About Steve Martin…

I am a Lutheran layman who had searched for many, many years to find the truth about what God expected from me.

I tried jumping through all the religious hoops and read all the latest books. There was always something for me to do… and then another thing, and another. I felt like I was never quite there.

Then I heard, for the first time in my life, the gospel for the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, proclaimed to me, in it’s fullness and clarity, with no qualifications, no strings attached. Nothing left for me to do.

 It hit me like a ton of bricks! Beautiful, life changing, freedom giving bricks!

 No more religious ladders, no more biblical principles for Christian living, no more of me having to do…anything!

Christ has done it all! True freedom, won by my Lord, for me. And all I have to do is…nothing!

It is so wonderful and liberating, that I want to share this Good News with everyone that I can.

                               – Steve Martin    



e-mails welcome     sma9231961@aol.com

167 Responses

  1. Steve,
    I came across your blog via comments you made on one of Michael Spencer’s posts. Things aren’t always nice and neat the way we’d like them, are they. We are all very much saint and sinner. By the way, I am starting seminary in the fall at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.

    Keep up the good work. You’re posting great stuff.

  2. Ivy,

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    Good luck and Godspeed at Seminary. I’m sure you will make a great pastor!

    Yours in Christ,


  3. I doubt any of us have the strength to do what is required of a true christian. What is that you ask…NOTHING, I answer. To believe Jesus died on the cross to save us all from our sins may not be to hard to fathom. To believe we are now required to do NOTHING for our salvation is a tough pill to swallow. I don’t go to church. I don’t give to the needy. I don’t even love my fellow man. This does not make me evil or damned to hell. It makes me human. As a human I believe I am saved because Jesus told me I was over 2,000 years ago. With that belief I will welcome my death and go to my grave. Maybe I’ll be saved maybe not, but the choice is HIS. Nothing I do in this earthly form will change HIS mind about me. So If you want to be a brave christian, do what GOD wants you to do. NOTHING! Let Jesus make the decision, because HE already has. 2,000 years ago.

    • What about what Jesus said? “If you love Me, you will obey me”. We “do” out of love for Christ, not in an effort to get to heaven. Simple. Praying that all believers come to know these simple truths. This website is helping that happen.

      • When it comes to obedience…there are really two kinds. The obedience of action ( what we do )…and the obedience of faith ( Christ at work in us, for faith ).

        Jesus said, also, “sell all you have and give it to the poor.” Or this one, “You must be perfect…”

        Theses hard sayings from Jesus are God’s law. His Word, for sure, but words of law that expose and convict us. Because the truth of the matter is that none of us loves God as we ought…and none of us loves others in the same way that we love ourselves.
        But Jesus knows this about us…and loves us nonetheless.

        There are some great law/gospel classes by Pastor Mark on this site, which might be helpful in making law/gospel distinctions and learning God’s purposes in both of those and how He accomplishes that ( how He DOES that TO us ) in His Word.

        Thank you, Kim, very much!

      • Having heard nothing from the excellent Steve for a full two and a half years, I feared he had been taken home. So I am glad to have received one email today!!

  4. Thank you, Steve.

  5. doubting thomas,

    You are so right. He has made the decision for you…2,000 years ago and whenever it was that you were baptised. He also decided for you right then and there. He adopted you. Know that you are his because of that adoption in water and Word. The kingdom belongs to you. He has done it for you.


  6. Thanks for stopping by our site and leaving a comment – It’s an encouragement for me to be reminded of what Christ has accomplished on our behalf! I’ll be sure to check your blog out.

  7. I found you via a comment on WayneDawg’s blog. I am Lutheran as well; your blog is a joy to read!

  8. HannahJ,

    Thanks very much, Hannah!

    You are always welcome to chime in on any topic. Let me have it if I mess something up!

    I glanced at your site (time constrictions today), it looks very interesting. Later tonight I’ll go back and check it out.

    Take care, Hannah amd God bless!

    – Steve Martin

  9. Steve,
    Found your site through Roland. So far so good man. I will definitely stop by for more. keep up the good work and God bless,


  10. Timm,

    Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your kind words of encouragement!

    Take care, and God bless you.

    – Steve

  11. I came across your blog through Ivy, who left you a link to my post on Romans.

    I like the phrase “freedom giving bricks”. God’s forgiveness is indeed a powerful thing. And just like getting hit with bricks will leave a mark for all to see, so does one’s life after they have experienced the “bricks of freedom”; God’s forgiveness through the cross. Thanks for the image.

    -Pastor Eric-

  12. Pastor Eric,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    I like the image of “bricks leaving a mark”. You and I (along with countless others) know just how true that is.

    I very much enjoyed your post on Romans. That book of Romans contains a truck full of life giving, mark making bricks!

    Thanks very much, Pastor!

    – Steve M.

  13. Steve,
    I found your blog from comments you left on thislamp. You are right on. Thank you, and good work as you keep trusting in Christ’s good work.

  14. bzephyr,

    Thanks very much, Bzephyr!

    I appreciate the encouragement.

    – Steve

  15. This is great Steve…. from Professional Standup Comedy…. to movie actor…. to Believer. Ta-ha. Ok… so I am not the first to observe you share your name with a famous comedian/actor?

    Anyway… Your story is fascinating. I am on a journey of rediscovery myelf and can relate to your journey through the dogma of many of the denominations.

    It is hard to surrender our beliefs in the do’s and don’ts as being in some way validating of God’s acceptance of us. Sorry… my logic a little jumbled in that last sentance but perhaps you get the picture.

    More and more, I am recognizing that Jesus work was/is complete. We need add nothing to it. I havent reached the freedom of a full understanding yet. For me it is a progression.

    I simply cannot disbelieve Jesus was who he said he was and I accept his gift to me and others. I am simply fighting the well-formed habit of guilty conscience. Yet I feel I am where I need to be on my journey of discovery.

    I heard a profound thought on … of all places…. the TV series “Kung Fu” which I never watch but happened to stop at while channel surfing because of an intriguing fight scene. A student told his master that he wanted to quit whatever progression of teaching he was receiving at that time because he thought it was useless. To which the wise master told him…

    “The student can never know the value of the lesson until the lesson is complete”.

    I feel this describes where I am at.

    Glad to cross your path.



  16. Chaz,

    Thanks for stopping by ‘the old Adam’!

    Your journey is not unlike countless people who have heard the freedom of the gospel of Jesus Christ and who have never looked back.

    It is a journey. It is a process. Thankfully He is in control of the process and He will bring you through it.

    “The student can never know the value of the lesson until the lesson is complete”.

    I like it!

    His blessings to you, Chaz!

    – Steve (the jerk) Martin

  17. It is finished!!!!!

  18. Interesting blog. I’ll add it to my Google Reader.

  19. J.K. Jones,

    Thanks very much! I look forward to reading your insights from time to time, here on ‘the old Adam’. You are always welcome, J.K.
    I have added Fear and Trembling to my blogroll and I look forward to perusing there!

    – Steve M.

  20. Just Brilliant! I followed your comment from Isaiah 54:3 who recently linked me. Loving the posts! Praise Jesus!

  21. A Lutheran and you had to search for years? Galatians and Ephesians weren’t enough? Oh, and that guy named Martin Luther. Didn’t he write something about this? Just teasing you, my brother!

  22. Wow, thank you for the comforting words of the gospel!!
    I’m so happy this site is here for myself and all the other believers that see no hope in themselves and can only Count on Christ. Because God has taught us that is the Only Way and Truth. And this is the Only Hope any of us have to hope in and comfort our hearts and minds in the Gospel.
    God bless All of you with more Grace and Truth in our Precious Saviour.


  23. Martina,

    I appreciate your kind words!

    Thanks for coming by!

