I saw this on Facebook yesterday and thought the person who wrote it nailed it.

I don't think he'd mind if I shared it here...


 
The answer to "How do you know you are saved?" will differ between evangelicals and Lutherans. 
Evangelicals will usually answer, "Because I trust in Jesus." Ask them if they know their faith is genuine, and usually there will be talk about evidences of "true faith," or pointing to some feeling. They cannot point to something outside themselves. It becomes a faith in faith. 
The Lutheran will answer: Because Jesus died for me, washed me clean in the Waters of Holy Baptism, forgives me in Holy Absolution, and gives me His Body and Blood for forgiveness in the Eucharist. And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. 
This is a faith in God's Word. Not just God's Word in a general category, but in the specific category of "me" and "you." Jesus died for *me*. Jesus baptized *me*. Jesus absolves *me*. And Jesus gives *me* His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of *my* sins. 
This is most certainly true. 
-- Josh Brisby


So simple, but so profound.

I also like how the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) website and F.A.Q. section addresses this topic for us.


On What Should We Base Our Assurance Of Salvation? 
Q: On what should we base our assurance of salvation? I know the Word and the promises of the Gospel are our rock, but how do we distinguish between real faith and mere intellectual assent? I ask this because many evangelicals make me nervous when they say that if one has doubts about one's salvation, one is probably not saved, because the Holy Spirit is supposed to provide inner assurance. (I guess this ties in to the whole Pietist problem.) But in the face of emotional ups and downs, moral failings, intellectual doubts, and confusion over doctrine, how can one know if one truly has faith in Christ? 
A: Lutherans believe that faith is created and strengthened not by looking inside of one's self (to one's own faith and/or doubts) but by looking outside of one's self (to God's Word and promises in Christ). Therefore, assurance of salvation is to be sought by looking to God's Word and promises in Christ (which create and strengthen the faith through which one is saved), not by looking inward at the strength or weakness of one's own faith (which creates either pride and false assurance or doubt and lack of assurance). Anxiety regarding doubts, strength of faith and certainty of salvation are signs of faith (however weak it may be), not signs of unbelief, since the unbeliever has no concern or anxiety about doubts, faith or salvation. If you would like to study this issue further, I would recommend Martin Chemnitz's book on Justification available from Concordia Publishing House (800-325-3040, stock no. 15- 2186).


I also remember a piece I found on another blog called "9 Reasons That Set Lutherans Apart From Other Protestants" that had this helpful and related section...


5. Christ Focused Justification: Justification is the idea that we are saved by faith alone. It might shock people to hear that this is a point of difference, after all justification was a major point for Luther and just about every protestant tradition believes they take many of their cues on this subject from him. So, yes, on the surface, Lutherans and Protestants would affirm justification by faith through grace, however it does not take long to see that the two groups diverge very quickly. Protestant thoughts on justification would look something like this: "Scripture says believe and you will be saved. I believe. Therefore I’m saved." Lutheranism rather looks at justification in this way: "Jesus says, 'I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.' Jesus is not a liar. Therefore I’m baptized and have newness of life and all the promises Scripture ties to baptism." We can see that these two differ drastically. To Lutherans protestant faith is reflective and too easily can devolve into a reflective faith, that is a faith in one's faith in Christ. Lutherans fear that protestants ultimately do not look to Christ but rather look to their own work of faith. This for the Lutheran will only lead to despair because what happens when the Protestant doubts their salvation or that they have proper faith. Often the Protestant reaction to someone asking whether they are truly saved, is to ask that person whether they exhibit the proper fruit of salvation. Are they living the life of a Christian. As a Lutheran this makes me want to cry because rather then lead frightened and confused people to Christ for assurance of salvation the protestant ultimately leads a person to their own works for assurance. The Lutheran when asked how do you know you are saved replies "I know I’m saved because I’m baptized. It is in the waters of baptism that He has saved me and washed away my sins, given me the Holy Spirit, and has made me beloved child of His, for the sake a Christ and His death for me on the cross."


Of course, I would encourage you to contact your Pastor for more in-depth discussion.

You know you are saved because of all the objective things that are outside of yourself and apart from your own subjective feelings and thoughts.

Christ's death and resurrection for you assures you that He did (and continues to do) all the work to secure your salvation.

God's Word assures you that He says what He means and means what He says to inform your faith and to secure your salvation.

The Lord's Sacraments assure you that He continues to do everything He promised (and promises) to do for you to secure and strengthen your salvation.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, you know you are saved because of Jesus Christ, because of His Word, because of His Sacraments (your Baptism!), and because His promises for you, which you can trust always!



