That will help to explain the strange "Z" word listed in the title of this post.
That being said, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for good quotes of a distinctly "Lutheran" flavor that encourage prayerful consideration and a deeper study of God's Word, His Sacraments, Christ's Church, and our Lutheran Confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).
Plus, it certainly helps me in my on-going journey from American Evangelicalism to becoming a Confessional Lutheran. Here's the latest...
Whenever guilty consciences are directed to the inner life for certainty of salvation, faith is immediately in jeopardy, because the Spirit's work inside the Christian is always hampered by the sinful nature. Our sinful nature, St. Paul wrote, has not a single inclination toward good: "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh" (Romans 7:18). On the other hand, when faith is held to have no connection with life and the sanctifying power of the Spirit is denied, God's gift of grace is robbed of its power. Thus James can conclude: "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26). The danger of seeking security in the inner life has been uppermost in Lutheran thinking ever since the age of Pietism, for Pietists elevated the importance of the sanctified life to central place. The rampant subjectivism and emotionalism of the Pietists was inimical to the heart of the gospel. They exchanged the "alien righteousness" of Christ for the inherent righteousness of the believer as the basis of hope for everlasting life. The Christ FOR ME was rejected as a relic of dead orthodoxy in favor of the dynamic work of the Christ IN ME. The invisible verdict of justification coram Deo ("before God"), whereby God declares us not guilty for the sake of Christ, was set aside in favor of the visible work of sanctification in the life of the Christian.
This is most certainly true.
The That was an excerpt from an excellent book written by Rev. Dr. Harold Senkbeil that I just picked up (thanks Rev. Jordan Cooper!).
I haven't spent much time with it yet, but I can already assure you that it's PERFECT reading material for an ex-Evangelical like me as well as any "Lutherans-In-Name-Only" or Billy Graham and Chuck Swindoll fans that you might know in your life.
Come to think of it, this book should be viewed as "Required Reading" for any Christian regardless of the denomination they belong to who has somehow been taught to place the Doctrine of Sanctification on par with or over and above the Doctrine of Justification.
They are not the same thing at all and the former is certainly not more important than the latter let alone the believer's primary focus in this life!
And yet, millions of Christians around the world have been seduced by the sweet-sounding lie that they might not really be a Christian unless their life shows crystal clear evidence of X, Y, and Z despite the fact that Scripture reiterates over and over again that we are both saints and sinners simultaneously.
1 John 1:8 (ESV) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Yes, that letter was written to other Christians. Pretty straightforward, huh?
In a Lutheran layman's terms, God is not to be found in the subjective feelings of the heart let alone in our our sinful lives, but He is always to be found in the objective Word and Sacraments where He has promised to be.
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!