptism (the Gospel) is Jesus (part of the Trinitarian name) plus faith or plus obedience”, then that to is another gospel that is condemned.

    More intimately is to have the very flesh and blood that was given and shed for one’s sin in particular. That sacrament IS the Gospel.

    This gets down to the ground to the intimate nub of the real Gospel (Good News). Christ had to come aaaaaaallllllllll the way down to us, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllll the way down to the soil itself.



  10. “That people will just not accept that God acts for us, before we want anything at all to do with Him.”–Steve

    Jan. 14th was a reading from Ezekiel 36 and 37, to the exiles and to us. Somehow I find it relates. I read it out loud to my husband and just about cried. The Lord does it all and will do.

    “Then the nations that are left all round you shall know that I am the LORD; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it. Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like flock. Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

    Then we get the valley of the dry bones.

    … “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O LORD God, you know.” then he said to me “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.. thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD….

  11. Steve…I thought it was more appropriate to address this on your blog rather than someone else’s, particularly with the current posting. The 58th chapter of Isaiah, verse 12 says.”…and thou shalt be the repairers of the breach.” That means we should be building bridges…finding something in common with someone and then exploring from there. In your passion concerning your beliefs, you at times appear to be abrasive, condescending, and elitist and it doesn’t have a good effect on anyone. Rather than getting people to listen to what you have to say, you push them away. That’s why a lot of us give you caustic replies…and I’m as guilty as anyone of doing it. To say its no skin off my nose if you don’t believe as I do, but this is the truth and you are wrong, only makes people angry and adopt the attitude of “who does that arrogant so and so think he is?” If you soft pedal it…the attitude and not your beliefs…more people would be eager to engage in dialogue with you. Your delivery totally defeats your intent. Try finding out where you and others agree and then…gently… express your beliefs. You will then enter into a loving discussion and, even if you still disagree, the other person won’t be saying to himself “will that guy shut up?” I decided to write this when I realized that I and most others were reacting to your delivery, not your message. Most of us are willing to discuss theology all day. Try it…I think you will find a different reaction if you do. Shalom…Alice

    • Preacherlady,
      Funny, but I don’t get from “Repair the breach” fixing bridges.
      A breach, that is a whole in the wall, a gap in the defenses. Just reading this verse and applying it to Steve or anyone else for that matter, I would get the opposite of building a bridge, but putting a wall up.
      I’m just saying… maybe we need to examine our Biblical metaphors a bit more.

      • Bror…breach is a gap in continuity…a temporary tear…most commentaries will cite that verse as a repair in the difference between Jew and Gentile. a hole in the wall or a gap in the defenses is just one of several meanings.

    • Alice,

      Thanks for the critique. Maybe you are right.

      I’ll have to work on that.

      But I still believe that God gave us the Sacraments because He knew what we would do without them (make the whole thing into a project).

      Thanks, Alice.

      – Steve


      • St Stephen, No I dont think Alice is anywhere near right. I think she is very harsh and judgemental. The only scripture she has is taken out of context. So all we have left is her personal opinion.

        Jesus met with so much disapproval his home town folk wanted to toss him off a cliff. That is how much people will hate the truth. So it is no shock that those who disagree with the truth will react badly.

        God’s peace. †

    • Alice:

      I frequent this blog quite a bit (not as much lately but that’s just because I’ve been busy with other things). I’m not a Lutheran and I don’t even play on on TV. However, I can testify that The Old Adam (also known as “Steve”) is not abrasive, elitist or condescending. He’s been nothing but gracious and humble while standing up for what he believes. I wouldn’t have come back and posted my reply earlier if I didn’t think there would be a chance of a fair conversation.

      • Roger…the reason I wrote is that I realized that Steve wasn’t meaning to be any of those things and yet, on another blog which we both frequent, he is known as all of them and more. people just don’t want to interact with him and if they do it always gets to be sarcastic and nasty. When he’s not on this blog, his passion for what he believes comes across caustic and abrasive. All of us have been that way somewhere on our journey and I thought that if I let him know that it was attitude and not theology that was working against him, he could watch how he said things.

  12. Great post. And, yes, it would be a lot easier to make pigs that fly. That would take a simple word from Him. Saving us cost Him his Son.

  13. Thanks so much for the replies, folks. Just for the record, I don’t believe in any type of works contributing to our salvation. I believe in faith alone in Christ alone. The thief on the cross was promised that he would be in paradise with Christ. He certainly could not produce any works with his arms nailed to the cross. He wasn’t baptized, either.

  14. Roger,

    Thanks. You are very kind.

  15. Alice,
    I have to agree with Roger. I have been involved in many discussions here and Steve used to comment at my blog quite often, and I think he has generally been more than pleasant to deal with. I kind of miss him ribbing me at my place to be sure. He has often given me sincere opinions on some of my sermons that I may not agree with, but still appreciate just the same.

    I may owe you an apology as well. I was trying to make some simple comments on the sermon you posted a while back from Pastor Mark (in the same spirit as those aforementioned comments that you would leave for me) and it seems the whole thing sort of spiraled away from that on me. It was not my intention to derail the thread; I was just trying to engage in some friendly conversation.

  16. Jeff,

    No apology necessary, my friend.

    We get a little excited about this stuff because it is of the ultimate importance. I’d worry if we didn’t get a little excited once in a while.

    I hope to get back to visiting my buddies blogs a bit more. I’ve got this new job and it is physical and it really wears this old guy out.

    Anyway, I’m thankful for all my friends here…Baptists, Lutherans, non-denoms, Catholics, and my atheist pals too. I pray that the Lord will bring His good purposes to all the discussions we have.

  17. Steve,
    I know what you mean about busy. I spent the last year and a half engrossed in studying for a master’s degree. Now that it is over, I have a little more time, but not as much as I hoped. Where does that all go anyway.

    Make sure and get your rest old friend.

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