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Lord, have mercy!

ANOTHER
terror attack in France today as ISIS murderers slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest during a church service and right in front of his parishioners!

You wanna know the key differences between the so-called "Religion of Peace" and the only religion that confesses and preaches the true "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6)?

There are many, actually, but only a few that really matter and will tell you all you need to know.

 
"A true 'Religion of Peace' bows the head, exposes the neck, and says, 'Do your worst.' A 'Religion of Evil' holds the knife." -- Rev. Gaven Mize 

"World, death, devil, hell, away and leave me in peace! You have no hold on me. If you will not let me live, then I will die. But you won’t succeed in that. Chop my head off, and it won’t harm me. I have a God who will give me a new one." 
-- Martin Luther


The violence in Islam's holy book is "prescriptive" for all faithful followers today (2:191-193; 2:244; 2:216; 3:151; 4:74; 4:76; 4:89; 4:95; 4:104; 5:33; 8:12; 8:15-16; 8:39; 8:65; 9:5; 9:29; 9:123; 17:16), while the kind found in Christianity's is merely "descriptive" instead (or is restrained by the historical context of the surrounding text).

So, one religion expects its faithful to kill non-believers who won't covert, while the other religion expects its faithful to pray for those who aren't believers (Matthew 5:39; Matthew 5:44-45; Romans 12:19-20).

As a result, one religion uses the sword that can kill the body but not the soul (Matthew 10:28), while the other religion uses the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17) and "the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

In short, one religion's followers will kill for what they believe in, while the other religion's followers will die for what they believe in...just as we saw plain as day with today's tragic event.

What Franz Pieper wrote in 1901 immediately following the assassination of U.S. President William McKinley is still true some 115 years later and following this latest horrific attack: "All people, but especially Christians, should recognize that the murderous spirit, which brought about this horrid murderous act, resides in every human heart and therefore must be acknowledged and fought. He who knows our heart described it this way (Mark 7:21-23): 'For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within.' So it is with every heart, also with every American heart. And it does not merely remain a matter of thought. The murderous spirit is so evident in word and deed that it is hard to comprehend."

Yes, Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind -- me, you, and even Islamic terrorists (or those who torture and kill His own people), and so we turn to God in humble prayer in times like these.

As Rev. Joshua Scheer put it, "God restrain or convert the murderous 'Turk.' Amen. God restrain or convert all who teach falsely in His name. Amen."



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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One of the things I never heard before I became a Confessional Lutheran was this idea that Christianity is about teaching us how to suffer and die well.

What!?! Hold on a minute and pump the brakes a bit! What in the world is that supposed to mean? Who in their right mind wants to suffer in this life let alone die anytime soon?

While I completely understand those sentiments (because, after all, I am a human being myself), we need to remember what Scripture tells us about both suffering and dying.


Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV) And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Job 1:20-21 (ESV) Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

Psalm 34:19 (ESV) Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Matthew 10:38-39 (ESV) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Romans 5:3-4 (ESV) Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

Romans 8:18 (ESV) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:35 (ESV) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Galatians 6:2 (ESV) Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Philippians 1:29 (ESV) For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

Philippians 3:10 (ESV) that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

1 Peter 3:14-17 (ESV) But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

1 Peter 4:1 (ESV) Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

1 Peter 5:10 (ESV) And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (ESV) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV) For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

Revelation 21:4 (ESV) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.


Just a handful of examples, but this is the reality we must all face.

Of course, we can't read those without also reading Matthew 11:28-30 (rest for the soul), Mark 16:1-8 (hope in the Resurrection), John 3:16-21 (Jesus gives life), John 6:40 (assurance), John 10:27-29 (assurance), John 20:1-18 (hope in the Resurrection), and Revelation 7:9-17 (the Last Day).

As Living With Dying reminds us, "We give to God our burdens: sin, worry, loss, heartache, sickness. We also look to Him to supply our needs: forgiveness, increased faith, guidance, strength, relief, healing, patience, peace."

You might think I'm "preaching to the choir" here, but I can assure you that there are a lot of Christians out there right now who may find it hard to accept or to believe that suffering is to be an expected part of a believer's life.

Furthermore, those same people can't even stand to bear the thought of possibly going through anything like watching a loved one slowly die if not experience a slow and agonizing death themselves.

