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What Luther Says

Why Did Jesus Come? Jesus Came To...

It pains me to admit this publicly, but the Christmas services at my church went a little something like this...

"Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to change the world."

"Why did Jesus come? He came to bless your life now, and change your eternity later."

"Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to share your life with you."

"Why did Jesus come? Jesus came so that we can live our life with God, and He with us."

"Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to give life meaning."

"Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to bring a new blessing into our relationships with one another."

"Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to give us a divine gift to renew our lives and everything in them."

What!?! No, no, no! Is of all of that really why Jesus came? Is any of that really the true Gospel of Jesus Christ? Yes, I'm afraid those are all actual quotes preached as Gospel truth from the pulpit.

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (ESV) 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV) 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Keep in mind that the services were delivered by an LCMS Pastor who has been in ministry for 50 years. In other words, he should know better, shouldn't he? And yet, his Christmas sermons smelled a lot like a mega-mix of Rick Warren and Joel Osteen's brand of ear tickling trash (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

After writing down the above quotes, I began to notice another theme aside from preaching a false gospel. I started to hear the word "change" quite a bit in reference to all sorts of things.

You wanna know what I didn't hear at all though? The words "sin" and "sinner" couldn't even make a single appearance this past Christmas! The star of our Christmas services wasn't Jesus Himself, or salvation from sins, but C-H-A-N-G-E and Y-O-U and how the two go hand-in-hand.

(***SARCASM ALERT***) It makes sense though. I mean, we are in a state of "change" and "transition" ourselves at my church right now while we're searching for a new Pastor, and we wouldn't want to do anything to offend any potential new members who were visiting us for the first time (***SARCASM ALERT***).

How heartbreaking though. Personally, I left there feeling sorry for the handful of people I noticed who were in attendance who I had never seen before.

I mean, I can't help but to think that if you were a non-Christian, or someone who was visiting for the first time, and you came in wondering why Jesus is called the "Savior" that you hear about so much this time of year, then you probably left there still wondering what it's all about.

There was absolutely no explanation of why He has that honorable title, why He decided to save us in the first place, and why we need to be saved.

Ok, perhaps that's a little unfair of me. There were several Old Testament and New Testament readings as well as Christmas songs that we all sang that actually presented the Gospel (and presented them better than the sermons did I might add) so that was good.

Still, it was frustrating for sure since there were a couple of times when it was stated that we have forgiveness available to us, but it was never explained what that forgiveness is for let alone why it's needed. Again, "sin" didn't make a single appearance, which could leave someone confused.

Oh, how I long for the Apostle Paul's brand of preaching from the pulpit...

1 Corinthians 2:1-16 (ESV) 1 And I, when I came to you, brothers,a did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 6 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. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

All any Pastor has to do is preach God's Word accurately, faithfully, and without watering it down to make it more palatable to people.

The "Good News" is conveyed not through eloquence, but through humble messengers testifying about the cross. We look there for God's power and rest in His wisdom.

The message of the cross is simple, but the spiritual wisdom that comes with it touches every area of life and faith. Yes, we will be changed by the power of God as a result of hearing and believing the Gospel, but "Jesus Came To Change FILL IN THE BLANK" is not the Gospel.

To suggest that we're also pretty cool cats who Jesus wanted to share His life with as the reason why He came into the world is ridiculous too.

We should avoid pride and boasting about anything we do for God or for others. We bring nothing but sin into our relationship to God (Isaiah 64:6), but receive all good things from Him. Our life -- physical and spiritual -- comes from God.

I don't know if I'm just being overly sensitive to this given my recent departure from American Evangelicalism or not, but I noticed that even the title of the sermon on Christmas Eve was heavy on the "Law-Gospel-Law" approach that's so prevalent these days rather than being demonstrative of a proper distinction between "Law-And-Gospel" that should be characteristic of us Lutherans.

"Take The Baby Home!" (Luke 2:11)

That was the name of the Christmas Eve sermon.

"Take" as in "I-Have-To-Do-Something-Myself-In-Order-For-My-Faith-And-Salvation-To-Be-Genuine" you mean? Of course! I almost forgot that our church just completed a 6-week Small Group Series on Francis Chan's Crazy Love book, which tells us that you might not be a Christian and might have a reason to doubt your own salvation if you don't exhibit the kind of "crazy love" for Jesus by your actions that the author (and other legalists) say matter the most to Him.

Our Pastor then proceeded to wrap up his message by telling us that it's not enough to just believe since we have to "take the baby home" with us if we want to see "real change" in our lives (he said this as he picked up and held up a toy doll from a manger he set up next to the altar).

Remember, "take the baby home." I'm sorry, but shouldn't should it be "Receive The Baby Jesus!" instead? That was rhetorical, my friends.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, Jesus came to save us from our sins -- not to change your life for the better, or because your life is so great that He wanted to share a part of it with you, and the only way He could do that is to come into the world the way He did.

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. 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 not consistent with Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

1 comment

  1. I just came across this relevant message from Pastor Reeder that I thought I'd share as a nice bookend to this piece...

    Words Out of Place For Today's Church?

    Grace And Peace,


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