The One, True Foundation


Ok…fasten your seat belts. The ground just may (hopefully) start to shake a bit:


 Listen to > The One, True Foundation




Thank you, Pastor Mark.


Thanks also to flickr and bjarvike, for the photo.


Don’t be frightened



Don’t be afraid. Don’t get scared and run back into yourself trying to find the assurance of your salvation.

Many have sent me quotations from their confessions that say that we need to look inward for our assurance. I say, “bunk”. What assurance could anyone possibly have by looking at themselves to see evidence that they really are a Christian and are of ‘the elect’?

Abandon that project of ‘the self’ and look to the external Word and sacraments…alone. Don’t put your trust in anything but the finished work of Christ on the Cross for real sinners.

Faith in your faith won’t do it. Faith in your church won’t do it. Faith in your “decision for Christ” or your “evidence” won’t do it.

But faith in God will do it (give you assurance and freedom). Faith in God and trusting in what He has done for you, in real time, in your own personal history, will do it. 

He came to you, He comes to you in your Baptism. A concrete act of crucifixion and resurrection in your own life. Actually DONE TO YOU. 

He comes to you in His Supper. Applying the Cross to you, yet again. Actually putting His body inside of your body and doing His forgiveness to you, yet again. Giving you His very essence. His very life. You can trust in these real, tangible events that happen to you in real time and space. 

He comes to you in your hearing of His preached Word. Real sound waves that carry His Word of law and of promise…hitting your ears and going right into your heart and head.

Don’t go mucking around in the etherial spiritualities of …up there …somewhere. Don’t go foraging around in the dumpsters of your obedience to the law or evidences that you think you see to verify that you really are His. And don’t waste your time with the religious hucksters that will not offer you the assurance and the freedom that Christ so dearly won for you on that bloody Cross, but who instead send you back inside of yourself for evidence.

Go to the font. Go to His table. Listen to His Living Word…actually DONE to you…in your ears and on your skin, and on your tongue.


You ARE a child of the Living God. You CAN KNOW that you ARE SAVED…totally APART from anything that ‘YOU DO’, or anything that YOU SAY, or anything that YOU FEEL, or anything that YOU THINK.


   You truly ARE “FREE IN CHRIST”!





Thanks to flickr and Samara May Knight, for the photo.


Assurance, Baptism



“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”   – Ephesians 2:8


The young man called out of the blue and wanted to talk. The next morning found him in my study, wringing his hands, full of doubt. He had been baptized and grew up in a Lutheran congregation. During his college years, a friend convinced him that his baptism meant nothing and that he must make a free-will decision to accept Christ. The next few years found him in a so-called non-denominational church.

He went on to describe a Christian life, as it had been presented to him, that was a source of chronic uncertainty. It began with the demand that he make a free-will decision. Then, the message he heard continually prodded the will to keep choosing, setting up Biblical principles for living, ladders of spiritual achievement, rules for godly living. The questions poured out of him. Am I doing what God wants? Am I praying often enough? Am I loving enough? Do I have enough faith? Am I sincere in wanting to love God or am I just afraid of judgment? When I die will I have done enough to escape God’s judgment? Am I really a sincere Christian? He had reached his limits. “If the Gospel is Good news”, he remarked, “why do I always feel so unsettled and uncertain?”

After listening to his litany of questions, I replied; “I don’t know you, but I can say with certainty that the answer to all your questions is ‘no’. At the same time, I can say with even more certainty that the answer to your doubts is Christ and what He has done for you. Basing faith on your decision for Christ is a formula for uncertainty. Basing faith on Christ’s decision for you in your baptism plants you firmly in the Gospel.”

What the young man who came to me was discovering is that when we look to ourselves, to what we have done, to our willing, all God will show us is our unwillingness. God deliberately drives us to uncertainty, doubt, despair, or, even worse, to pride. What I hoped he would see is that when we begin with baptism, with God’s decision for us, God shows us the righteousness that is His gift to us by faith, deliberately leading us away from ourselves to the foot of the cross, to the forgiveness that flows from His merciful heart.


“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”



From Pastor Mark’s blogsite:


Any thoughts?


This is Mike McKinley who has just written a new book titled “Am I Really a Christian“.


 What do you think?


How do you know that ‘YOU’ are really a Christian?


In fairness to Mike McKinley, I am putting up this piece that he has written about the subject, so that you can get a better idea of his thinking on the matter.

It’s here:

 Here’s another link that may be helpful in understanding exactly what Mike McKinley means : (provided for us by Jay in the comments section of this post)



  Hat tip to 9Marks blog for this video.


So many different takes.

Baptism by ModernDayGilliganCommunion bread and wine by getfed

There are SO MANY versions of the Christian faith floating around these days.