    There is no hope in ourselves..only in Him and Him alone!

    You are always welcome here.

    His Grace to you!

    – Steve

  24. After years of religion and its different hoops, I too came to a point that I realized it doesn’t really work. God, later on, amazingly revealed the truth of His grace and unconditional love.

    The information you shared here resonates well with me.

    Keep growing in His grace!

  25. Bino,

    Thanks for dropping by and your testimony of God’s grace!

    Thsi God that we have ceratinly is an awesome God.

    That He loves us anf forgives us all the things we have done and will yet do against His Word, is mind boggling.

    I hope you will come by often and give us your thoughts on whatevet it is we are batting around.

    Thanks very much, Bino!

    – Steve Martin

    PS-Looking forward to your blog and doing some perusing!

  26. Thank you for commenting on my blog. Though not a Lutheran myself, I respect your denomination and love to listen to good Lutheran teaching.


  27. Anna,

    Thanks a lot, Anna!

    I look forward to perusing a bit on your blog.

    Any proclamation that puts forth Christ and His work on the cross for sinners is alright with me, too. I don’t care what label it’s attached to.

    Christ first…Christ last…and Christ always!

    Take care Anna, and God bless!

    – Steve

  28. Steve,

    Though we CANNOT do anything for our salvation, surely you agree we WILL do some things, and stop doing others, because of our salvation. Luther may have thought James a “strawy epistle” but I like how C.S. Lewis put it: “”Regarding the debate about faith and works: It’s like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most important.”

    I agree with your point though and that is where I am now. “Those who are in Christ are free from the law of sin and death!”

  29. ProdigalKnot,

    Yes, we will do some things and not do others. True enough. The law demands good works and the Holy Spirit inspires them.

    Luther realized the point that you make. With him it was a matter of emphasis. In James, the gospel seemed almost absent and works seemed the emphasis.

    Luther himself, was a very busy guy, doing good works all over the place, but he knwe that the old Adam in us would latch onto that kind on language and fget it all mixed up with grace if he didn’t keep them very well seperated.

    Good thoughts, my friend!

    Thanks for checkin’ out ‘the old Adam lives!’

    – Steve M.

  30. Free to do nothing…but called by love into all things…LIFE! When we get “it”…our life really begins!

    We changed churches about three years ago and it was then that my husband and I realized we had bought into double mindedness…While truly believing that we were saved by grace through faith in Jesus…we had become very much caught up in the doing vs the being!

    Now we are definitely running the race to win…the “Fun Run”… way better than the “Guilt Run”!

  31. Nancy,

    ” …While truly believing that we were saved by grace through faith in Jesus…we had become very much caught up in the doing vs the being!

    Now we are definitely running the race to win…the “Fun Run”… way better than the “Guilt Run”!”

    Amen, Nancy!!

    Great thoughts!

    A real pleasure to discuss these matters of the Christian faith with you, my friend!

    Thanks, very much!

    – Steve

  32. Just letting you know that you’re a great guy!


  33. Hey Steve, thanks for coming by and commenting on my blog. It’s great to meet new people! I’m really enjoying reading your blog too. Looking forward to reading more.

    God bless and happy blogging!

  34. Matt,

    Thanks very much!

    I am looking forward to doing some perusing over at ‘The Church of No People’.

    His blessings to you, my friend!

    – Steve

  35. Steve- We’re all on journey seeking truth. We’re at different points on that journey. The destination is not what we seek. It IS the journey. We will all arrive at the same destination one day. Blessings to you!

  36. Don,

    Thank you, Don!

    I appreciate you stopping by!

    I think that the “truth” has found us, in the person of Christ Jesus.

    He said it Himself, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…”

    Thanks be to God that He does seek after us, the lost.

    By His grace, we will arrive there!

    Take care, and God bless you, my friend!

    – Steve

  37. I liked your comment on David Hayward’s cartoon: Caution Failing People–that you were among a group that helped the wounded. That was encouraging. I have completed a doctoral dissertation that looked at how people recovered after ‘muddy tunnel’ church experiences.

    I have made this dissertation available online at the following address: ChurchExiters.com.

    It may be helpful to many people who have been wounded or those who love and care for those who have been wounded. Keep at it–in Him.

    Barb O.

  38. Barb O.,

    Thank you, Barb.

    I’ll try and check out your dissertation in the very near future.

    I sure appreciate you stopping by.

    Yours in Christ,


  39. Hey
    I found you on Jon Spadino’s blog. I am a Lutheran and I enjoy your posts a lot. Thanks.

  40. Sarah,

    Nice of you to stop by, Sarah!

    All are welcome here, but I have a particularly soft spot in my heart for fellow Lutherans!

    – Steve

  41. Hi

    I am delighted to tell you that my Book Proposal has been accepted by a publisher. I am thankful for this further opportunity of making my doctoral research available to a wide audience.

    This will immediately affect the availability of my dissertation on my Church Exiters website: http://www.churchexiters.com. I will leave excerpts and point people to the book but access to the entire dissertation will soon come to an end. Thought you and your readers would like to know.

  42. Attending The Insititute of Basid Youth Conflicts seminar many years ago nearly ruined my life.
    I have since learned the 3 steps to finacial freedom.
    The 5 steps to a godly marriage.
    The 10 steps to being a godly man.
    Oh heck, I give up!

  43. I’m loving your blog. I clicked over to your blog from evangelicalinthewilderness.blogspot.com. I am a practicing Presbyterian, but I was raised Lutheran and will never forget the years of Lutheran parochial school or my confirmation. I have a soft spot for Luther 🙂

    I’m happy to have found another blog to read!


  44. Jamie,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    I have a soft spot in my heart for Presbyterians!

    R.C. Sproul is one of my favorites!

    You have a terrific blog, Jamie. I look forward to going over there and looking around a bit.

    And congrats on baby #3!

    Your friend and brother in Christ,


  45. RC be my man, bro!

  46. Sproul rocks! (as the kids say)

  47. Hello Steve – I read your comment on 3 myth about preaching.

    you quoted “I never measure my congregation, I weigh it.” Dr. Joseph Parker –

    I thought that was a clever and partially true quote… Do you have anything else that can help with what Dr. Joseph means by it?


    any commentary would also be welcome.

  48. Scott,

    Are you sure that was me?

    I don’t remember that.

    I am losing it, though, and I don’t remember what I had for breakfast.

    I wonder if it was another Steve?

  49. Scott,

    It was the guy below me(in the comments on that other blog) that spoke of Dr. Joseph.

    Sorry about that.

  50. Though I’m a member of TEC my mom is Lutheran and my deceased dad was an anglo-catholic Epicopalian so I and my siblings were dragged to both churches. I’m in complete agreement with you. So now what are we going to do about Dawkins aned the missionary atheists?

  51. Nihilist/Christian?! Has nihilism been assigned a new and completely different meaning than it has had in our language for centuries? It is about as opposite of Christian as a philosophical point of view can be, denying each and every oft-repeated truths in the Bible.

  52. i came across your blog on the 3rd use of the law and posted on it. it is a timely issue. please get back to me if what I said did not make sense to you.

    the upshot is that Lutherans say sanctification can be preached and exhorted by the 3rd use.

    article Vi says no. sanctification and its fruit simply happen.

    what is described by lutherans as sanctification is actually mortification of the flesh. this is where the holy spirit (!) uses the law to submit our old adam to make him unwillingly service-able to our neighbor. law has both a carrot and stick side. behavioral scientists tell us that promise of reward works better than fear of punishment. it is all still law law law.

    wherever there is talk about something we should be doing or trying harder or sweat, that is law. so just because the holy spirit is mentioned as being at work does not make this any less law. and it does not make it sanctification. sanctification is about life. becoming holy. law is about mortification. death.

    the will power of the old adam must also die. the statement that christians never willfully sin is intimately connected with these errors you blogged about. in peace,


    read article VI epitome and solid declaration. but first read Luthers sermon on the two kingdoms and then when reading article VI looks for what kingdom is being referred to in each part of article VI. Luther: “in the heavenly kingdom, ALL works are excluded. Why? they are ALL included in the earthly kingdom. “. in article VI regeneration=faith´= sanctification.