However, we Christians are not immune to any of that in this life, but we are immune to "the wages of sin" since we are promised in Romans 6:23 that "the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Still, for whatever reason, so many of us will go through life acting as though these realities and these promises will never apply to us? It's as if we are faithful, steadfast Christians who have memorized all the key verses of the Bible, but only until the rubber meets the road, and then we become hopeless by taking our eyes off of Jesus Christ and what He's already done for us upon the cross, and placing them upon our fast-changing circumstances and feelings instead.

Look, I get it. It's a current struggle for me as well every now and then. I'd be willing to be that it's an ongoing struggle for each and every one of us if we're being honest.  


Our thoughts are more about dying than about death. We’re more concerned about how we shall face dying than about conquering death. Socrates mastered the art of dying, Christ overcame death as eschatos echthros (1 Cor. 15:26). Being able to face dying doesn’t yet mean we can face death. It’s possible for a human being to manage dying, but overcoming death means resurrection. It is not through the ars moriendi but through Christ’s resurrection that a new and cleansing wind can blow through our present world. 
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Letter to Eberhard Bethge—March 27, 1944” in Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 8: Letters and Papers from Prison, edited by John W. de Gruchy, translated by Isabel Best et al (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 333.

The aim of the philosophical doctrine of immortality is to make dying easy, but the doctrine of the resurrection takes death with complete seriousness. The natural man’s dread of death is not chased away by the consolations of philosophy. 
-- Hermann Sasse, “Jesus Christ is Lord: The Church’s Original Confession” in We Confess Jesus Christ, translated by Hermann Sasse (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1984), 19.


Rev. Arron Gust is Vice President of the Central District of the Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) and he recently published a piece in response to Canada's new law that allows citizens the legal right to kill themselves.

It's something for us to prayerfully consider in light of this topic today.


 
Good News To Proclaim! 
Recently the government of Canada passed bill C-384, a bill which allows Canadians the legal right to kill themselves. Interestingly, people on both sides of the issue remain upset. Those in support of physician-assisted suicide are upset because they feel the bill does not go far enough; those opposed continue to argue any legalization on the issue is immoral. 
These are, of course, gross oversimplifications of the many concerns people hold on both sides, but as Christians who hear the Good Shepherd we have a Good Word to proclaim in the midst of these discussions. 
You see, when all is said and done, what lies at the heart of the debate are people’s fears. Fear of suffering, fear of death, fear of not being in control—fears which are amplified in the absence of hearing, knowing, or trusting the Words of the Good Shepherd. 
Now, I don’t know anyone who would rationally want to suffer or intentionally go through the hardships of a debilitating disease, but the Good Shepherd reminds us it is not our decision to end our life or the life of another—a life which He Himself redeemed with His own death and resurrection. 
Psalm 23 teaches us something very interesting about the Good Shepherd, and that is He does not remove us, nor take us around the valley of the shadow of death, but He leads us through it. 
In the same way the Father used the suffering and death of His Son Jesus Christ to bring us forgiveness, life, and salvation. He can, will, and does work through our sufferings, as we confess what the Good Shepherd has done for us, in this valley of tears and joys called life. 
In the days leading up to the passing of bill C-384 Josh Paterson of the BC Civil Liberties Association said in an interview with CTV he was worried that if this bill does not pass, “people would have to take their lives in an unsafe way!” The last time I checked taking one’s life is never safe. 
Dear baptized friends, this is our moment to speak up and confess to our neighbours and those going through these tremendous battles of suffering the Good News God’s baptized children take for granted every day. To speak up and say there is no safe way to end your life… but there is a safe way to die. And that is to die in Christ, to die in the Good Shepherd, to trust His baptismal gift of death and resurrection as the only safe way through death. As He leads us through this valley of the shadow of death, He will grant the grace to accept our afflictions—all the way into life everlasting. 
Upon the cross Jesus became sin for us. His death is our death. And the open, empty tomb is a testimony that death has lost its sting; the grave has been vanquished. 
This is the only Good News we are given to proclaim. It is the only news that will open the ears of those sheep who are not hearing the Good Shepherd’s voice, the voice which promises that nothing in this life—not disease, nor pain, nor suffering—can snatch you out of His hand.


Yes, we have "good news to proclaim!" to ourselves and the rest of the world!

Assisted Suicide. Euthanasia. Mercy Killing. All of it is a direct violation of the 6th Commandment, is it not? Ironically, a majority of Christians that I know are definitely anti-abortion, but the strange thing is how they are pro-assisted suicide, pro-euthanasia, and pro-mercy killing.

My guess is that it's because the topic hits a little too close to home for many. This tells me that we need to spend more time having a conversation about these issues within the Church.

Thankfully, the LCMS has a wonderful free resource called "Mercy At Life's End: A Guide For Laity And Their Pastor" by Rev. John T. Pless that can definitely help with this.

