It's By His 'Means Of Grace' -- Not 'Any Means Necessary!'

In case you missed it earlier today, I shared and commented on this excellent quote from Pastor Matt Richard on Facebook.


 
The words, "new, relevant, movement, innovative, missional, emergent, intentional, community, etc..." are so 2004. I get so exhausted trying to see which way the reed is blowing and where it will blow to next. Just give me that which is old, sturdy, and has survived the test of time; what the current culture of missional enthusiasts deem as boring and ineffective, that is what I want and what the church within a postmodern culture needs. Indeed, the church today needs the "for you" Water, Word, Bread, and Wine, for it was the Word and Sacraments that preserved the church and evangelized pagans for the first 1,900 years and it will be these same means that will preserve and evangelize in the years to come. 
*- Pastor Matt Richard


He's absolutely right, you know.

That prompted me to click the "Share" button and introduce it with a few words of my own since this is such a "hot topic" in my life right now for various reasons.


Couldn't agree more! Times/Trends will always change, but people won't because we're all born sinners in need of Jesus Christ's saving grace (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:12; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). The one common denominator linking the past with the present (and even the future) is Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind (John 3:16; John 14:6; Romans 5:18; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Galatians 2:20). 
Why in the world are we so arrogant to assume that we have found "a new way" to convert the lost with "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" when it is a work of God (John 6:44; Ephesians 2:8-9) let alone that "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17) and that His blessed Sacraments, like Baptism, saves us (1 Peter 3:21)? The answer? Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death."  
My dear friends, the Gospel of Jesus Christ transcends all places and all times and the Lord has been saving souls the same way He always has. That will never change. It's we, Christ's Church, who have changed, not Him (Hebrews 13:8). Do we trust Him to continue to save souls even in this day and age or do we think that He couldn't possibly do any of it without our help and innovation as though it were "YOU For Christ" rather than "CHRIST For You" instead? Yes, confess Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind...within the various vocations that God has given you. 
Gene Edward Veith wrote, "The doctrine of vocation is not just about our work. It really is the Lutheran doctrine of the Christian life. We are brought to faith through Word and Sacrament and then we live out that faith in love and service to our neighbors. 'Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him' (1 Corinthians 7:17). And God assigns us and calls us to various and multiple tasks in the orders that He has created for human beings: the household (the family plus economic labor), the church, the state, and what Luther called 'the general order of Christian love' (the informal relationships of friendship, interactions with others, as in the Good Samaritan parable, etc.). Vocation is where sanctification happens, where we exercise our faith, where we battle with sin, where we grow 'in faith towards you [God], and in fervent love for one another' (as it says at the end of the liturgy, when we are sent back into our vocations)." 
Yet, how will the "new, relevant, movement, innovative, missional, emergent, intentional, community" Christians in non-historical, non-orthodox, non-traditional churches ever hear that when they are the ones insisting (because of their "creativity" and "innovation") on removing the liturgy from the service completely? Still think things like the liturgy are "boring" and "ineffective" for us when it's the liturgy that is designed to deliver "the 'for you' Water, Word, Bread, and Wine'" we all desperately need? 
Grace and peace!


I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I'm sure my agreement with him and my own comments thrown in for good measure will agitate a handful of hearts and minds if not also generate more than a few eye-rolls, shaking heads, raised eyebrows, and responses to the contrary from the "new, relevant, movement, innovative, missional, emergent, intentional, community" Lutherans-In-Name-Only who I know.

In fact, I'm waiting to see how long it is before all of this is misinterpreted as me somehow suggesting that Christians can't be "creative" and "innovative" with the tools they have at their disposal in the sense that I'll be attacked as someone who's being a hypocrite since I use things like Facebook, Twitter, and this website to confess Christ crucified.

Plus, there's always that one person who will ignore all of the truth presented above with a single statement along the lines of something like, "Well, if Martin Luther wasn't willing to be 'new' and 'innovative' and 'missional' and 'relevant' then he never would've used the Printing Press to mass produce God's Word!"

#Facepalm

What they completely miss is that God's Word was the focus in Luther's decision! He knew how important it was to get it in the hands of the common man. So, it wasn't about him or his willingness to be creative or to try something new "In The Name of Jesus!" It was all about the Lord and the holy Word of God, which Luther knew perfectly well would convert souls based on things he read in places like Romans 10:17, for instance.

Unfortunately, there are far too many Christians today who have it completely backwards. They act as though Jesus is seated on His throne at the right hand of the Father with His fingers crossed just hoping they'll finally "surrender their lives" to Him "so completely" this time that they'll finally be willing to unleash their own "creativity" and "innovation" and "missional" mindset in order to give Him the help He needs to do the work of saving as many souls as possible by any means possible, because when you're talking about salvation, the ends justify the means, right?

In a Lutheran layman's terms, it's always by His "Means of Grace" (Baptism, The Word, Lord's Supper) and never by "Any Means Necessary!" when it comes to the conversion and salvation of lost souls (Ephesians 2:8-9).


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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