Yes, I'm a wretched sinner saved by grace (Romans 7:24). Today, in the midst of the on-going cultural debate on the legalization of sin, I can't stop thinking about some hard core truths. It reminds me of something I once read along the lines of how "I can't brag about my love for God, because I fail Him daily, but I can brag about His love for me, because it never fails."
As a Bible-believing, God-fearing Christian, I claim no "moral high ground" based on my own merit. I know who I am and I know what I see when I look at myself in the mirror or consider my thoughts, words, actions, and inaction throughout the course of a single day. People tell me that "only God can judge!" which is true, but those same people fail to realize that He already has judged -- each and every single one of us -- by the truths found in His Word.
He has judged me and I have been found guilty as charged. Case closed. That's why I agree with the Word of God as written in the Holy Bible and why I agree with what He Himself calls a "sin" even though I may have had many life experiences that tell me that most sins are "fun" and "pleasurable" (or are anything but the kind of danger He makes them out to be). Sin's seductive power is that it blinds us to the truth that only the holy Law of God can reveal by convicting us of our sins, and the wages of those sins is death.
No, I'm not delusional...but I am a defeated victor!
See, even though I know that I am a sinner, there's nothing I could ever do to help myself. Absolutely nothing! My so-called "behavior modification" and "good works" are nothing but "filthy rags" before a holy and perfect God. Thankfully, my help is in the name of the Creator who made heaven and earth...and even me! But rather than blame Him for "making me this way" I know that if left to myself, I would choose sin over righteousness, sin over Him, each and every time. "I was born this way!" you say? Sure, I suppose that's true -- if you mean that we're all conceived in sin and born into this world as sinners with the natural inclination to sin.
That's where the finger-pointing stops and the scarred hands and feet begin!
Because of Christ’s cruciform sacrifice for all mankind (for you and for me), I look to the cross daily and admit that I am a sinner, but then I can instantly bask in the blessing of my baptism by understanding that I am forgiven for His sake. Yet, the world continues to view a Christian like me as a "hypocritical racist" somehow. For what? For admitting that I am no better than anyone else? For simply agreeing with what God's Word says about me (about all of us)? How unfortunate.
I get it though. From the world's perspective, sin of any kind is "freedom," and anything that treads on freedom is "intolerance" I'm told. Up is down, left is right, right is wrong, and black is white. Last I checked, however, blood is still red, and instead of focusing on only the "red letters" in my Bible all the time while excluding the others that are just as important, I prefer to recall what I read about the blood that was shed for every red-blooded human being on this planet that led to all of those words being written in the first place since "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith."
Still, this day-and-age is really no different than any before it. Human beings since Adam and Eve have always been sinners in need of saving grace and they will continue to be that way until Judgment Day. That's why it is only through the preaching of God's Law and Gospel that eyes are finally opened so that the truth is recognized. Truth is, we all fall short of the glory of God -- me, you, all of us. Sin of any kind is sweet for a season, but in the end it offers only bondage, slavery, and eventual death. I definitely don't deserve it, but boy am I grateful that this wretched sinner was given everlasting life and imputed righteousness that only the true Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, can give me through His death on the cross in my place, and His resurrection and victory over Satan, and all as an unmerited gift of salvation! Yes, this gift is FREE and it's not just for me, but for you as well.
Ephesians 2:8-9 "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."
Acts 17:29-30 "Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
Romans 5:15-21 "But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
(NOTE: Inspired by Scott Diekmann's recent commentary published by Steadfast Lutherans. One paragraph in particular was adapted and slightly modified here to "make it my own" and the rest is simply from the heart. Grace and peace!)
I originally intended to share this as a single paragraph on my Facebook page, but it took on a life of its own (imagine that!) and when one paragraph became four, then it became way too long to post it there. So, I thought I'd publish it as a blog post here instead.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, I am a wretched sinner saved by grace, and I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
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, 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 disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 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 pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" 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!?!). 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 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 both past and present 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 (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 experiencing and/or 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!