  53. Hey Steve,

    I’m glad you found the sufficiency of Christ’s salvific work to be a satisfying revelation. I too would say that is an important cornerstone to my own faith. But I wonder if the importance of this isn’t over emphasized here. Christ didn’t save you, me or anyone to simply do nothing. But actually invites us into a labour of a different kind. Not the striving for God’s approval that I knew, and I think you are describing about your own conversion story, that is certainly done with in Jesus. I will never forget hearing the Father’s words to me, “you have done all you ever need to do to please me in accepting my Son.” Those words shook me to my core. But thank God they didn’t end there – they propelled me on to seek for God’s best in my life. Which includes the things in God’s heart for me to accomplish, to give my life to. Working for justice in this world. Righting relationships, working for peace and working to undo the systemic injustice of poverty.

    I hope this isn’t too cute for you. I suspect we’d enjoy a lot of the same things, but also have some serious differences of opinion as well.

    see you over on Naked Pastor.

  54. Hi Frank,

    Yeah, the Lutheran view is radically different than probably 95% of Christianity.

    We don’t believe that we accept Christ…but rather in our rebellion…He accepts us.

    Working in the world for all those things you mentioned is great..but they are not the cornerstone nor foundation of our faith, but the dearth and resurrection of Christ…totally apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think.

    It’s a radical message…but we believe it is quite Biblical.

    Thanks, Frank!

    – Steve

  55. “We don’t believe that we accept Christ…but rather in our rebellion…He accepts us.”

    I like that, Steve. I hopped on over to check your blog after seeing a recent comment you made about baptism on the internetmonk site. I admit to having some confusion about baptism at times.

    • Thanks, JoanieD!

      There are a lot of interesting posts and comments on this blog regarding Baptism.

      It can be confusing. Look around a little, Joanie. Maybe you’ll stumble onto something that can be of help to you. 😀

      – Steve

  56. Wow, good stuff! Keep it going!!

  57. I found you through the InternetMonk. You present things in a very straight forward manner. A former Lutheran now Episcopalian emersed in the Bethel Bible series right now. I accept Grace with the understanding that I am “Blessed to be a blessing”. It means I do not because I must but because I want to do.

  58. liz,

    Amen to that!

    Thanks very much, liz!

    – Steve

  59. One of the joyous outcomes during the International School Project conferences I participate with in Guatemala is watching the light go on in the minds of Roman Catholics who really have a love for Christ. “Ah! It’s not by works! Whew!!! Is *that* every good news!!!” With the grass roots rise of Bible study groups among them and as they work to implement the curriculum “Foundations of Christian Morals and Ethics” in their schools, true Christians (‘married to Christ’) are collaborating across sectarian lines.

  60. Thanks, Lon!

    Keep up the good work and keep sowing those seeds!

    Hand over Christ with NO strings attached!

  61. Bizarre coincidence: I was sitting checking the interwebs, reading the nice comment you left at my blog. At the same time, two of my boys were playing at Three Amigos, and they decided I should be Lucky Day because I have some gray hair. And I click through to your blog (expecting you to be named Adam something), and see “Who is Steve Martin?”


  62. Those are some stabe coincidences.

    I’m the original ‘Jerk’ !

  63. Found your blog through Parchment and Pen. I have to ask if you were ever ordained in another denomination in a past life because you seriously remind me of someone I knew who happens to share your name.
    Totally agreed with your comments on P&P. My husband and I look forward to browsing your blog.

    • Thank you, Hollase.

      No, I have never been ordained (even in a past life – that I am aware of).
      It’s refreshing to find folks that agree with you on matters of the Christian faith, now and then. Once you peruse the Old Adam blog for a while, you may change your mind. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by, Hollase!

  64. My Old Adam is known not just as a good swimmer, but a medalist in high jump and is renown for his strength at bull-throwing.

    • Amen on the bull-throwing, Bob. An often down-graded talent that is really an art form that should receive more appreciation.

  65. Bob,

    I think our O.A.’s went to the same training camp.

    Mine can fling that dung as well as anyone I have ever seen.

    Thanks, my friend!

    – Steve

  66. It is difficult for Steve Martin to become a Catholic today when even Catholic priests tend to accept concensus in regard to Pope Paul VI’s prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae. Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Nobel Peace Prize Address refers to this idea,as her nuns were teaching NFP fertility awareness to the poor, beggars and lepers so they KNOW the few days in the cycle when fertility occurs, and avoid the cancer threat f the Pilll. Muslims have families while Christians and Jewsd ignore he Pope’s documents. Like the opinion survey, What is truth?–the mob concensus is Crucify the One who is the way, TRUTH and life. Islam teches that Prophet Jesus was NEVER CRUCIFIED. I wonder why Steve Martin chooses to not be a Roman Catholic.Answer?

    • I can answer that, Ed.

      Because there is no freedom there. In Christ, I am free. Free from religion and having to prove my worthiness and goodness. The fact of the matter is that I am not, and will never be good enough on my own, but Christ Jesus has done it all for me. (Actually that is true for every person on earth).

      There is no assurance of salvation in the Catholic Church. I know many Catholics who wonder if they’ve done enough. I know the answer to that one, as well. Of course they haven’t done enough. Nor could they ever. St. Paul warns those who are trying to add to the finished work of Christ that they are cutting themselves off from His grace.

      We have one Mediator for the grace that we need and that does not reside in any sinful man here on earth or any pope. Christ Jesus is that Mediator.

      No semi-Pelagian religious systems for me, Ed. Just the love of God and His forgiveness for me on the cross and in my baptism and in His Holy Supper.

      I hope that helps you understand why I am no longer a Roman Catholic. I have actually HEARD the gospel!

      Thanks, Ed.

  67. Amen, Steve! There is such a worldly ‘allure’ for humans to always try to set this up as a merit system. I am so grateful to God that He let me stumble in the darkness for half a century before finally giving me a Road-to-Damascus style awakening. All I have to do is remember that period of my life to know how much I merit His grace and mercy.

  68. Steve,
    I came across your comments on the Naked Pastor blog, and came here to learn more about you. It seems you know Jesus, and I’m guessing you love him for what he’s done for you. Continue the good work!

  69. Hi Steve,
    I “know” you from the Blog of Veith. May I join your forum?
    There are two Helen’s on Dr. Veith’s blog. I haven’t written much but faithfully look thru them each day. I’ve exploring Lutheranism and been attending a local congregation. I like what I’m learning.

    Helen K.

    • Hi Helen,

      We would be quite pleased to have you join us here for some discussion about the Christian faith.

      I’m very happy that you are liking what you are hearing from the Lutheran point of view.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m looking forward to hearing your take on some of these great issues that we are priveleged to examine.

      Take care and thanks again, Helen.

      – Steve

  70. Steve, I am Paul from Tullian’s site. When ever I feel compassionate about something and want to respond you usually beat me to the punch. You say all the things I want to say. Thanks for that because I stink at writing. Always look forward to your post. God Bless

    P.S. Did you read Sharon’s post Dec. 20th on Tullian’s post . Does Grace Produce Disobedience? It broke my heart because that was me before understanding The One Way Love of Christ and Grace.
    I was hoping you would respond to her.

  71. Hello Paul.

    Thanks for stopping by and your gracious comments.

