Calling all Calvinists…calling all Lutherans…

I know a bit about each of these branches of Christianity…but46492 Luther och Calvin 170109 by Gunnar E. probably not nearly as much as many of you.

What are the main differences in the two theologies?

We were discusing some of the differences over at a friend’s blog and I realized that maybe my understanding isn’t all that great.

Have you any thoughts on the matter?



“My sin is ever before me.”

 Well…we can’t have that, now can we?Listen and have faith... by carf

The church ought be a “positive” place…right?

A place that ‘uplifts’ you. A place that is ‘not a downer’. Sin is a downer…don’t you know.

We don’t want to hear anything about our lifestyles being sinful…do we?


Well…we need to hear it.

ALL of our lifestyles are sinful. “You can’t say that! You don’t even know me!” If you’re anything like me (and I suspect that you are) then I can say that. We have all sinned in thought, word, and deed. By what we have done, and even more so by what we have left undone. These facts need to be kept clear. They need to be ever before us. That we might know our need of a Savior.

Repentance and forgiveness. Death and life. The old and the new. That’s what we need to hear and we’re not going to hear it at the shopping mall, or the ballgame. We are fortunate if we even hear it at church.



Thanks to Flickr and carf, for the photo.



More so worth seeing (hearing) again, and again





 Yeah…but… what about my good works!?”



Apart from Jesus Christ, God might as well be the devil

.divine light by Amelia PS

I get them all the time from well- meaning friends and family.

You know, the e-mails with the beautiful photos and flowery descriptions of God and His handiwork. The cutsie sayings and wonderful advice on living and giving and caring and sharing. The wonderful graphics with angels and mountains and redwoods. The admonitions to stop and smell the roses before it’s too late. The advice to not take things for granted and to be grateful for all the wonderful things and people that God has given us. All of that may certainly be true…and we certainly ought be grateful. And there is encouragement and good lessons in many of those e-mails. I am grateful for that and those that would share this encouragement with me.

But what about the wrath of a God who is pretty ticked off about what we have done with those gifts He has given us? What about the wrath of God who has given us up to our sin? What about a God who tells us that “the wages of sin is death“? What about a God who is deadly serious about our insistance on replacing Him with a god that we form from our own hearts and minds? That God might as well be the devil as far as we are concerned. Apart from the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus the Christ, and the forgiveness of sin that He gives to us, that God would have us suffer the full consequences of our rebellion.

Once in a while those e-mails have something of Jesus in them. Once in a while they speak of the cross of Christ and the mercy and love that He has for us. And for that I am grateful. Once in a while they do not contain the promise of blessings if you pass the e-mail on to 10 people in 10 minutes, and return it to the one who sent it to you…and for that I am also grateful (nothing worse than “Christian” superstition).

But God did send us His Son. God is loving and merciful. God did give Jesus all power and judgement over creation. God did answer Jesus’ prayer to forgive us by raising him from the dead. The one who died for us, is the same One who will judge us. For that I am greatful.

So, if your looking for something to do, apart from passing on those nice e-mails about a loving God and His beautiful creation…then I would advise you to repent of your sin and believe, be baptized, regularly take and eat His body which was broken and given for you. Drink His blood which was poured out for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Trust in Him when He says that He forgives your sins, all of them. Cast off the yoke of slavery which is the religious project of trying to prove to God, yourself and others that you are serious about God. Realize that deep down you really aren’t all that serious about God (not all that often anyway)…but realize that He is serious about you. Serious enough about you to take the only action that would suffice for you…and that is to die for you, and to forgive you all your sin.

Do all the good in this world that you can do. Just do not connect it to God’s forgiveness for you.

Realize the truth of what Martin Luther said, that “the good that you do will not save you, and that the evil that you do will not condemn you…because of Christ Jesus”.




.Photo by Amelia PS  and Flickr

How can I be sure???

.BillyGraham03_Eve2_176 by tru64dude



 When were you saved?

On what day and in which hour did your life change?

Well you know that if you cannot recall a day that you became a believer you cannot know that you are saved, don’t you?