In fact, here's a sample from the opening pages...


Christians are increasingly confronted with situations where they must make decisions concerning appropriate medical care when life appears to be ending. A variety of factors might complicate the decision-making process. In some cases, pastors may find themselves dealing with families where poor decisions have been made under the emotional stress of the moment. In other cases, family members are in disagreement and conflict over what is deemed an appropriate course of action. This booklet is offered with the hope that it will be of assistance to both pastors and Christian laity in thinking biblically about how to demonstrate the mercy of the Triune God to those to whom death draws near within the boundaries that our Creator has established and hallowed by His Word. 
The booklet is envisioned to have multiple uses and multiple audiences. For instance, the booklet might be used in whole or in part by a pastor as he counsels those who are confronted with crucial decisions about medical treatment and care for themselves or their loved ones. Here the booklet provides some guidance in “asking the right questions” when these decisions need to be made so that we always aim to care, not kill. Another potential use for this booklet might be in adult Bible class. It is prudent that pastors help their people think through end-of-life issues in advance. Chronic illness, tragic accidents and other circumstances where death seems imminent can cloud clear thinking. With emotions rubbed raw, decisions can be made too hastily. Christians will desire to make decisions about life and death that are in accord with God’s Word, rather than those that might be driven by fear or an unbiblical notion of what constitutes compassion. It is a good thing to think through the basis and boundaries of end-of-life decisions before we find ourselves at the hospice or in the intensive care unit. 
This book grows out of my work as a pastor and, more recently, as a teacher of pastoral theology and theological ethics at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. Teaching future pastors and deaconesses who will regularly confront these issues has given me an opportunity to think more deeply about how we are to faithfully speak both God’s Law and Gospel in the face of death. Pastor Peter Brock, formerly a student and now the pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Bingen, Ind., has been a long-standing conversation partner in matters of ethics and pastoral theology, especially as these disciplines relate to the end of life. I am grateful for these conversations, which reach back to his student days, and I trust he will see something of them in these pages. 
Maggie Karner, director of LCMS Life and Health Ministries, proposed this project. Maggie’s patience and encouragement have enabled me to bring this booklet to completion. Dr. Kevin Voss of the Concordia Bioethics Institute at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., has offered insightful suggestions that have greatly improved this work. I am thankful for the assistance and advice of these colleagues, but I take the responsibility for any deficiencies herein. 
Mercy at Life’s End is offered to the church in these days of Easter with the prayer that our risen Lord will make good use of it to extend the light of His Gospel to all who walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that they might trust in Him alone and be brought with joy to the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. 


"This is most certainly true."

You can also find additional resources through the "Life Ministry" section of the LCMS website that I pray will deliver you the "peace of God, that surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).

Better yet, please take a few more minutes to check out this sermon from Rev. Matt Richard called "Through The Vale Of Tears" in which he reminds us...


We live our lives, as Christians, in the valley of tears. Yes, we Christians live our lives in the valley of tears, or as they poetically say, in this vale of tears. 
The phrase, “vale of tears,” is a phrase that is often used to describe the tribulations of life that we Christians all experience in the here and now. In other words, from the time of your conception until your death, you and I, travel and labor through this valley of life – a valley that is characterized by tears, trouble, and sorrow. Indeed, we live, breathe, and have movement not on top of the mountains, but more often than not, within this valley of tears. 
Considering this valley of tears, it is a valley that is dark. It contains hardships, suffering, loss, grief, persecution, and pain. It is a valley that is clouded with gloom, where we experience the attacks of the devil, the struggles with the sinful nature, the persecution of the world, and the sting of death itself. 
For us as North Americans though, we like to pretend that our lives are not in this valley of tears. That’s right; we like to avoid the valley of tears at all costs. It makes us uncomfortable and it goes against our ingrained view of entitlement. So, we try to make peace with the darkness of the valley. We try to turn the lemons of the valley into lemonade. We convince ourselves that we are overcomers. We say, “When we get knocked down, we get up again.” And then when we stand as supposed overcomers, we look into the dark valley of tears and we roar as if we are invincible. 
We also buy every kind of gadget that promises to take us from the valley’s tears to happiness – every gadget that promises us an easier life. We are suckers when it comes to those infomercials with their three easy payments. Then with all of our gadgets we also run to positive messages that don’t remind us of the valley of darkness that we are in. Oh, and don’t forget death! We do everything possible to sanitize the effects of death. Plastic surgery can fix dying skin that sags on our faces, makeup covers the wrinkles of age, Rogaine attempts to reverse hair lose, and medication can temporarily reverse the effects of disease. We all dream that we can be like the Joneses down the street who have apparently overcome the valley of tears. 
All this stated though, no matter how hard we try to climb out of the valley of tears or deny it, there is no escape – the valley’s walls are too steep and the valley is too dark. No matter how hard we wipe away the tears, they keep flowing – they keep flowing until our last dying breath. In this life, the devil continues to attack, our sinful flesh always longs to sin and wreak havoc in our lives, and the world continues to spew forth lies. There is no bottom to this stuff.