What strikes me is that when the Sacraments are missing, or when they are misunderstood as to their direction (from us to God instead of the other way around), then the whole thing goes South.

Lot’s of Christians speak of the grace of God. “He is our all in all”.” He has done it all”. “There is nothing we can add”. That is a good thing.  But there is nothing for many of these Christians to grab hold of. Their beliefs inhabit the nebulous territories of heart and mind. Yes, we believe them. But now what? How can we be SURE that they are true, and real, IN OUR LIVES, at this moment?  

It seems that because of the kind of creature that we are, a tactile, tangible, experiential being, our faith must land somewhere. The rubber must meet the road,  somewhere, somehow.

If there’s nothing to grab a hold of that is tangible, that comes to us from outside of ourselves, then we will internalize this desire for solid proof. We will rely on our emotions, our deeds, our thoughts, our knowledge, even our own faith. Welcome to ‘religion’ in the 21st century. Look familiar? It ought to. It’s no different than the religion that humans have practiced for as long as they have been around. It hides behind the pious words and works of those who have no assurance of their salvation, other than what they are able to muster up of their own volition. Then you end up with holiness churches where people are movin’ on up.

 But the external Word, which includes the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, are different. They do not eminate from inside of ourselves and are not dependent on anything that comes from our side of the equation. They are real events that happen in real places with real earthly elements in real time. And the action in these events is not our action, but God’s. His Word is attached to them. Otherwise they just remain earthly elements. And these actions of God are apprehended by the very gift of faith that God also gives to us, in these Sacraments and in the hearing of His Word.

Now we have something that we can HOLD onto. Something that has been given to us with NO strings attached. Something that is REAL…and NOT subject to the winds that blow in and out of our often weak frames, hearts and minds.

We can look at our Baptism and KNOW that the Lord promised to be our God there. He gave us His name, there. He gave us all that Christ is, right there. He rightly judged us guilty and put us to death, there. And He raises us with Christ, right there. Not once, or twice…but day, after day, after day, after day.

 We can look at the Lord’s Supper in the same way. In that meal, Christ Jesus gives us ALL that is necessary. Himself.  His body,  His blood. Broken and shed for the forgiveness of your sins… and in this is your new life, and your salvation.

Now we can give up the religiosity that often characterizes the lives of so many who are looking for proof.

If you want proof, listen to what God has done, is doing, and will yet do…for you. And bathe in the truth of your Baptism… and eat and drink of that proof. And hold onto it. And when you can’t hold onto it, know that He is holding onto you. And that His promises are FOR YOU…no matter how you may happen to feel about the whole thing at the time.

This view of the external Word and Sacraments is not being religious, but it is being a truster, a faither of God’s promises.

Does this make any sense to you? (not that it has to)


Thanks to flickr and ModernDayGilligan, and get fed, for the photos.

How can you have any assurance that you are a child of God?

Baptism…that’s how. 

Check out the great post concerning baptism and the assurance that God wants you to have in yours, over at David’s blog:

  Who does the baptising?

If we do it, then how can we trust in it?

If God does it, then can’t it be fully trusted?

Does anything really happen in baptism, anyway?


Do you feel like you are a Christian and strong in the faith one day…and then the next day or week, you have almost forgotten about Jesus and wonder just how much of a Christian you really are?

Baptism is a topic that often flies under the radar, so we like to bring it out in the open every once in awhile.

Thanks to David over at ‘Five Pint Lutheran’ for bringing it to the fore yet once again.

Here’s another good one on the assurance of your election:

  click here>  The-assurance-of-your-election  


(This is a re-post from a while back).


Don’t take it anymore


Disneyland 2007 029 by KpakoI heard another guy on the radio today urging believers to really get “serious” about their Christian faith. He urged them (us) to give up “milk” for the real “meat” of the Christian faith by “getting busy”. By buckling down and acting serious about being a Christian. And he said, “If you…” at least 4 times. “If you really get serious, you will unlock all the blessings that God has in store for you.” “If you get serious about growing in Christ, you will have a much more fulfilling Christian walk of faith.”

Says who? The guy who reads the Bible like we would read an instruction manual for assembling a lawnmower?

I think he has it exactly backwards. I think that the “meat” of Christianity is realizing that we really are NOT serious about all of this God stuff. And that the only One who is serious about it is… God. Who was so serious that He actually became one of us, and lived down here with us, amongst people who would reject Him, revile Him and eventually kill Him. He was so serious that He forgave His murderers from the cross that they had murdered Him on. He was so serious that He uttered with His last breaths, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Yep… ‘Christian religion’ has it exactly backwards. For the religionist, it is all about OUR seriousness, and our efforts to be  what we ought be, SO THAT we will be more acceptable in the eyes of God…and to PROVE to themselves (and others around them) that they really are believers.