These questions can plague a believer to the point of distraction and doubt about salvation. They are based upon some concern for others by those who believe he or she had some part in salvation by making a choice. Some, who will deny free will, maintain there must be a point of time to which one can point for proof of salvation.

“We are not to look back to our conversion for assurance, but we must go to the Savior again and again, every day, as though we had never been converted.”   





Can God grab a hold of someone at a Billy Graham Crusade (or any crusade)?

I say, YES!

Can that person have any assurance in that decision that they made to accept Jesus into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior?

I say, NO!     No assurance there.


What do you say?




Thanks, David, at !





Good post on true faith vs. false faith

From   September 19th 2008 - Cause It's Only Money by Stephen Poff


There is a good post on what is true faith vs. false faith on the blog, ‘Defending. Contending.’  blog.


There is a sermon (it’s really a Bible study, Evangelicals never seem to understand the difference) by Pastor Steven Cole of Flagstaff, AZ that goes through all of this with the goal of helping us to know true faith from false faith. I don’t really think he accomplished what he set out to do. In fact I think he may just have poured a little more gasoline on that fire.

At least they are asking the right questions.

They are coming up with the wrong conclusions…but at least they are asking the right questions.


What do you think?



TThanks to Stephen Poff and Flickr for the photo.



In Bondage to Self-Definition (aka, ‘sin’)


By Pastor Mark Anderson


Who am I?  This most basic of questions demands a response and Full of Hot Air by Josh Sommersevery human being makes one. Humans answer this question largely by determining their own identity: I am who I choose to be. Yet our insistence on taking life into our own hands is easily distorted and becomes defining of what the Scriptures call ‘sin’ – that willful insistence on resolving every issue down to what I want.

The culture says that we are bundles of largely unrealized wonderfulness only inhibited by the myriad injustices foisted on us by others (who are, apparently, not so wonderful).

The Bible reveals God’s assessment of the human to us. The defining word regarding what it means to be human does not rightly derive from us but the One who created us…from God. And God says we are willful sinners, deserving of His wrath, in need of repentance and forgiveness. Small wonder humans flee from this God of wrath for all they are worth, preferring to “re-imagine” God in kinder, gentler forms.

If, however, there is no need to talk about the wrath of God, then there is not much need to talk about the sin that incurs the wrath. But this avoidance is no answer to the real problem of sin and all it’s consequences.

Christianity is incoherent without the idea of sin. There can be no good news of the Gospel without first understanding the bad news of sin. The mission of Jesus makes no sense if we remove such concepts from out thinking.

Jesus made it clear that the reason he came to earth was to save sinners. For example, as he said in all three Synoptic Gospels: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners”. Take away the doctrine of sin and we take away the doctrine of the Incarnation. Indeed, we take away the entire message of the New Testament.

Because we are born in the darkness of sin, we assume our blindness to be life in the light. But Christ has come to give us the new birth that we might walk in the “true light”, Christ Himself. When we persist in our self-defining intransigence, we remain in our sins. When Christ opens our eyes by His amazing grace, we see ourselves as God sees us…as sinners in need of His mericful love and forgiveness.




It seems to me that there is a great problem with many Christians, and in so many churches that have long ago passed the problem of sin ( when they accepted Jesus), and have moved on to other, more important things.

I think that our sinfulness needs to be front and center, all the time, otherwise forgiveness (the gospel) just…goes away, and the religious life of ‘doing’ takes over.

What do you think?




. Thanks to Josh Sommers and Flickr for the artwork





God given faith


Here’s a sermon that I have posted here before, but I believe it is worth posting again: Veni Sancte Spiritus by Lawrence OP


I hope the link works and I hope you can invest 20 minutes or so when you get the time.

I think it’s worth hearing again and sharing with friends, relatives, and an enemy here and there if you can get them to.





Faith and Art

Please check out Howard Nowlan’s piece at


Howard thoughtfully explores how God may use art to help keep us in His faith.


Thank you, Howard!





Happy Easter!

I hope you all have a wonderful and joyous Easter!

Easter-EmptyTomb by Donut_Diva

Your friend and brother in Christ Jesus,


      – Steve