    I’ll have to go back to Tullian’s site and look for Sharon’s comment.

    I don’t think you “stinl” at writing, at all.

    What you just wrote was wonderful!

    God bless you, Paul.

    – Steve

  72. I love your ‘about me’ … it’s so true about the message hitting like a tonne of bricks- the message just ‘clicks’ doesn’t it?

    And the fact that it was all down to Him. not us! When we grasp that love, there is nothing we wouldn’t do!

  73. Hi curiouscatlady!

    Yes, indeed. When that light switch turns on, there is no going back into the dark of our own efforts.

    “And the fact that it was all down to Him. not us! When we grasp that love, there is nothing we wouldn’t do!”

    Love it! Spot on, curiouscatlady.

    Thanks so much!

  74. All I can say right now is “thank you” and I will be back. I was perusing google images and “borrowed” one of your images from your blog – well, I saw the title with the Old Adam in it and I was curious so exited out of google and clicked. We both know the Lord knew I would!

    I am a widow with four children left to raise here on this earth and sometimes the doubts and questions flow like a very strong current in my mind and heart.

    I can’t wait to come back and explore this site further, for now, again, thank you for your time and diligence in sharing.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you fervently seeking Him!
    Angela in Missouri

  75. Hi Angie,

    Thanks for stopping by. You are welcome to anything you find here, my friend.

    I will keep you in my prayers. You have received a tough lot in this world, but our Lord won’t ever leave you. He will get you through it, my friend.

    I’m just getting ready to leave for work, but I will check out your blog later when I get home.

    God bless you and keep you.

    – Steve

  76. 1 John 2:3-6
    New King James Version (NKJV)

    The Test of Knowing Him
    3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

    Steve, Tullian did a daily devotional for Saddleback Church and his topic was the above scripture. I was very confused by his interpretation. I had left a web site on your blog but later found out it would not open. I did not want to debate this on his web site but am interested in your thoughts on the above passage. God Bless

  77. Hi Paul,

    Well, we Lutherans do theology. Because the Scriptures have law language and gospel language, it is helpful to look at the whole of Scripture and see where God is going with His law…and His gospel.

    In all my years on this earth, I have never met a single Christian who keeps His commandments. For us sinners, it is impossible. We are tainted with sin and so we desire to quite often, place ourselves ahead of the Living God and our neighbors.

    Jesus told us that if we are angry with our brothers then we are murderers. He also told us that we have to “BE perfect…”

    This law of God exposes us and our need of a Savior. It convicts and condemns. But that’s not the last word. The gospel comes along and frees us…gives us life again…in the forgiveness of our sins.

    They asked Jesus “what is it to be doing the works of the Father?”

    Jesus didn’t lay out a program of obedience to the law for them, but instead he said, “believe in the one whom the Farther has sent. That is what it is to do the works of the Father.”

    So, we have a law/gospel paradigm at work. The law kills (St. Paul refers to the 10 Commandments as “the ministry of death”)…and then the gospel makes alive again.

    That is our understanding of it, Paul.

    I hope that was a bit of help. There are some pretty good posts on Law and Gospel on the blog here, if you have a bit of time to check them out.

    Thank you, friend.

    – Steve

  78. Just found your blog, searching for discussions on open vs closed communion. Found your discussion posted here very insightful. Will be listening to it again. We’ve had both sides at our church, retiring pastor had close (oppositie of far) and the new pastor has closed (very tall, impenetrable hedges). Your description of what is the church, likewise was very insightful. Will be looking at other discussions you have here. Its always refreshing to find a Lutheran pastor willing to discuss and clarify things.

  79. Hi Brenda,

    Thank you for your comments and stopping in at The Old Adam.

    There’s quite a bit here (compiled over several years). I hope that you’ll find things here that will be of benefit to you, and anyone that you may share them with.

    I used to write a lot of the posts, but now I mostly defer to my pastor, Pastor Mark. He’s a pretty busy guy, but he does poke his nose in here now and then to answer some questions or to help clarify some issues for folks regarding the Lutheran view of the faith.

    God bless you, Brenda.

    – Steve

  80. Hi, Steve! I’m currently enjoying your posts – specially the one about repentance! Keep it up brother and may God continually use you (even through this blog) to reach out to people!

  81. Thank you, Kebs.

    And you, as well!

  82. “May the God who gives hope fill YOU with all joy and peace by YOUR believing, that YOU may abound in hope with power of holy spirit. – Romans 15:13” This is one of my favorite verses from the bible. It is a great reminder that God will take care of us if we believe in Him.

  83. Steve hi

    I tried to send this as an email but your address blew back

    I feel you are a friend since I find myself agreeing with everything you (and pretty welll you alone) have been saying recently on Law-Gospel on the Heidelblog! (I was chipping in as ‘Richard UK’)

    So I thought you might be able to steer me to a ‘big evangelical name’ who has exegetically interpreted Rom 8 13 as the solid gospel liberty we understand, rather than as the typical ‘we must now do this out of gratitude’ synergistic business

    You don’t need to convince me but I say a ‘big name’ because my interlocutor here will not, cannot see, my arguments (massively different hermeneutical paradigms?), and would only even stop to consider if I could point him to someone ‘big’. I fear John Owen is at best ambiguous on this; John Stott in the UK likewise; and similarly many US theologians. So Bavinck? Moo? though ideally Luther or Calvin!. I would certainly be happy to draw on a full-blooded Lutheran though my interlocutor would only consider his exegesis not his pedigree. We are both at home with Greek

    Can you help? The exegesis has got to be unstoppable!!

  84. Hi Richard,

    Sorry about the e-mail thing. I changed it to one that works… sma9231961@aol.com

    As far as your problem with “a big name” who agrees with us (or we him), I’m not sure, off the top of my head.

    I’ll ask my pastor. He may know where to point your interlocutor.

    Always a pleasure to run into fellow Christians who can put all of this where it belongs, on Christ, and at the foot of the cross.

    Thanks, Richard. I’ll try and get back to you asap.

    – Steve

  85. Richard,

    My pastor said this may be just what you are looking for:


    I hope it does the trick, friend.

  86. LOVE this! We should take Him at His word!

  87. Love this!!!

    • Mr Steve Martin

      I was able to hit up Mark Anderson’s page via yours—checking out the pastor’s messages and such. Most refreshing. I knew you Lutherans were cool; but even I was surprised by the clarity.

      I can see now how you have been able to interact with Jason Stellman quite effectively; you’ve had excellent training.

      Anyway, I just wanted you to know I was paying attention—looking at your stuff and reading away.


  88. Thanks, so much, David.

    You are a good man. God bless you, my friend.

    – Steve

  89. Dear Steve

    I was able to peruse your comments over at Jason Stellman’s website concerning St James epistle and the subsequent discussion in the comment boxes.

    You wrote:

    “James just places the onus in the wrong place. Put the focus back onto you.

    I would suggest St James MUST be read through the periscope of describing the finished work of Christ. When St James describes the proper behaviour of the Christian person; no one can meet such a standard. Far from being the onus on the Just and Sinner saint, it ought to be seen as pointing to the perfect Godman Christ The Lord and Redeemer FOR sinners.

    I understand some of your influences which do relate to the Biblical text. Forde and onward. However, given the text and where it points—to Christ—one would be hard pressed to argue St James “places the onus in the wrong place.”

    St James epistle, therefore, preaches Christ’s perfection on behalf of those ungodly sinners God is pleased and free to justify; just in a deeper, sometimes more difficult way to discern throughout the text.

    But it is there and it is all.

    You continued:

    “There may be some value there as a corrective for Christians who have forgotten why we were made…but it places works on the brain, and opens the door to legalism and self-righteousness (at least I’m better than…she is).

