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What Luther Says

Defying The World: By Faith Alone, Not Reason Alone

The words from the title of this entry have so much more meaning to me today than they did just a day before.

Sometimes it takes a conversation with a non-Christian to emphasize the profound truth of those simple words.

As you know, I'm in Tampa, FL for three straight weeks of Corporate Training for a new job. Yesterday evening, by the sheer grace of God, I patiently endured a 3-hour tirade from an angry non-believer who's a member of my Training Class.

It was a very unusual experience for me personally.

What's remarkable is how innocently it all began.

For several hours leading up to this point, we had been getting to know each other within the larger group as so often happens in these situations.

We both remarked how fortunate we were to have met -- particularly because we were so similar and shared many of the same interests and perspectives in life.

He even started to show me pictures on his cell phone from back home when this one from comedian Louis CK popped up:

Now, wanting to be as faithful a Christian as I could be in this vocation I've been given (1 Peter 3:14-16), I read it and said something along the lines of, "You know, that's a great quote because it's so perceptive about us all being dead right now since God says we're all sinners who are dead in our trespasses, and the wages of sin is death, but as a Christian, and because of my faith in Jesus Christ and what He did for me and for all of us, I would completely disagree with the line about there being nothing but death and more death after this life."

I'm not going to spend any time sharing all the specifics of what we talked about from that point on, but suffice it to say that he didn't like that comment one bit. No, unfortunately, this is a young man who's God is Science and whose Savior is Man's Own Intellect.

I will say that I did almost fall out of my chair and into the pool when he insisted he was a Christian, but doesn't believe in Jesus at all let alone that the Bible was the Word of God!

He doesn't believe in Jesus whatsoever, but regularly wanted to quote Jesus as proof to support the arguments he was trying to make. Oh, and "the Bible can't be trusted because it was written some 2,000 years ago" although "Science proves that the universe is 6 billion years old" and therefore we must believe it over and above God Himself and the divinely inspired writers of the Old and New Testaments.

While debating and discussing the common criticisms, objections, and questions that people have about Christianity is certainly nothing new to me, it was the very first time I encountered an individual who was dead set on making sure he had his say on each and every subject stemming from our shared and cherished faith that he believed raised a legitimate point of contention.

He literally left no stone unturned, and yet, emphatically chose to ignore the only unturned stone that mattered most in our dialogue.

Luke 24:2-3 (ESV) 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

You name it, there wasn't a rabbit hole we didn't travel down together!

Of course, I patiently let him state his case for quite awhile (only interjecting here and there strategically with a Bible verse or two since I didn't want to give the impression that his voice wasn't allowed to be heard) before jumping in with both feet firmly planted on The Rock (Psalm 18:2; Psalm 18:46; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 31:2-3).

That's when I started asking him direct questions in response to something he said he believed; questions that demanded a "Yes" or a "No" answer. Guess what? He never answered any of the "Yes" or "No" questions!

Instead, those were ALWAYS the places where he would choose to become passive aggressive and begin saying things like, "See, this is usually the point where I have to stop talking with other Christians like you. I don't know, you seem like you're getting pretty mad. Are you getting angry, Jeff? Look at your body language? Why are you so closed minded? Are you starting to hate me because I don't believe what you believe?"

I do believe God's Word and my attempts to proclaim Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind (for you, for me, for him) was beginning to take its toll on his heart and mind though, because he kept getting angry about the idea that he would go to Hell if he died without repenting for his sins and believing in Jesus.

And I didn't go all "Westboro Baptist" on him either. He asked me what I believe, I told him, he didn't like it, and I simply said that it's not my opinion and that I was only quoting what the Bible (God's Word) says about it.

I kept asking him to seriously think about why he was reacting that way and whether or not it could be the Holy Spirit convicting his conscience (Romans 10). I mean, after all, if he truly believes that Christianity is all a myth, then what does he care what I believe anyway? It's all a lie according to him, right?

I'm getting sidetracked though. I have to say that it was difficult for me at times, because my old Evangelical persona wanted to show itself repeatedly whenever it started thinking that God could be proven rationally through Apologetics and that it was up to People-Like-Me to simply give People-Like-Him the "proof" that would finally answer all of his questions once-and-for-all. When my old Evangelical persona wasn't doing that, it was desperately trying to get me to present some kind of "Decision Theology" to him instead.