His description of daily life is more sobering than mine for sure and his message of hope for us is more poignant as well.


As for the time being and as we continue to walk through the valley of tears, you Baptized Saints must cling to the promises of God’s Word – the promises that are for you. Continually receive the Sacrament of the Altar – that is given and shed for you. Remember your Baptisms – where God’s name was placed upon you. Patiently endure any misfortune, comforting yourself with the truth that the Lord is with you in His Word and Sacraments. Comfort yourself with Jesus’ Word that this life is only a ‘little while.’ Know that as tough as it gets in this life that the Lord holds not only the beginning but the end of this world. 
Do not grow weary and do not grow faint in this valley of tears, for the Lord grants power to the faint and increases the strength of those who have no strength. 
Wait for the Lord and rest dear Saints – the Lord holds you. The day is coming that the valley of tears will end and all things will be made anew. Lift up your chins, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. Do not fear the drops of tears from your eyes, for the Lord will not cast you aside. Sadness lasts only ‘a little while’ and then will change into gladness. All grief will be swallowed up in the end and pain will be remembered no more. 
In the name of Jesus Christ: Amen.


Hopefully, all of this has brought you some measure of comfort and peace, which the world cannot give you, and pointed you back to God and the promises found in His Word during your discomfort and pain in both life and the nearness of death.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, dead or alive, whether currently suffering or not, there is victory in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and He has already won it for you, which you receive as eternal life through faith in His suffering, His death, and His and resurrection for the sins of all mankind.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Unless I'm way off base with my basic translating skills (and have completely forgotten how to perform an accurate Google search!), I believe the English word "quote" (used as a noun as in "a quote") is translated to "zitat" in German.

That will help to explain the strange "Z" word listed in the title of this post. 
That being said, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for good quotes of a distinctly "Lutheran" flavor that encourage prayerful consideration and a deeper study of God's Word, His Sacraments, Christ's Church, and our Lutheran Confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Plus, it certainly helps me in my on-going journey from American Evangelicalism to becoming a Confessional Lutheran. 
Here's the latest...


 
Whenever guilty consciences are directed to the inner life for certainty of salvation, faith is immediately in jeopardy, because the Spirit's work inside the Christian is always hampered by the sinful nature. Our sinful nature, St. Paul wrote, has not a single inclination toward good: "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh" (Romans 7:18). On the other hand, when faith is held to have no connection with life and the sanctifying power of the Spirit is denied, God's gift of grace is robbed of its power. Thus James can conclude: "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26). The danger of seeking security in the inner life has been uppermost in Lutheran thinking ever since the age of Pietism, for Pietists elevated the importance of the sanctified life to central place. The rampant subjectivism and emotionalism of the Pietists was inimical to the heart of the gospel. They exchanged the "alien righteousness" of Christ for the inherent righteousness of the believer as the basis of hope for everlasting life. The Christ FOR ME was rejected as a relic of dead orthodoxy in favor of the dynamic work of the Christ IN ME. The invisible verdict of justification coram Deo ("before God"), whereby God declares us not guilty for the sake of Christ, was set aside in favor of the visible work of sanctification in the life of the Christian. 
-- "Sanctification: Christ In Action" By Rev. Harold L. Senkbeil (pp. 113-114)


This is most certainly true.


The That was an excerpt from an excellent book written by Rev. Dr. Harold Senkbeil that I just picked up (thanks Rev. Jordan Cooper!).

I haven't spent much time with it yet, but I can already assure you that it's PERFECT reading material for an ex-Evangelical like me as well as any "Lutherans-In-Name-Only" or Billy Graham and Chuck Swindoll fans that you might know in your life.

Come to think of it, this book should be viewed as "Required Reading" for any Christian regardless of the denomination they belong to who has somehow been taught to place the Doctrine of Sanctification on par with or over and above the Doctrine of Justification.

They are not the same thing at all and the former is certainly not more important than the latter let alone the believer's primary focus in this life!