    Depends. If we see clearly what the Lord’s half brother (St James) is saying and conversely not saying, we escape the snares of legalism and come into the bounty of Christ’s finished work on behalf of sinners in a most beautiful manner.

    Your comment continued:

    “Works will naturally flow from a believer the way we naturally breathe after we are born.

    I agree! And we ought to remember this when we read St James. The worst thing we can do, however, is read the text as you seem to be doing and ignore its rich Christ-centered message, or do what non-confessional Christian evangelicals seem to do, skating over the surface of the text, finding “works” at the center of the message just because our hearts as sinners are of a two fold dimension: idol factories (Calvin and Luther), and factories that love the law, pinning for righteousness via the law. As you so aptly put it—to keep Old Adam in the saddle where he surely doesn’t belong.

    Your summation:

    “James might be looked at in the same way a doctor might slap the behind of baby who comes out of the womb not breathing.

    If I understand you correctly, I think I agree here. I would submit the writer to the Hebrews does this as well in many another of his statements. Also, it seems many of our Lord’s own statements could be taken in the same direction. Like the ones where he does not give the gospel, but only law in specific encounters with the pharisees and others.

    Finally, I do agree with much of what you say brother. I just find—via my pastor—St James to be intimately Christ-centered if the text is looked at with significant depth. This might be an added dimension of Presbyterian insights into St James epistle. I have not checked some of the other Lutheran sources on this (Chemnitz and Walther).


    • 1. EITHER OF YOU KIND SOULS – could you kindly post Jason’s weblink for me to read related topics

      2. STEVE – your phrase ‘a corrective for Christians who have forgotten why we were made’ is potentially revealing. Perhaps you and I have shared the view that God’s ultimate plan for us is ‘holiness’ or, I prefer, ‘Christ-likeness’ (and these of course smack of morality). We have found DIY holiness impossible, and (rightly) insist that God must work it in us; but we remain nervous when we don’t see it.

      3. However the prime duty of man is to know and enjoy God forever, and the means to this end is our transformation into Christ-likeness which (i) includes dependence and love as much as it does morality, and (ii) is 100% God’s covenant responsibility to bring about.

      4. Sanctification, and you know this, is primarily about ‘setting apart’ and is also primarily a definitive act by God on regeneration. Transformation (Rom 12 v2) is a much better word than sanctification to describe Christian growth because it weighs more of God’s activity.

      5. Taking our eyes off our morality (whether achieved by us or by God), and putting them on knowing and enjoying God, frees us and paradoxically, as you know, brings about what had previously so worried us.

      6. DAVID – Yes, Jesus did indeed speak law to the pharisees but because part of His function was as the true and better Prophet and Law-Giver. But hours before His death, He spoke out the New Covenant for all and any who believe, including those pharisees (Nicodemus? Joseph of Arimathea?) who might have at last realised that, encapsulated in the Sermon on the Mount, the law was impossible for man.

      7. When Jesus said ‘I come not to abolish the law’, He meant that He was not an antinomian, and consequently He would have to die for our sins. I do not think He meant that He was leaving it in place for us, by which I mean no more Law ‘qua Law’ (as Law). The Law would now be the rainbow, the promise (as well as a model for civil governments by which to enable the peace which would allow men to come to saving faith)

      8. Many find this too fatalistic as if it lets man off the ‘responsibility’ hook, but behind this lies the assumption that we, in and of ourselves, can do something to please God (whether to earn salvation, keep it, earn blessings now, or rewards in heaven, or simply enjoy seeing Him smile). We can’t; Luther realised that we have no more (moral) autonomy after conversion than we did before. Yes, we remain ‘responsible’ but it is an Enlightenment notion to suggest that respons-ibility implies ability.


      9. People often say that we want to contribute something to our own salvation. I don’t and never have; I am delighted when God says He will accomplish it. But it is my lack of faith that makes me want to contribute something. I am nervous that I will arrive before the pearly gates and, to hoots of derision from onlookers. Jesus will say ‘I never expected you to trust me that much!!’. I would prefer to have something to offer and then argue whether it was enough or not. I think we all prefer the safety of servant-hood rather than scandalous risk of a sonship claim.

      10. It is not just presbyterians that look outside themselves for (an imputed) righteousness; Lutherans too. But I personally have found, while eschewing ‘cooperation’, it is the Reformed wing who are the more likely to emphasise man’s role – paradoxical, given Calvin’s emphasis on the sovereignty of God!!

      My penny worth


      • Richard,

        You have given us much to think about. Very good stuff, indeed.

        I’m ready to declare you an honorary Lutheran. You are more Lutheran than most of the Lutherans that I know. 😀

        Here’s that link to Jason Stellman’s site:


        Thank you.

  90. David,

    Maybe I missed it.

    But when I read James I don’t see the forgiveness of sins for the beleaguered sinner, so much as the lash on the back to get going.

    I much prefer Paul’s letters and the gospels, for the gospel is much more apparent.

    I’m not familiar with Walther of Chemnitz. I’ve heard of them, of course, but they are of Missouri Synod bent. We prefer the Fordeian types, for they really seem to understand the true radicality of the gospel and the true freedom (from the self-ascendency religious project).

    I appreciate your comments, David. Thank you, friend.


    I was reading your post (your site) on your screenplay, ‘Interloper’ (of The Interloper?).

    I love the premise! I hope you figure out a way to get it to your liking.

    One day, hopefully, we’ll see it on the big screen.

    Blessings to you, friend.


  91. Dear Steve Martin,

    Preciously. But the lash on the back of sinners is not a lash, but the description of Christ FOR (and on behalf) of sinners. Read St James carefully; the lash you speak of is intimately tied to the person and work of Christ. I.e., the description of the “perfect man” which you take to be the lash describes Christ’s active-passive obedience on behalf of sinners quite ironically.

    Think of St James as the other side of the gospels. What did Christ actually do and what did His life look like — FOR us.

    Make more sense?

    Yes, I’m working hard on Interloper plus a tv pilot which takes place inside the New York City Police Department’s Counter-terrorism bureau. The pilot will be heavily influenced by the already-not-yet eschatology (two kingdoms) inherent in creation.


  92. David,

    The Word of God actually DOES something to us. The law (what we should, ought, or must be doing) accuses us, and does not make us free.

    St. James is loaded with law and sends us inward. Looking inward to see if we are really Christians, or not.

    We Lutherans look to the external Word. To the hearing of the gospel and to the sacraments. Places where God acts for us totally in spite of what we do, say, feel, or think.

    There is real assurance there. Real freedom.

    And once you’ve tasted that, you’ll never again go back under the law (what we do) again to judge whether or not you are really His.

    I hope that clarifies our (Lutheran) thinking a bit better on the Book of James.

    Wishing you much success, David, with your writing. Those two projects sound like winners to me!

    In His grip,


  93. Dear Steve,

    I would agree with what you have said. Sorta. We are going through St James epistle right now in my Church.

    Presbyterians do not look to ourselves, indeed, our doctrine of Justification and Sanctification is almost identical to Lutheranism — despite what some Reformed say. Historically, we prioritise Justification over Sanctification — and remember, John Calvin learned his doctrine of Justification through Martin Luther. This is clearly seen in first and second generation Reformers, including Dr Zacharias Ursinus and Kasper Olevianus. See R. Scott Clark for details.

    Furthermore, St James is understood to be preaching law — promoting the idea of sinners looking at themselves, only if one does do not equate St James use of “wisdom” with St Paul’s use of Christ!

    Look at Galatians 5 where St Paul lays out the gifts of the spirit — an effect of being in Christ — through sanctification, clearly seen to be the work of the Spirit of God and St James epistle chapter 3 — starting with verse 17.

