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What Luther Says

Great Reversal: Starting Over By Starting At The End

Today's entry reminds me of some key truths like...

Luke 14:11 (ESV) For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

If there was a single verse from all of Scripture that best sums up my spiritual life in the last year, then that would have to be it.

That verse also reminds me of the "Great Reversal" since that verse from Luke 14 records Jesus making one of His many paradoxical statements, which He seems to do all over the place in the gospels (statements that sound like the reverse of what you might expect).

And this theme really runs throughout the entire Bible. Theologians like to call this theme "the Great Reversal." "The Great Reversal": that in the end, God is going to turn things upside-down–or really, rightside-up–from the way they are now in the world. We find this idea in so many places in the Bible. 
*- Pastor Charles Henrickson

The ultimate "Great Reversal" had me thinking about my own "great reversal" of sorts.

Yes, it's true. I've decided I'm starting over by starting at the end. That's just my poetic way of saying that I'm starting (or is it continuing?) this journey toward becoming a Confessional Lutheran by starting at the end of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, or in the very place where the Lord began drawing me to Himself.

John 6:44 (ESV) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 
Romans 3:10-11 (ESV) 10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.

As I've noted in previous posts over the course of the past few days, I can't even begin to explain how prominent the study of end times Bible prophecy was in my life prior to escaping Evangelicalism for the Confessional Lutheran faith.

No, I was never one to play "Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Antichrist" or a "Rapture Ready" date setter by any means, but I did still explore such topics quite extensively over the course of several years on my own personal blog and podcast.

In fact, I was even invited to be a Guest Speaker on numerous radio shows and even attended a weekend Prophecy Conference in Canton, OH back in late 2010 where I gave an almost 2-hour presentation.

The entire time I was looked to as the guy who would speculate on the "likely" course of events contributing toward the fulfillment of "likely" last days scenarios fueled by the latest current events and news headlines and I happily obliged every chance I got since I truly believed that I was "Serving The Lord By Speaking The Hard Truth About The Late And Urgent Times We Are Living In" and so I slept just fine at night.

Besides, I always cautioned my listeners/readers with Acts 17:11, I wasn't doing it for profit or to make money, and I wasn't pointing people away from salvation in Jesus Christ. I just wasn't pointing them to Him with any regularity, because I was deceived by the whole "Decision Theology" nonsense. Plus, while there was mention of salvation from sin, it sort of became a message that was about Christ's salvation from the worst that was to come through a fulfillment of Bible prophecy (i.e., salvation via a "Rapture").

I guess you could say that I was a sort of "star" of the Christian Blogosphere as it pertained to eschatology. Truth is, I was a star that was fading fast and didn't even know it, because the reality was that I was a fraud and a false teacher! See 2 Peter 2 for all the sordid details.

Gradually, I began to notice how much of those "Christian" Bible studies I was responsible for actually left out Christ Himself. It was subtle though. I mean, after all, I did mention Jesus and include Him in my work, but it was always about my work and not His work for His sheep. It was akin to the whole "In Jesus' Name" thing we hear other false teachers today tack on at the end of a prayer or a sermon to make sure they're covered and can still use the Christian brand and packaging.

So, Christ was there...but He really wasn't. A Christless Christian is no Christian at all, I'm afraid, and about the only time me and my colleagues mentioned Jesus was whenever we talked about Him coming back to save us "true believers" at the "Rapture" or when He was going to fulfill His "ultimate plan for humanity" on Judgment Day.

Notice anything? Where was the talk about His life, death, and resurrection for you and for me? Where was the talk about not just the Law and His divine wrath, but of the Gospel, and His unmerited grace and love? For that matter, where was the talk about any kind of Bible study other than those that focused exclusively on the prophetic passages of God's Word? Most of all, where was the talk about the Lord's Sacraments given to us as blessing and found in Holy Baptism and Holy Communion? Sadly, there wasn't any.

Thankfully, and through a series of unexpected circumstances and events, He began removing the scales from my eyes (Acts 9:18) so-to-speak, but little by little as I began to distance myself from such things that ironically left out what should've been (should be) the most important things in a Christian's day-to-day life.

How can I explain what happened to me between then and now? How could someone like me who was so passionate and fixated on end times Bible prophecy with a laser-like focus ever change his tune to the point where he no longer believes or defends so many of the entrenched positions he held on to so tightly just a year ago? How is it that I have done a complete 180 in the span of a single year? Is it of my own doing? Boredom with the "same old, same old" and a desire to discover something "fresh" and "new" or is it something else entirely?

Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

What do you think? For me, the answers are crystal clear.

In the year or so that I've really began discovering what it means to be a "Confessional" Lutheran as opposed to merely a "Lutheran In Name Only," I've come across terms like "Cage Stage" to describe the process.

Perhaps that's the subject of my next post, but for now, all you need to know is that this process, this metamorphosis, this transition, this transformation, has not been an easy one by any means!

We've looked at that topic before through Pastor Matt Richard's superb research, but I really cannot stress to you how comforting, crazy, depressing, exciting, fun, fearful, hopeful, and sad this whole change has been.

My own guilt-ridden conscience has been both comforted and rocked to its core. Family relationships and friendships have been severely tested. Before, I focused too much on the Law. Now, I worry that I'm focusing too much on the Gospel and His grace.

It's a delicate time for me right now, but one I wouldn't trade for the world. Why? The Parables of The Hidden Treasure and The Parable of The Pearl of Great Value have the answers.

Matthew 13:44-46 (ESV) 44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

In short, nothing can compare with the immense value and cost of God's kingdom.

The "field" is the world, the "treasure" is you and me (the hearer), and the "man" is Jesus Christ Himself, who gives up the glory of heaven to win you and me. It doesn't get any more Christological (a.k.a, a Christ-focused interpretation) than that, IMHO!

As I look back on the "Old Me" I can see that, yes, I did have good intentions and meant well. However, having my heart in the right place does not mean I get a free pass when it comes to my inaccurate proclamations of truth in years past (Jude 1:3; Galatians 1:10).

I have since repented of my errors -- my sinful actions and words. I just pray that those who received such half-truths and outright lies from me in the past are not eternally led astray because of my doing, and I can only quiet my conscience by trusting in the fact that it is the Lord Jesus Christ alone who saves (John 3:16; John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9), and He alone who is "the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

Looking back at the past year when this great reversal of my own first started, I think it's only fitting for me to look behind the curtain a little more at myself and to try and help others who are on a similar journey as they convert from one confession of faith to another.

No, not because it's all about me let alone my experiences that fuel my faith (or anyone else's for that matter), but simply because when I think about what it was that helped me to better understand the truth about the Father, about Christ, about the Holy Spirit, about God's Word, about Christ's Church, about the Lord's Sacraments, and about myself and others, I can honestly say that it was a network of online blogs (and podcasts) just like this one, and the willingness of others to share their stories, that truly helped bring me back to "the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Part of the "healing process" for me must include a "reprogramming" of sorts too. That's why I intend, God willing, to continue to look at the Book of Revelation in the days ahead, but from a distinctly Lutheran (a.k.a. historical, orthodox) and non-"Left Behind" perspective in the hopes of hitting the "Reset Button" when it comes to my long-held beliefs about the end times. I hope you'll join me and contribute to the discussion in the Comments Section of each post.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, "God is hiding right where He said" and it's not in some breaking news headline let alone my own misinformed and subjective speculation about the future despite my good intentions behind such vain attempts to be close to God and to know His will.

I'm starting over by starting at the end; the end of my Bible and the end of myself.

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! 


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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