And yet, millions of Christians around the world have been seduced by the sweet-sounding lie that they might not really be a Christian unless their life shows crystal clear evidence of X, Y, and Z despite the fact that Scripture reiterates over and over again that we are both saints and sinners simultaneously.


1 John 1:8 (ESV) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.


Yes, that letter was written to other Christians. Pretty straightforward, huh?

In a Lutheran layman's terms, God is not to be found in the subjective feelings of the heart let alone in our our sinful lives, but He is always to be found in the objective Word and Sacraments where He has promised to be.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Go to any beach or park this Summer and you're sure to find some kind of "Caution" or "Warning" sign attempting to alert you to the very real dangers that exist that could mean the difference between life and death for you and for others.

If only our churches and schools were as pragmatic and wise! I mean, the Lord tells us quite clearly that it only takes "a little leaven" to ruin the whole batch of dough (Galatians 5:9) so you'd think we'd be extra careful when it comes to entrusting our children and grandchildren to anything at all with a "Christian" label that could impact not just their impressionable hearts and minds, but also their very souls.

Hyperbole? Sensationalist?

We also know that God warns us through that same holy Word to expect that Satan is just looking for any opportunity to pounce on us at all times.


1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.


Carrying the analogy I started one step further, perhaps it's best to think of this verse in light of the time of year we find ourselves in, and maybe we'd take it much more seriously if Satan were depicted here as a bloodthirsty shark instead of a roaring lion.

Regardless, the point is that we believers should never let our guard down since the reality is that "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" and "so it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

The cold hard truth is that even Christians who are extremely active in Youth Ministry could be causing great spiritual harm without even knowing it! No, "good intentions" is not enough, because sincerity does not automatically equal Biblical truth, passion and volume does not automatically mean you are doctrinally sound, and we all know that "The Road To Hell Was Paved With Good Intentions."

Where am I going with all of this?

Well, it wasn't too long ago when I attempted to point out the dangers with many Graduation Day speeches (and gifts) from Christians to other Christians. Hopefully, all of my fellow Lutherans who are reading this today survived that time of year.

Now, the Summer is well underway, which means that you yourself, your kids, or your grandkids will likely be attending a Vacation Bible School or a Christian Camp And Retreat Center (if you haven't already).

Thanks to some things a couple of Pastors shared in recent days, I feel obligated to provide you with the following Public Service Announcement to help you prepare for the "potential" dangers that lie ahead. Consider this your "Caution" or "Warning" sign for this Summer.

First, Rev. Todd Wilken shared this profound statement the other day...




Second, Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller created and shared this handy checklist titled "How To Tell If You're Being Emotionally Manipulated By A Youth Speaker" that can be used not just during these Summer months, but year round.

In case you're wondering what all the fuss is about, then I would strongly encourage you to spend some time with one or all of the following resources for an honest and eye-opening look at so-called "Youth Ministry," "Youth Groups," and "Youth Pastors" within Christianity.


 
An Honest Look At Youth Ministry, Youth Pastors, And Youth Groups 
VIDEO: The Truth About Youth Group 
VIDEO: 10 Kids You Meet At Every Youth Group 
VIDEO: Playing The God Card 
VIDEO: The Top 15 Youth Group Cliches 
VIDEO: The One About Missions Trips 
'Youth Led Worship Services': Who Gets To Define Worship? 
Relevancy Fail: 'Harlem Shake' - Christians Losing Control 
Millennials, Religion, And Confessional Lutheranism


I get that you might think that your way of doing Youth Ministry is "better" than most, but these are serious issues that cross denominational lines.

Besides, is ministry (a.k.a. doctrine and practice) supposed to be defined by you and the youth in Christ's Church or by God through His Word?

As one Lutheran Pastor said in his sermon addressing this topic, "pizza is great, but it isn't the Gospel!" So, give 'em the Gospel, which is the only "food" that can nourish and save their souls (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4; Romans 10:17)!

Yes, I realize that there will be some of you who will read this who will take issue with those Pastors and even me for taking a stance like this primarily because you yourself are involved in Youth Ministry somehow or perhaps since you had a much more positive experience with it.

However, please try to put your presuppositions aside and prayerfully consider the Biblical case that was made here today. We have to be honest and willing to talk about this. It's definitely not an easy thing to do within the current climate where the 11th Commandment of "Thou Shall Not Offend" reigns supreme even despite what God's Word has to say about things.

Ok, so where do we go from here then?


"Properly teaching vocation will go a long way in supporting home catechesis."