    Replace “wisdom” in St James with the Word incarnate (Christ) in St Paul, in other words.

    As an illustration of the tremendous beauty of the law-gospel hermeneutic in St James, look here,


    “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice.”

    St James then preaches the Holy Gospel, where the hinge of the heart grasps onto Christ’s finished work. St James begins here on verse 17, where like St Paul’s use of “but” in the blessed Apostle’s epistle to the Ephesians chap. 2 uses the same “but” to lead into the Holy Gospel.


    “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. 18 And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.”

    To draw a connection, let’s look at Galatians 5 in St Paul’s epistles.

    “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self- control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.”

    St James is clearly writing about Christ here — for this is what Christ has accomplished. St James presupposes (remember we have far more than just St James epistle) human effort in light of the law will not bring about holiness.

    It is not needed because of the active-passive obedience of Christ. When we first glimpse the law, above, and than Holy Gospel, we have no choice if conversation is applied to us via the operative Word to look only to Christ.

    We do NOT look to ourselves, but only on the finished work of Christ. St James backs this up quite clearly.

    Who among us does what St James outlines in the Gospel beginning in verse 17? Only Christ. Who is peaceable? Who is full of mercy? Who is impartial? Who was the furtherest thing from a hypocritical?

    Who was perfection? Christ the Lord.

    In Scripture, law-gospel is not always simplistic — as we see in St James epistle. But it is always there! We also MUST understand — or see, the historical-redemptive context of St James epistle. What you appear to see as the “lash” is better understood to be a description of the Church age — a description of the ethic of Heaven (from above) in comparison with the ethic of hell, clearly glimpsed in St James here:

    “So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. 6 And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence- and is set on fire by hell.”

    It is law of God which shows God’s people the difference between what is from above — Christ and Him risen for sinners — and what comes from below, apart of the ethic of the serpent in the Garden.

    The law reflects God’s Holy character. But it does not replace the heart of stone with a heart of flesh — the picture of regeneration and conversion typified in Book of Ezekiel.

    In a word, you are correct when you say the laws does not free us, nor does it Justify or Sanctify sinners. It is the gospel that justifies and sanctifies sinners, clearly seen in St Peter’s first epistle (in the beginning) and St Paul’s entire point of Galatians 3,

    “The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so many things for nothing?- if indeed it was for nothing. 5 Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?”

    I would recommend reading more Reformational commentaries on St James epistles, brother Steve, as the gospel is clearly preached in this beautiful Book, apart of the Word of God — especially when we understand the effect on it on those who believe, by the work of the Spirit of God.

    Phil. 2:13 applies here too. Often times St James is read to be a bouncing ball going all over the place. But clear law-gospel and a history of the Church thus far, are major themes. Even so, it is a book which celebrates the finished work of Christ against the imperfect works of sinners; Christ for sinners, NOT sinners focused on their works.

    I hope that clarifies things… at least as to my position as a strident law-gospel Presbyterian.



  94. Thanks, brother David.

    I appreciate your thoughts.

    I did go back and read James again. And knowing that it is the gospel that is the power of God (Romans 1:16), I had a hard time seeing a lot of that (the forgiveness of sins) in the letter as opposed to seeing quite a bit of law.

    For us Lutherans types, the real freedom is found in the pure gospel.

    “Your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake”. “Go…and sin no more”.

    “The good we do won’t save us and the evil we do won’t condemn us.” – Luther

    I know we won’t agree on all of this stuff. But it is good to have clarity.

    Thank you, friend.

    His blessings be upon you.

    – Steve

  95. Dear Steve

    Without the rest of Sacred Scripture, sure St James can be read as preaching law, far more than Holy Gospel. But what is the hinge of obedience and piety to Christ turn on??? Gospel, not law. Gospel in what St James says then, presupposes the finished work of Christ. The connection between St Paul in Galatians 5 and St James in chapt. 3 could be more clear — and that context would be one of Gospel, in Christ, not of ourselves. When I read St James, I do not dare look at myself. Concerns about legalism and the living to keep the law, then, in my humble opinion would be superficial exegesis of the text. I do happen to believe that Presbyterian “digging” into St James epistle has been expansive in this area.

    But again, if you equate St James use of wisdom as St Paul uses Christ (as wisdom is Christ the Lord) we see St James preaching Christ throughout.

    The difference is St James epistle is not as easily discernible as other books, in term of Gospel, which can be said of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, but it is there. The hinge of the Church is Justification. We also have to remember in chapter 2 of St James we are looking at a different side of faith than that of St Paul in Romans. Understanding that, too, is a huge leg-up.

    I cannot remember all the different reformed commentaries on the book, but there are many, all of them saying the same thing in general. Gospel, Gospel, Gospel. Christ and not us!

    Another thing to remember is what is the law? If the law does not justify nor sanctify, then St James REALLY preaches Christ — for sinners. Has to be that way. Same with the Psalms where Luther discovered the law-gospel of assurance on behalf of sinners. Some of the Psalms are less clear than others, but it is there. Psalm 130 is an easy one, Psalm 88, harder. But it is there.

    There is, too, lots of church history in St James Epistle. That’s part of the whole context of chapt. 3.



    • 1. Thank you both for this gentle exchange. My shaky heart tends to side with Steve – that James is undiluted hard law meat – although I know in my head that it is in the canon ultimately for a ‘grace’ reason, as is Proverbs.
      2. I do remain puzzled why James assumes the gospel but does not first set it out clearly as Paul does. One reason might be that, as with the Syro-Phoenician woman, we are to reach behind the law to find the gospel. Indeed ‘consider it pure joy’ is like that too; when we have been aghast at that notion but its underlying foundational truth then breaks over us, the impact is all the greater
      3. James therefore speaks to a mindset which I rarely but occasionally do have, and when God gives it to me, I can see what I, and heaven, will be like (more clearly that the Mosaic code shows me). I can see that the prescriptions in James are really God’s promises to me of what He will do for me. After all, God’s performative commands (something so alien to our understanding – I can only think of two that we as humans can remotely attempt) do not return to him void
      4. If we really did believe that the law does not sanctify, then we could indeed only see James in that glorious light. But deep down most commentators or preachers believe ‘the Law sends you to Christ, and Christ sends you back to the Law’ and have a 3rd use of the law on these lines. That is why I side with the Lutherans on law-gospel, (though there is even one very prominent, young Lutheran whose nerve seems to fail with James)
      5. Justification by faith might have been nailed 500 years ago, but Sanctification by works still squirms around us

      • Thanks, very much, Richard.

        I do think you are right about the law. It is like the drop of ink in the clear clean glass of water.

        We really ought endeavor to keep that water pure.

  96. *St Paul in Galatians 5, St James in chapt. 3 (connection) could not more clear is what I meant to say above.

    Thanks brother Steve!

  97. David,

    If you could only choose say…6 books of the Bible to give someone to read, which ones would you include?

    I’d go with the some of the gospels, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians.

    The gospel is very pronounced in those books.

    We Lutherans have a canon within the Canon and that is one of the reasons that we don’t have James high on the list.

    I realize that you see it differently, my friend. I will try and look at it (James) through the eyes which you have shared with me lately and see if that makes a difference in how I feel about it. I hope it does.

    God bless you, David!

    – Steve

  98. Steve

    1. kind words indeed! I have always considered myself Lutheran on law-gospel and on the Lord’s supper, but Reformed on (i) predestination as opposed to anything remotely arminian, and (ii) water Baptism – but maybe I just don’t understand the Lutheran position on these

    2. thanks for the stellman link – can you possibly send the url link with your contribution


    ps – Although Galatians is my ‘Katie’ too, my 6 would be Genesis, Job, Matthew, John, Romans and Revelation !!