Give me a break. God does not need our seriousness, for He knows it is all a sham. He knows the thoughts and motivations that lie within the hearts of men and women. He knows fully well that if it wasn’t for Himself making believers out of us unbelievers, not a one of us would come to Him.

But He loves us anyway! He wants us anyway! He is after us and He wants to assure us of that fact in His promised Word. And in water, bread, and wine, attached to that Word of promise. 

“If you…”        Forget all that “if you” stuff!   When you hear that kind of talk connected to something that you should, must, or ought be doing to become a better Christian…turn off the radio…leave the Bible study…walk out of the church…because there won’t be any gospel there…only law. Law can’t help you where God is concerned. That is why St. Paul calls it the “ministry of death”. (that’s right – google it)

  God in Christ Jesus loves you. He died for you. He forgives you. He wants you. He will never leave you.  He will raise you from the dead when you need Him to. He has prepared a place for you with Himself.  He has freed you! Not the ‘cleaned up’ you , but the real, sinful, you… the you that really needs a Savior.

 If you would rather live by the “if you’s” and the religious/spirituality/self-focused growth projects… then go ahead. But you are going to rob yourself of the comfort and assurance and rest and freedom that Christ Jesus has ALREADY won for you on that bloody cross. And you are probably going to be so busy with yourself, that you might not have much time for those around you that could really use the help of someone who is available and free to help them.

So, here’s my advice. Chuck all that navel-gazing, Christian self-improvement religion, and trust in what the Living God has already done for you, is doing for you, and will yet do…for you. And realax a little.  And enjoy being what God made you to be in this world, a person… nothing more…nothing less.



Thanks to flickr and Kpako for the photo



‘The Baptism of Jesus’

The Baptism of Jesus by Travis S.

This was not the sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Lent 2011, but it is a Lenten sermon about Holy Baptism.  Yes, “Holy Baptism”.  Baptism is an act that God performs for us, so it is set apart for God’s special purpose, which more than qualifies it to be “Holy”.

Yesterday while driving to church, my wife and I were listening to a radio preacher who has a program called  ‘The Jesus Christ Show’, where he speaks and takes caller’s questions as though he were the person of Jesus Christ. He says things like this, “I walked on the water in order to…”    Anyway, a caller called in to ask about baptism, infant baptism, etc., and this radio preacher proceeded to demolish baptism as an act of God and made the thing into into an act of faith on the part of believer.  Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. This heretic radio preacher proceeded to rob the assurance, that God wants His children to have, right from under them. It was sickening. But hey, that’s what Southern Baptist (non-denominational) preachers do, they turn the whole thing (Christian faith) into a spiritual ladder climbing project that focuses on ‘your faith’, ‘your seriousness’, ‘your feelings’, ‘your whatevers’. It always ends up that way.

Here’s a sermon that explains  Holy Baptism:

                                 click here > The Baptism of Jesus


For those of you expecting to hear yesterday’s sermon, the master (CD) was inadvertantly taken home by a parishoner. Once I get it back, I’ll put it up for you.


If anyone wants to defend heretical forms of baptism such as “believer’s baptism”, feel free to chime in. We may not love heresies, but we love heretics, and we’re always happy to fill you in on what the Bible has to say about these bones of contention that we have together. 

And we are not afraid to do a little theology in order to make the Bible more clear in bringing forth Christ and His great love for sinners. 


Thanks to flickr and Travis S. for the photo.



Quote from Luther on “certainty”

 a by Paul Eade Art


“Let us thank God, therefore, that
we have been delivered from this

monster of uncertainty and that now

we can believe for a certainty that

the Holy Spirit is crying and issuing

that sigh too deep for words in our


And this is our foundation:

The gospel commands us to look, not at our own good deeds or perfection, but at God as he promises, and at Christ himself, the Mediator… .

 And this is the reason our theology is certain: It snatches us away from ourselves and places us outside of ourselves, so that we do not depend on our strength, conscience, experience, person, or works but depend on that which is outside ourselves, that is, on the promise and truth of God which cannot deceive”  ( LW 26:387).



This ought be where we look, whether we be Lutherans, Catholics, Reformed, Baptist, Pentecostal, or whatever.





Can we ever learn to leave it alone (our works), as proof that we “really are Christians”?

Sadly, for many I am sorry to say, the answer is no.





Keep ‘the self’ out of it.