***************************************************

"Lastly, stop and ask yourself what you believe about justification. If you truly don’t believe you can manipulate someone to faith, then stop acting as if you can. Stop the bait and switch tactics that are present in youth groups and adult small groups alike. Focus Sunday mornings on preaching the proper distinction between law and gospel, sin and grace, repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Cater Sunday service and youth ministry activities around teaching these things to the believers that are present. Sunday morning is not for the unbeliever, but for the believer. Focus on continually equipping believers to receive Christ’s gracious gifts so that they can leave service and serve their families and neighbors."


Doesn't seem all that difficult, does it?

We have to start somewhere though and there's no better place than in our own homes.

But please don't misunderstand me either.

What would be the wrong response to this attempt at having a serious discussion with our brothers and sisters in Christ after peeking behind the curtain that's hiding and protecting Youth Ministry and everything that's associated with it?

That's an easy one.

The wrong response would be to do nothing and to simply take an apathetic approach and say something like, "Well, we already do catechesis in our home, so I'm not worried at all about the Youth Ministry program at our church, and neither should anyone else even if I agree with all the legitimate points you made." Believe me, sadly, I know far too many people who will respond that way!

Instead, we must continue to do what we can to take an honest look at Youth Ministry, Youth Pastors, and Youth Groups and be willing to bring this subject up for discussion in our own church, if necessary.

Let's not forget that the whole concept of Youth Ministry and everything that goes along with it is intricately tied to the so-called "Church Growth Movement" and we've already seen what a colossal and utter failure that has been.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, be on guard this Summer, because spiritually speaking, Jaws has nothing on the run-of-the-mill Youth Groups and Youth Pastors!



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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I'm well aware that a strong case has already been made to suggest that Science and Religion are NOT compatible despite what many people polled (both religious and non-religious alike) might think.

Still, I'd like to take a moment to highlight one prominent example where they are compatible, especially since I found the discovery to be so fascinating myself.

If nothing else, perhaps it can be something you can stick in your back pocket and pull out only as an apologetics tool whenever some hostile Atheist, Agnostic, or Apostate Christian comes at you looking for a fight.

We start by reminded ourselves that the Word of God encourages us to always seek the truth...


Proverbs 25:2 (ESV) It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.


That being said, this isn't going to be a distinctly "pro-Religion" or a "pro-Science" piece (there are enough of those types of articles), but rather a collection of a few comments about an observation pertaining to Genesis 1:1-3.

Back to Proverbs 25:2 for just a moment before we continue. I thought about that verse a lot this week and reminded myself that being a Christian does not automatically mean that I should be "closed-minded" about the natural world in which I live.

Sure, there are many things about this universe that God Himself chose to reveal to us through His Word, but there are also many things about this universe that He has chosen to remain hidden from our finite understanding.


Deuteronomy 29:29 (ESV) The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.


We need to be ok with that.

In other words, it's one thing to want to ask questions and perform experiments to better understand how God's creation actually works, but another thing entirely to want to obtain that knowledge so you can somehow refute the awe and power of our Creator as if to imply that you are just as omniscient and omnipotent as He is.


Ecclesiastes 11:5 (ESV) As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.


Once again, some things are meant for us to discover and know and others simply aren't, because we're not God and we're not supposed to be just like Him either.

I'm ok with that and you should be too.

It's like the latest controversy that's dominated social media that's not of a social or political nature. I don't know about you, but my Twitter feed has been F-L-O-O-D-E-D (pun intended) with #FlatEarth material lately!

Have you heard of this? Yes, there's an actual, legitimate, serious debate underway around the world right now about whether or not the earth is, in fact, a globe/sphere or if it's actually flat as humanity originally believed from the beginning.

By extension, a related discussion surrounds the question of whether or not the Sun is really at the center of our universe (the "Heliocentric Model") or if the Earth is at the center (the "Geocentric Model") just as humanity originally believed from the beginning.

Plus, there's even some intense discussion about the legitimacy of NASA and their key role in the whole thing (and this does not have to involve any kind of "Moon Landing Hoax" either)!

I know, I know, how can any "sane" adult, much less a Bible-believing Christian like me who's a Confessional Lutheran, ever dare to mention any of this in any piece of writing and still maintain any shred of credibility?

I mean, isn't this precisely the type of thing that non-believers are always waiting for so that they can pounce, point a finger, and immediately assert something like, "See, I knew you Christians were crazy! You believe in myths and fairy tales while blatantly rejecting scientific proof that's accepted by the majority! Why should put our faith in anything you say about your precious Bible, much less put our faith in a 'Savior' named 'Jesus' when you don't even believe in gravity, that the planet is a ball, that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and that NASA has been to space? How absurd and further proof of our intellectual superiority over you neanderthal Christians!"