  99. Richard,

    What contribution (of mine) are you speaking of?

    And, if I made it…it’s probably not worth too much.

  100. I have since found it under, of course, ‘The Old Adam’ and yours are always worth it!

    someone had blogged referring to it, rather like – at the top of this –

    Ivy, on March 29, 2008 at 3:22 pm said:
    I came across your blog via comments you made on one of Michael Spencer’s posts.

    another one for me to check out, providing I can get some time from parallel universes!!

  101. Richard,

    You are much too kind. Once in a while I’ll go back and read a comment I have made and cringe.

    If you want to hear (read) something refreshing, check out some of my pastor’s classes (Pastor Mark Anderson, under the categories section of the blog).

    I think you’ll enjoy a lot of what is there.

  102. Brother Steve Martin

    Saw your comments over at Jason Stellman’s website. Some good clarification on law-gospel, but I must take issue with some of your comments in terms of Lutherians parting ways with Reformed when it comes to assurance and looking “inward.”

    Think you’re describing Puritan theological distinctices, which walked away from confessional reformed norms on assurance and where are righteousness is – at the cross, by the person and work of Christ. I’m an Old School Presbyterian – just and sinful – and I can say Confessionally and personally, I’m not looking inward at all for assurance or righteousness. I’m looking only at the cross – the empty tomb; the right hand of God where CHRIST reigns. Not me!

    Jordan Cooper talks about this a little by using guys like Paul Washer and others – Neo-Calvinists. My advice to you is see such such “reformed” folks as evangelical and not yet able or willing to leave their evangelical moorings and fully adopt confessional, orthodox Reformed/Presbyterian ideas. This is why a law-gospel (just as much reformed as Lutheran) approach to the two moods of Scripture; two kingdoms, and justification having priority over sanctification are either disputed or unknown amidst many Neo-Cals – because their disputed or unknown in evangelicalism.

    As I’m confident you’re aware, evangelicalism – one of its main staples – is looking severely at the self. Yet the Reformed confessions are just as radical in denouncing such a view of assurance and sanctification as the Lutheran are on this point. It’d be good for you to peruse the first and second generation of reformed theologians rather than evangelical laced modern day folks. Calvin. Ursinus. Oleavanus. And many others. You’ll find two consistent themes: law-gospel; and the same doctrine of justification (looking to Christ as our justification and our sanctification) confessional Lutherans adhere too.

    David Beilstein

  103. Hi Brother David,

    I have had some discussions with calvinists in the past, R.S. Clark for one, about assurance and looking inward. He sent me the Westminster Catechism (I believe) after I spoke about our (Lutherans) having real assurance in the External Word and sacraments.

    I read what he sent and sure enough it was right there in black and white and looking inward to examine yourself with resect to knowing if you are one of the elect or not.

    We look to tangible events in our personal history where God acted (acts) for us. Our Baptism. The Lord’s Supper. The hearing of the Word in preaching and teaching.

    We know that we cannot trust in anything that we say, do, feel, or think. So we Lutheran types return to the places where God actually appears in the means of grace for us. In much the same ways the Jews did to places like Shekum, and Shiloah.

    We have a lot in common with the Reformed. But on this issue I do believe that Calvin was a bit off and Luther had it right.

    Thanks, Brother.


    • Steve,

      Well, sorta. But you’re yourself distanced from confessional Lutheran norms – being in line with Forde.

      Still, my objections stand. Severely. if we’re looking at the confessions of Lutheran and confessional reformed/Presbyterian. I’ve talked to R. Scott Clark on the phone for several hours, and also have an email correspondence with him. There is not much difference between confessional Lutheran/Old Side/School Presbyterian issue, concering the objectice work of Christ instead of novel subjective peity, which is unbiblical and a radical depature from Remational orthodoxy. There is some difference in what you’re being taught and confessional Lutheran fealty; and Reformational theology in general. So you’re notion of looking inward could be Scripture simply commanding the elect “making their calling and election sure” (St Peter). The question must be asked, however, what context, theologically and grammatically does such a command by the blessed Apostle represent?

      We cannot keep God’s law. Obvious. But conversion changes the application of that law – to be feared because of condemnation – and instead as a revelation of Hod’s Holy Character and heart which spurns us to desire to obey out of gratitude. This is always and ever biblically defined, seated in the mediation of Word and sacrament ordained by CHRIST – never based upon individual whim. Which was the problem with New England Theology, Edwards, Puritans, etc. And was a huge leap away from the confessional and ecclesial objectivity of CHRIST represented in those dogmatic creeds.

      Furthermore, I read the same confessions as R. Scott Clark; law-gospel; justification having priority over sanctification. It’s simply wrong to argue that just because confessional reformed folk do not follow you and others into Forde’s liberalism that we’re looking at ourselves for assurance. It’s doubly wrong, squared, to assume justification over sanctification erases St Paul’s clear commands of seeking biblical holiness. What’s important is to understand holiness is defined by the bible; is explicated always with a mind of Jude 20, and never arbitrary considered by the whims of men. Seeking holiness in grattitude to the triune God of Holy Scripture is not looking inward for assurance of election or anything else. I think you’re theology is a radical oversteer from Lutheran pietism – which just like Reformed/Presbyterian Pietism – has large problems. At the same time, we should not look to steer at all but be normed with appeal to Sacred Scripture. All of it. Something Forde loses the fight on. That’s not consistent with confessional Lutheran dogma, in appeal to the sacred Scriptures. So I can seek holiness in life out of gratitude and at the same time take no stock in myself or my works as assurance of anything – election or salvation.

      I frankly don’t understand what the hell you’re talking about, brother, to put it aptly.

      – David

      • David hi

        I think you have misread Steve. His post says we are to look to Externals; he says something he received from the Reformed suggested they (they) were looking inward (although they would deny it hotly)

  104. No problem, David.

    Many don’t understand it.

    If you’re not fully and completely free. Then you’re not free.

    – Steve

  105. Just discovered your blog, Steve. Good stuff. Isn’t it amazing to think about what the true gospel is: a gift, no-strings-attached, freedom and love. How amazing!

  106. I think you will find this conversation regarding Biblical Inerrancy interesting:


  107. Steve-
    I’ve seen you in discussions on Liberate blog posts a few times- and have always enjoyed your insight- so I thought I would check out your blog. Wonderful stuff. I am excited to read more of your stuff as it is saturated with Gospel Grace. Looking forward to more dialogue with you. . . are you on twitter at all?


    • Thanks for your kind words, Austin, and for stopping by.

      I’m looking forward to perusing your site. It looks like you are doing good things there.

      I do have a twitter acct. Pudicat11 (not sure if that P is lower case though) is my handle. I don’t do it much so I’m not too swift at it. Tweet me and I’ll follow you (proper jargon??)

      Thanks, friend.

      God bless you!

      – Steve

      • That jargon works for me . . . I am not very social media savvy either ;o) I just find it to be a useful tool swapping links, posts etc.

        Blessings and grace- austin

    • David

      Steve is a very good egg, and I also heartily recommend sermons and classes by his pastor (Mark Anderson) who should have a bigger profile.

      We have no Lutherans here in the UK but I would be a gnesio-Lutheran if I could accept (even understand would be good!) the Lutheran position on the efficacy of water baptism. It seems the same as the Jesuits spraying natives with water hoses to make them believers.

      But I am gnesio in that I stand with Luther against you moderns who hold that even the believer has no free will ! He would turn in his grave

      • ERROR, should read..

        against you moderns who hold that the believer HAS free will

  108. Hi Steve, Sure enjoy your website & listening to Mark’s sermons & classes. Just wondering if these are posted anywhere as a podcast? Would be nice to listen to on the go…. in the car or on a walk on my phone. Thanks!

