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Facebook (False) Theology: Snowblowing 'Proves' That You Are 'A True Follower Of Jesus'

Please note that names will be omitted to prevent any charges that I am guilty of "violating the 8th Commandment" in my entry here today.

So this showed up on my Assembly of God-Charismatic-Pentecostal-"Word of Faith" friend's Facebook page the other night (not the picture, but the quote that follows it; the picture I added myself for reasons that will become obvious shortly)...


 
Thanks to NAME who surprised me and showed up at my house to snow blow it!...what a man and what a friend...this guy is for real...a true follower of Jesus and proves it over and over again through the years!


Perhaps I'm "reading into it too much" things that aren't explicitly there if not also taking it "too personally" given my history with both individuals involved in this quote (the person who typed it and the person who is mentioned in it). If that's the case, then Lord, have mercy on me and forgive me!

The thing is, I do know that both men publicly believe, teach, and confess (both inside of Christ's Church and outside of it) all sorts of heterodox (if not also unorthodox) things like Works-Righteousness, Kingdom Now, Name It, Claim It/Word of Faith, Miraculous Spiritual Gifts, Sinner's Prayer/Relationship With Jesus, and a Theology of Glory type of stuff.

So, if that's their faith foundation (the WHAT and WHY they believe, teach, and confess what they do), then it's not so much a stretch to assume what was meant by the above statement. If nothing else, the mere implication made in the statement above that "Our Good Works = Justification = Salvation = True Christianity" demands that we address it out of love for our neighbor and out of hatred for anything that distorts the Gospel.

Don't worry, I'm also not assuming out of a place of ignorance and/or self-righteousness, because these are also two men that I have sat down with personally one-on-one to share my concerns and to try to get them to see that what the Scriptures say about their need to repent and change their thinking about such things (or to at least stop preaching and teaching other Christians since "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" Galatians 5:9). I hope that satisfies anyone who wants to throw Matthew 18 at me.

As you know, 2015 is the #YOHBT, but even if it wasn't, Scripture says I'm obligated to say a few things about this for any of my dear family members, friends, and/or readers who might be inclined to agree with such an absurd statement coming from a Christian.


"Here we go again! Come on now, Jeff! Why do you insist on being so negative all the time? You're a Pharisee! Stop being so divisive and unloving! 'Faith without works is dead,' right? Are you REALLY gonna make an issue out of this? Aren't you being a little harsh here? Besides, I'm sure the person who wrote it means well."


Citing James 2:18-26 is a common defense mechanism in cases like this, but we can't let that stop us from speaking "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) because we know that "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Are we supposed to ignore all of that as well as things like Jesus' instructions to "pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4)?

Surely, if "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 19:19) then you should love them enough to want to have the necessary (albeit difficult) conversation with them from time-to-time since "better is open rebuke than hidden love" (Proverbs 27:5) and "faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27:6) -- but only after taking the log out of your own eye first (Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42) -- rather than just letting them continue to sit happily in their sins all because you've decided that to "Let Go And Let God!" is the better and more Biblical approach.


Poppycock! Poppycock, I say!

"But Jeff!" some of you are objecting. But what? Are we truly justified by faith, or by works of the Law as this misguided statement suggests if not emphatically implies? Well, what do we know about the Law and the Gospel?

Before I say anything myself, I want to let the divinely inspired writings from the Apostle Paul say all that really needs to be said about such utter nonsense and a total perversion of the Gospel as was communicated in that brief Facebook post.


Galatians 3:1-14 (ESV) 1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain -- if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith -- 6 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." 12 But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us -- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree" — 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.


Amazing how words written so long ago are so fitting for our day-and-age, isn't it?

Actually, it's not "amazing" at all, because we should believe and expect that the Word of God transcends all times and places since the one constant from then until now is that human beings are all sinners in need of salvation; always have been, and always will be!

As this passage from Galatians 3 clearly says, the righteous (a.k.a. the "true follower of Jesus" according to my friend) are only righteous DUE TO THEIR FAITH IN CHRIST and HIS WORKS FOR THEM and they "prove it over and over again" every time they REJECT THEIR OWN GOOD WORKS AS BEING THE THING THAT JUSTIFIES THEM and instead POINT TO JESUS CHRIST AND HIS GOOD WORKS (A.K.A. LIFE, DEATH, RESURRECTION FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US) AS BEING THE ONLY THING THAT JUSTIFIES THEM.

In short, the righteous shall live by faith. That's what we're told. To assert anything else is pure heresy. Yes, I just used the dreaded "H" word, and rightfully so too, since "heresy" is simply defined as "any belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine."
What could be more "contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine" than to imply that we are justified by our own good works even if they are in Jesus' name? That's a direct distortion of the Gospel and that's why we can't just let it go and look the other way I'm afraid.


Back to that example of Facebook (False) Theology. It's unfortunate that the Gospel can be mangled so incredibly like that from someone who is propped up by everyone I know as being the "Model Christian"/"Super Christian" for us mere beggars to emulate. Why? Well, because he's "proof" of what it's like to "Live The Victorious Christian Life!" don't ya know?