It was funny, because every single time I sensed myself doing that, or wanting to do that, I hit the brakes and invited him to church with me tomorrow morning. I figured some good old Law and Gospel Lutheran style on Palm Sunday might be just what the Lord wanted me to offer him.

In any event, it's been awhile since I encountered someone as angry as him. Don't get me wrong, he's a stand-up guy and all, but this is one subject that really gets him hot under the collar!

Looking back, the warning signs were there though. I remember how he remarked to us over and over again earlier in the day how he is a "headstrong" person and "borderline arrogant" and that he knows it. I was completely shocked when he first said that to us and even remarked that even though we had just met, I would never even guess that about him, but said I thought it was good that he was at least able to humble himself and admit to that though. Later, he added that he is very opinionated and likes when he encounters others who are very opinionated, but who hold views different to his own. He made it clear that he respects those who stand up for what they believe in, no matter what, and is perfectly willing to be friends with someone who he vehemently disagrees with. We'll see. And, come to think of it, I do recall getting some weird glances from him whenever I stopped to quickly (and silently) pray before my meals this week.

Now, all of that would be ironic enough...if it weren't for the daily devotional that I just happened to read that morning, or a full 15 hours earlier!

In fact, the book "By Faith Alone: 365 Devotional Readings Updated In Today's Language From Martin Luther" was given to me as a gift before I left to come here.

This is what I read first thing yesterday morning...


John 15:19 (ESV) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Christ warns us here about the world's opposition to Christians. We must learn to despise the world's envy and hatred and whatever else it tries to do to us. It's inevitable that the people of the world will hate God and Christ. And because they hate Christ, they will also hate us. Because of this ongoing opposition, we must know how to overcome it by despising the world's arrogance. The more we let the world's arrogance bother us, the more the devil and the world likes it. If the devil could make us agonize and worry day and night about the world's opposition to the Gospel, he would laugh up his sleeve and have great fun with it. The people of the world would only rant and rave longer and louder. They would think they were succeeding because they were making us wail and cry. But if we defiantly ignore them, they become angry, sad, and irritated that their enemies are mocking them to their face -- even when their ranting and raving is at its peak. The devil is extremely arrogant, and so is his bride, the world. So there's nothing worse to him than being despised and mocked. When he experiences this and can't do anything about it, he retreats. Otherwise, he doesn't stop until he makes us discouraged and exhausted. He urges and pushes so long and hard that one could die of sorrow. But when he sees that we're determined to hold out against his hatred and that we continue to be cheerful and even mock him on top of it, he'll be the first one to grow tired. He's so haughty that he can't tolerate it when we defy him.

Isn't it just like God to speak to you through His Word like that to prepare you for things that He knows are coming? Love it when He does that!

I was left thinking about two things primarily. First, that our recent Bible study about the "fool" is so relevant in this case. Second, that the claim that Christians "hate" non-Christians and are so "un-loving" toward them is absurd.

Look, please understand that it's NEVER about "Winning A Debate" either. It's about a faithful confession of the faith so that God can win (a.k.a. save) souls. So, please pray that Kyle thinks about the faithful proclamation of Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind (for you, for me, for him) that he heard last evening and that the Holy Spirit will use it to one day bear the fruits of repentance and faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

All is not lost though it may appear that way to my eyes (Isaiah 55:11). Plus, my "Car Buddy" here from Training just told me tonight that his father-in-law was an LCMS Pastor in North Dakota, and so I invited him to go to church with me tomorrow too. He said to give him a call in the morning at 9am!

Christian witness begins with a person's own faith. We must know what we believe, teach, and confess according to God's Word. Positive testimony and witness to the truth of the Gospel is called for (1 Peter 3:15; Galatians 1:6-10).

Christianity stands up to scrutiny and investigation because it's true. Christians are to be prepared to tell others about this truth whenever they have the opportunity. Others may notice the Christian's faithful response to adversity, which may cause them to seek the reason and thus hear the Gospel.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, defending the Gospel should not be done with arrogance or militance, because God calls for a gentle witness to the truth.

Jesus blesses us by allowing us to tell others about the life we have in Him so that they, too, may share in His blessings.

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 our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. 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 we 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). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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