    • yep, downloaded a backlog (from the top left side of this post under ‘Categories’) and download everthing that comes in (i seems about fortnightly? should it be weekly)

      It is the usual right-click and ‘save target as’ – gives mp3

      I recommend this material very highly – classes and sermons to suit different moods/needs, and very easy style. Supplement with Tullian T’s talks on Liberate.org – more fire but can get a tad ‘same-y’.

      • Thanks Richard. I don’t have the option to ‘save target as’ in my Chrome browser, but do have in Explorer. Weird.

  109. Hi Carol,

    So glad you are enjoying the content here.

    Most of the audio is in mp3 format, so I believe you download into an iPod. I’m able to use earbuds at work and just listen with my iPhone.

    They are not posted anywhere as a podcast, to my knowledge.

    Richard UK (above comments) downloaded a whole bunch of them and he and his wife listen while they are on vacation.

    Maybe he will chime in and give us some tips to how he does it.

    Obviously, I am tech challenged.

    Thank you, friend.

    – Steve

  110. That would be great if someone could tell me how to download them. I right click on the audio, but do not get the option to “save.” Guess I’m tech-challenged too. 🙂

  111. Hi ole pal.
    Looks like we both are still at it, speaking God’s final word “It Is Finished” (with 0 strings attached!) that silences the shouts of the world, flesh & devil’s “Get to work”!!!

    Grace, peace & blessings upon you in Jesus – our Treasure!


  112. Wonderful testimony, Steve! Shared a link to it on Facebook. I can sooooo relate!

    • That’s a striking difference between “evangelicalism” and Christianity, isn’t it?

      So many people today think that “their” testimony consists of how Christ made them less sinful — despite the fact that they (we) sin all the time.

      Don’t get me wrong; it’s great if you beat your wife less than you used to, but your weak, feeble, hypocritical (and likely fraudulent and Pharisaical) example won’t get any sinners into Heaven.

      Jesus called John the Baptizer the “greatest born of women,” and what did John say? “Look to yourselves, and play a part in your salvation!”?

      No, but, “Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!”

      There’s no greater testimony than that.

      (And it’s the only one that’s actually Christian.)

    • That’s a striking difference between “evangelicalism” and Christianity, isn’t it?

      So many people today think that “their” testimony consists of how Christ made them less sinful — despite the fact that they (we) sin all the time.

      Don’t get me wrong; it’s great if you beat your wife less than you used to, but your weak, feeble, hypocritical (and likely fraudulent and Pharisaical) example won’t get any sinners into Heaven.

      Jesus called John the Baptizer the “greatest born of women,” and what did John say? “Look to yourselves, and play a part in your salvation!”?

      No, but, “Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!”

      There’s no greater testimony than that.

      (And it’s the only one that’s actually Christian.)

  113. Thank you, Pam!

    God bless you, friend.

  114. Hi Steve there is a shed load for us to do man. We have the great commision.You are to set the captives free. I do understand He done all to provide every thing for us.

  115. I said us not me :

  116. Hi Steve, newcomer to Lutheran theology here – loving the blog and Pastor Mark’s sermons! I’m looking for a little guidance: what would you say are your top ten Lutheran theology books (excluding Luther’s works and the documents in the BC)?

    • Hello Joel,

      Thanks for popping in. Glad you’re enjoying Pastor Mark’s sermons. His classes are excellent, as well. And a great resource for good Lutheran theology.

      We like Gerhard Forde’s books a great deal. Steven Paulson’s “Lutheran Theology” is also great.

      You can get a lot of what’s in those books in Pastor Mark’s classes. He was a student of Forde.

      There are a lot of other Lutheran theologians…but many of them didn’t go all the way with Luther’s theology, as did Forde.

      Anywho…we appreciate your kind words, my friend.


      – Steve

    • Joel hi

      To affirm and possibly add to Steve’s answer, my move towards Lutheranism (by which I mean Luther’s original thought not as distorted by subsequent pietism) was

      1. Luther’s commentary on Galatians – wordy but pure dynamite. Although controversial, the later catechistic works of Lutheranism (BC etc) depart from Luther in the way that Reformed confessions depart from Calvin – in both cases moving from an ‘affective’ (Jonathan Edwards) to a ‘voluntarist’ view of biblical anthropology

      2. ‘Five views on Sanctification’ in which Forde gives the Lutheran view but also in his response to the Reformed view. Very digestible

      3. Anything else by Forde – from ‘Where God meets man’ (easy) to ‘the Law-Gospel debate’ (fascinating but sufficiently hard to need revisiting)

      4. Steve Paulson’s ‘Lutheran Theology’ (not the junior ‘Armchair’ version). LT is a commentary on Romans but is difficult until you have digested more from 1-3 above.

      5. I have the Roy Harrisville commentary on Romans though it is quite thin, but his audio talks are fantastic as well as being very funny. I wish I could find more than 6 i have which are all too short

      6. And of course Pastor Mark’s talks – either sermons or classes

      I think you can benefit a lot even if, like me, you cannot understand/accept the Lutheran concept of Baptism!! Steve has declared me an honorary Lutheran, even though I have challenged him on/for a Lutheran exegesis of Rom 8 v13 !!

  117. Hello Richard!

    Nice to hear from you, my friend.
    I’m still kicking…albeit much slower.

    I hope you and yours are well.

    Talk to you in a couple of years ( just kidding …hopefully).

    • I’ve really missed your input and have no idea how I dropped out of the loop

      I have been doing lots of reading in the last 2+ years and rejoice more than ever before!!

      (PS – how about starting different threads for diffent topics??)

  118. Curious and seeking. how do you view obedience to God’s word? I would think that would be a natural outpouring of our devotion and love of Jesus

    • There are two different kinds of obedience. Debbie, in the life of the believer.
      There’s the obedience to the law..which no one is up to..for it must be kept perfectly ..including pure motives ( which I’ve never seen in myself..or anyone else).
      And then there’s the obedience of faith. Trusting in Jesus..apart from anything we do.
      The latter is what God is after in us. So much so..that He gives us the very faith that He demands of us.

      Thank you, friend. Great question.

  119. Hi Steve, so glad to have found you on twitter. Thanks for sharing the sound clips of the messages from your pastor. I have been being blessed. The journey of comprehending God’s love to us , to me, in Christ has been a long and difficult one for me, but he continues to give more grace, or that is how I experience it. My story is a long one, and no time or need to tell it. it is probably very similar to many folks I suppose. But thanks again for sharing what you have found! It is blessing me, and clarifying my thinking, and better enabling me to encourage others. I am a grace addict, and I intend to never recover!

    • Thank you, Tom!
      So glad I was able to meet you on twitter..and that you’re being edified and encouraged by the Theology of the Cross.
      May you never, ever recover..but live forever in the feeedom of Christ!

  120. I seem to have lost the sermon by Nestingen at First Lutheran “Baptized into Jesus” . It is missing from the site. Is there any way I may get a copy.. Robert Bogue

  121. Do you have Facebook?

  122. Good morning Steve.
    I am praying all is well with you.
    It was put in my heart early this morning to click on Twitter and the first tweet I saw was your goodnight tweet.
    God Bless you and keep you.
    Hey, and pray for me to be able to be there with you too if you are already there.
    God willing, one day we will meet on that beautiful shore, if not before.

    • Hi Suzanne.
      I’m well thank you. I hope the same for you, my friend.
      Thank you for the blessing and prayers.
      I too look forward to meeting you on that great and glorious Day! And you never know, maybe down here some day.
      I don’t do much on this blog anymore..but use it to access all the sermons and classes that are stored here. Almost all I do these days is on Twitter. God bless and keep you as well, my friend. And thank you again 🙏🏻

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