As frustrating as that can be, I'm not all that surprised that a quote like this came from my Assembly of God-Charismatic-Pentecostal-"Word of Faith" friend who believes that the strangers you encounter in life are converted and saved BY YOU "loving them" through "doing good works for them" and by "befriending them" and "having a real relationship with them" which sounds an awful lot like the whole FiveTwo/Wiki14 "Sacramental Entrepreneur" bull, doesn't it?


My dear friends, it's not just me who has a problem with this sort of thinking either.










Amen! So let's cut to the chase.

The problem with a statement like the one that's got me all riled up is that it logically follows then that my next door neighbors, who I know for a fact aren't Christians, are actually "for real" and "true followers of Jesus" and the "proof" for this is all because they baked me and my family a plate of White Chocolate Chip Cookies last week (or do you have to do more strenuous and physically demanding work like shoveling/snowblowing in order for it to really count?).

See, by my friend's twisted Law-based logic, that would mean that Muhammad, Hassan, and Talib (three devout Muslims who I work with on a daily basis) are actually "for real" and "true followers of Jesus" and the "proof" for this is all because each one took the time to do a task that was above-and-beyond the scope of their Job Description, and they did it just to give me a helping hand.

Do you see the problem with such thinking? I mean, are we supposed to believe that an Agnostic or an Atheist or a Buddhist or a Muslim or whatever are all incapable of doing good works in this life? After all, only those who are "for real" or who are "true followers of Jesus" are capable of doing good works since it's those very good works themselves that "prove" they're genuine Christians.

By the way, what about the Christians who read that statement and think, "Boy, I've never shoveled anyone's driveway and couldn't do any physically demanding favor for them or anyone because of my bad back and injured knees! I wonder if I'm really a Christian and a 'true follower of Jesus' then!?!"

Is that a "bad example" because it's too naive and you think no one would actually think that? Ok, fair enough. Let's just keep it general then. What about the Christians who read that statement (coming from someone who they know that everyone else already thinks is a "Model Christian" for us to follow) and think: "Boy, I've never done as many good works as So-And-So! Am I really a Christian like they are!?! What kinds of good works do I have to do? How much is enough?"

What invariably happens is that you start looking at YOURSELF instead of looking AT JESUS CHRIST! Worse, you start to compare yourself to other people all the time and this leads one to despair if not an eventual rejection of the faith completely.


Well, if that's you, then take comfort, my brother/sister!








I hope it's becoming increasingly clear why the kind of statement I saw on Facebook the other night is quite problematic and even un-Biblical to a significant degree due to the fact that it completely distorts the Gospel.

While I certainly don't like it (or want to sound like I'm making excuses and giving one of the two friends here a free pass), I can at least understand why the person who posted it believes what he believes. The kind of preaching and teaching he's been hearing at the Assembly of God-Charismatic-Pentecostal churches he's been attending have been feeding him a steady diet of this spiritual Liquid Drano.

Sadly, however, the "NAME" of the person he was referring to is the quintessential "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" who I have shed many tears over before.

That's why the other part of my reaction to this whole mess is my frustration that the "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" wouldn't gently correct such a statement himself.

After all, as a self-proclaimed lifelong Lutheran, and someone who I've approached numerous times in recent months about this same kind of un-Biblical Works-Righteousness junk, it would've been nice to see a reply to the effect of...



Hey, thanks! I'm truly humbled by your kinds words, but it was my pleasure. However, while I'm sure you meant well with a Thank You Note like that, I don't want to give the wrong impression to anyone who might be reading this. For instance, Romans 3:28 says "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." Your statement seems to strongly imply that a person is a "true follower of Jesus" (a.k.a. a "true Christian") because of the works that they do and that those very same works are also "proof" of their conversion. If I'm misinterpreting what you were trying to say here (let alone what you believe yourself), then I'm sorry and I hope you will forgive me. Still, given the nature of Facebook, I felt clarification may be needed so that none of God's children are led astray, especially when I know your heart and know you always mean well. As a lifelong Lutheran, I don't believe this is a correct understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which says "for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). In other words, yes, "good works" are should be a part of the Christian life, but the minute we start noticing them or keeping track of them is precisely the moment they cease to be "good works" done out of unselfish love for and service to our neighbor. I hope I'm not offending you by my response here, and again, I'm sure you meant well, but Facebook is a tricky thing, there are many people who read things and never comment on them, and I just want to be careful that we're both clear in what we're saying so that there are no misunderstandings. Plus, we will all have to give an account for every word (Matthew 12:36), which is why I wanted to be clear about how my own beliefs regarding how a person is converted/justified may be much different from your own. Thanks again! Grace and peace!


Why couldn't a reply like that have been made -- particularly when it's a lifelong Lutheran who would've been giving such a response, and especially when it's an individual who has had another close friend (me) approach him repeatedly over the course of the past 1-2 years about his need to address this very same thinking?

