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Live By Grace, Not Works

One of the things I've noticed more than anything since becoming a Confessional Lutheran is how often people (both family members and friends alike) assume that I'm somehow suggesting that a person can't be a "true" Christian unless they are also a Lutheran.

That's just silly. No, really, that's just not true at all.

Truth is, the Lord keeps a "remnant" of His Church within each denomination (Romans 11:5). This "remnant" exists as a result of God's gracious election and is a sign of hope in the world. True believers are present in various churches in spite of any false teachers and their false teachings (they're certainly not "created" and/or discipled because of them).

I thought about that this morning as I came across this old quote from Jerry Bridges. Now, Jerry Bridges is a popular Christian author, but he's an Evangelical and not a Lutheran.

Given my past, I'm naturally a little wary of promoting an Evangelical in this space even if it is tacitly by merely referring to something an Evangelical has written.

Even so, this quote attributed to him is excellent (and 100% Biblical I might add)! Besides, it's like Rev. Matthew C. Harrison once wrote: "While we must reject what is false, we can also joyously note what is right -- no matter who says it."




"My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well -- whatever 'well' is in our opinion -- then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly.

In this sense, we live by works, rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the 'sweat' of our own performance. Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to 'try harder.'

We seem to believe success in the Christian life is basically up to us; our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily."


*- Jerry Bridges

That reminds me how today's "Self-Help" culture constantly tries to tempt us to try to do it all ourselves...as long as we throw in an "In Jesus' Name!" at the end.

Yet, God saves by grace through faith, apart from any works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Furthermore, our relationship with God is to receive His Son's death and resurrection in daily repentance and faith; to receive His gifts to us that include remembering what He did and does for us in our Baptism, hearing the Word preached, and receiving Holy Communion.


In a Lutheran layman's terms, it's good to remind ourselves of these truths about His unmerited grace each and every morning and throughout the day, isn't it?

It's never about "How Am I Doing As A Christian Today?" but about "How Did Jesus Live The Perfect Life Already And On My Behalf So That I Didn't Have To (Because I Couldn't)?"

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!

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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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