A Reformed Person’s Moment Of HonestyR.C. Sproul by james.thompson

Luther  warns time and time again against finding our assurance or ground on anything within ourselves, be it works or faith itself…all such is not only uncertain but idolatry and apostacy.  Key to this in identifying “works salvation” is not just the rank RC idea of justification or salvation by works, BUT finding one’s assurance and ground (i.e. election, rebirth, conversion, etc…) in works or even faith.  Yet, the Reformed even to this very day say, to quote one directly today about finding one’s assurance of divine election (from an interview on I & E), How does someone know they are elect, “IF you believe these things, THEN you are elect”.  But that denies the reality of Scripture.  As Luther told Erasumus (paraphrased), ‘it matters little, in the conscience where the battle occurs, how many scriptures you marshall in support of your position, I need only find one Word of God to fail it.”  Thus all law and all reason can be over thrown by the same and we have nothing but uncertainty.  Reducing such a “christianity” to false christianity and at length fallen religion with a façade named christianity.

 Then we find an honest but, ironically tragic moment in a open article by a modern Reformed teacher, one whom I dearly love and owe a lot of thanks to in my earlier years as a Christian, Dr. R.C. Sproul.  This I quote not to “pick on” but point out the fatal issue with Calvin and Reformed theology, it ultimately to the best brings nothing but doubt in honest moments when the head is down on the pillow at night.  From an article on, “Assurance of Salvation”, writes (Tabletalk, Nov 1989),

“A while back I had one of those moments of acute self-awareness… and suddenly the question hit me: ‘R.C., what if you are not one of the redeemed?  What if your destiny is not in heaven after all, but in hell?’ Let me tell you that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I was terrified.

“I tried to grab hold of myself. I thought, ‘Well, its a good sign that I’m worried about this. Only true Christians really care about salvation.’ But then I began to take stock of my life, and I looked at my performance. [How come you don’t just look to Christ and His promise in faith?] My sins came pouring into my mind, and the more I looked at myself, the worse I felt. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s really true. Maybe I’m not saved after all.’

“I went to my room and began to read the Bible. On my knees I said, ‘Well, here I am. I can’t point to my obedience…” 

Point of order:  This is odd because it is said that secondary proofs such as obedience and the detection of faith (IF you believe this, THEN you are elect) are foundational towers of Reformed assurance!!!

He finishes,  “…There’s nothing I can offer… I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell… I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation.  

Point of order:  Then how can one know one has faith, Luther’s POINT!  One can’t be sure of one’s own heart and motivation, but I thought “IF you believe these things, THEN you are elect…” to quote Reformed theologians verbatim.  Is that not the warp and wolf of Reformed theology and election, faith is “I believe” rather than “God cannot lie”.  I thought it was this in Reformed religion, “where there is life and salvation, there is forgiveness of sin”, not “where there is forgiveness of sin, there is life and salvation” (Luther).  See how the sacraments cannot help you here in the religion of Calvin and baptist, but then here’s a honest Reformed theologian in a moment of honesty saying, “…There’s nothing I can offer… I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell… I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation.”

 Yet Calvin in one of his more “Lutheran moments” states a very Lutheran sounding concept, “In short, no man is truly a believer, unless he be firmly persuaded, that God is a propitious and benevolent Father to him… unless he depend on the promises of the Divine benevolence to him, and feel an undoubted expectation of salvation” (Institutes III.II.16)

 A lot of “pro me” in that statement!  But according to Calvin and Calvinism at length I can’t rely on the general Gospel for only the elect are truly saved.  At this point a lot of modern Calvinist theologian apologize for Calvin saying some nonesense about him “being highly nuianced”, he’s not highly nuiacnced he is allowing the devil to dictate his theology.  Confusion is the signature of the devil, not God, and “highly nuianced” is just false cover.

 Again, at length I can’t rely on the general Gospel for only the elect are truly saved.  E.g. John 3:16 is of no help to me/one (benevolent TO HIM, pro me) since the “world” is the “elect” in such interpretations.  And we all know that the sacraments don’t actually effect or work regeneration (Reformed/baptist) and there is no real body and blood GIVEN that was shed for YOU FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN.  And again, according to Calvinism there must first be life and salvation before forgiveness of sin is had, not vice versa (IF you believe, THEN you are elect).  After all faith is “I believe” via this religion and not “God cannot lie”.  If “…There’s nothing I can offer… I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell… I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation…” and the general Gospel is ONLY effective for the elect and only sufficient but in the end nothing to the reprobate, and the sacraments do nothing at worse or await faith (at best) which is really the same thing…then there is nothing!

 There really are only two religions in the world, the cross is our theology, and all the others even that which parades itself around as Christian from the most buffoning to the most serious exegetical.

Thanks, Larry!
By the way, I absolutely love R.C. Sproul !
I wish he had more of a Lutheran  understanding of the Sacraments, then he’d have more of the peace that the Lord wants him to have.