What's equally difficult is that both are sincere Christians (friends) who I love dearly, but both are sincerely wrong when it comes to the basic truths of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) and it breaks my heart to know that they continue to reject the heart of the Gospel (how one is justified unto salvation) if not make OUR GOOD WORKS the most important thing in a Christian's life as opposed to CHRIST'S GOOD WORK ON THE CROSS being the most important thing. This continues to be the case time-after-time stretching back two full years now and all despite my urgent pleas and warnings to repent and turn away from this false gospel.

I'll admit that this sort of thing does sting a little too. Am I taking it too personally by admitting that that's the case? Perhaps I am.

It's just maddening that you can tell loved ones that you're concerned about the sin you see in their life and that you're worried it might eventually lead them to make "shipwreck" (1 Timothy 1:19) of their faith and you're treated as the worst family member and/or friend that anyone can have.

If only they could see all the sleepless nights, the hours upon hours of Bible study and prayer to make sure I wasn't the one who was wrong myself, and the tears flowing down my face while driving home after being told, "I agree with you, but not enough to work with you to try to tell others about this so we can try to make things right, which is why I think the best thing for you and your family to do is to find a new church..." (I'm paraphrasing here).


Yet, shovel the snow from someone's driveway and the response is "what a man and what a friend" instead. Makes sense to me. I guess I have no choice except to recall what we learned from Martin Luther yesterday morning.

Interestingly enough, my Daily Devotion for the morning after reading that quote was a fitting rebuttal and reminder to us all.



FAITH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WORKS 
Romans 3:28 (ESV) For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Our opponents insist that good works are necessary for salvation, and the world enthusiastically agrees with them. Certainly, what the saints did was admirable, and they did many great works. But even if you were to show me the most holy saint of all, would that person have done enough good works to earn God's approval? 
We also recognize that love is an essential aspect of the Christian life and that all believers need to restrain their corrupt desires and practice self-denial. "But you don't do that," our opponents protest. Our reply is, "Even if we could do all that, would we have done enough for God's approval?" The only reason we think so highly of what we do is that we don't want God to receive any of the credit. We readily admit that good works are necessary. But they're not more important than what we already have: God's approval, which comes through faith. We must understand the difference between what is priceless and what is cheap, what is important and what is trivial. This distinction is important in all of life, but especially in this doctrine. Even animals understand the difference between good and bad food. A dog knows that meat is better than bread. 
Therefore, we should value good works and remember doing them is still necessary. But we should value God's Word and his promises even more highly. We will live in God's presence because we believe in what He says, not because we do good works that make us holy. We have to make a clear distinction between our good works and our faith in God's Word. Believing in God's Word defeats the devil and makes us holy children of God. 
*- Martin Luther 
By Faith Alone: 365 Devotional Readings Updated In Today's Language...
February 10th


That says it all, IMHO.


It's one thing to want to thank another brother or sister in Christ publicly on Facebook for their good deed that directly impacted you (and I'm all for it!), but if you're a Christian, then please don't go giving the wrong impression to others (who may be non-Christians and reading your words, by the way) and imply that you become a "true" Christian and a "true" follower of Jesus by WHAT YOU DO FOR OTHERS IN HIS NAME instead of WHAT JESUS HAS ALREADY DONE FOR YOU! Such statements prove your ignorance and it completely perverts the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Worse, it could give others a false sense of security as they look to themselves, and to their own actions, for "proof" of their salvation even though the road to Hell will be paved with the souls of Works-Righteousness believers.

Don't believe me? That's ok. You don't have to believe ME, per se, but you do have to believe the LORD and what He has revealed to us in His holy Word.



Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 3:28 (ESV) For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Romans 16:17 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" 23 And then will I declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."

2 Corinthians 11:3-6 (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. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

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. 
[emphasis mine]


Yep, God's Word clearly supports the case I'm desperately trying to make. Imagine that.

So, whether it's truly the #YOHBT or not, I, for one, cannot and will not remain silent about such blatant false doctrine when it attacks the very heart of the Gospel itself.

IN A LUTHERAN LAYMAN'S TERMS, NO, OUR "GOOD WORKS IN JESUS' NAME" DO NOT MAKE US CHRISTIANS! THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKS THROUGH THE LORD'S MEANS OF GRACE, WHICH ARE HIS WORD AND SACRAMENTS. WE ARE JUSTIFIED AND SAVED THROUGH CHRIST'S ATONEMENT FOR OUR SINS ON THE CROSS, THROUGH HIS LIFE, HIS DEATH, AND HIS RESURRECTION, AND NOT SIMPLY DUE TO THE FACT THAT WE SHOVEL OUR FRIEND'S DRIVEWAY!!!

Yes, I put that IN ALL CAPS AND UNDERLINED IT TOO since it's that important.

Repent of such wicked false teaching (Matthew 18:15-17; Jude 1:22-23). And remember, we don't do our good works for God. We do them for our neighbor. Furthermore, God does not need our good works, our neighbor does, but that doesn't mean that we are somehow justified by them.

We're not. Not at all.

We're justified by Jesus Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind.




NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. 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 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 Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, 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 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). 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 notes 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 have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. 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 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. Grace and peace to you and yours!
  

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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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