To which I would simply reply with...


 
Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Jeremiah 10:11-13 (ESV) Thus shall you say to them: " The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens." It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Jeremiah 51:15-17 (ESV) It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them.

Proverbs 17:24 (ESV) The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

1 Corinthians 1:20-21 (ESV) Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (ESV) But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 2:6-8 (ESV) Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

1 Corinthians 3:19-20 (ESV) For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile."


Again, just a few Bible verses that come to mind to use as a possible response to people who would say something like that.

Look, I get it. I really do. Come to think of it, other Christians may not be as inquisitive or open to having a debate like this like I am, and that's just fine too. Besides, it's not like I'm saying that I have firmly planted my flag in any of those camps either (not yet at least).

I'm just open to some debate, because I don't think merely asking questions in search of the truth is "bad" or "wrong" per se. I think it's healthy and keeps us on our toes too.

More importantly, don't be alarmed, you have nothing to worry about, because this isn't supposed to a piece about the merits (or lack thereof) such a so-called "Conspiracy Theory" or is it even a study on the "Geocentric vs. Heliocentric Universe" either although I will say that I'm very intrigued by the little bit of "evidence" I've read and seen as presented in a post titled "Copernicus And The Church, Lutherans And The Missouri Synod" and in a book called "The Book Nobody Read: Chasing The Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus" by Harvard Astrophysicist, Owen Gingerich, which I just purchased and started reading.

Instead, I thought I'd write a brief post today about a single case that demonstrates the COMPATIBILITY between Christianity and science after coming across it myself.

Believe it or not, the very first book of the Bible -- the very first verses! -- are full of scientific fact!

The way I like to describe it is to say that science simply confirms what God's Word already teaches us (or has taught us). The truth is there, but our fallen, rational, sinful minds always insist on getting in the way of the truth by proposing various "scientific theories" as though they were settled "scientific facts" that we just need to accept.

Might we say that believing what science tells us takes much more faith than believing what the Lord tells us? I think we can.

Take, for instance, everything from creation to conception to life and death and everything in between and I think it becomes clear that where the Bible gives us bold truths that are more than just fanciful assertions of a long-forgotten time and place, science often gives us bold lies that change as often as those who are born with the ability and audacity to think up such new concepts to present as truth.

However, and to reiterate, please understand that this does not mean that this is always the case. As previously mentioned, Christians should never just automatically reject science, because there can be times when Christianity and science are compatible.

Let me demonstrate what I mean.


Genesis 1:1-3 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.


Now, check this out! This is pretty cool!

Keep in mind that those verses were written thousands of years ago.

Fast forward to the present day. Modern Science expresses the known universe in 5 terms -- Time, Space, Matter, Power, and Motion, right? Ok, so let's look at those first three Bible verses again.

If we look closely, we'll CLEARLY see that the science has merely confirmed what we already knew from the Holy Bible containing the very Word of God!

Here, I'll show you what I mean exactly by assigning the corresponding scientific term to the corresponding words from these verses...


"In the beginning (TIME), God created (POWER) the heaven (SPACE) and the earth (MATTER)...And the Spirit of God moved (MOTION) upon the face of the waters."


Isn't that absolutely breathtaking? Doesn't that just say it all? Glory be to God!

How could anyone deny truth like this contained in the Word of God -- the first few verses no less -- and then later reject the deity and reality of Jesus Christ (and the rest of the active, holy, living Word)?

Of course, we know the answer to that question. It's the same answer that explains how some self-professing Christians do not believe that Genesis 1-3 actually describes real events.


It is obvious that the theory of evolution totally dominates scientific thinking today. Very few scientists believe the account of creation in Genesis 1-3. In fact, most of them would ridicule it as unbelievably naive. Almost all science books present the theory that man evolved from lower life forms as a proven fact. This rejection of creation is not very surprising since sinners have been in rebellion against their Creator ever since Adam and Eve fell into sin. They have even been suppressing the knowledge of the Creator which is revealed in nature (Romans 1:18-25). What is surprising, however, is that so many Christian churches today deny the Bible's account of creation. Even many Lutherans have chosen to follow the world's theory of evolution, rather than believe the account of the origin of mankind which is given in Scripture.


That's another story though and one we've already addressed.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, there's no reason for a Christian to instinctively reject science just as there's no reason a scientist cannot believe that Christianity holds the answers to the questions science cannot satisfactorily address. 



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


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