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What Luther Says

Christian Essentials

Before I became a Lutheran, there was this phrase "Don't-Major-In-The-Minors" that we Non-Denominational types would always say to each other whenever we felt like someone was drifting away from the "fundamentals" of the Christian faith.

Ironically, however (and if I'm being honest while looking back), we failed to realize that it only meant that we were excluding ENTIRE DOCTRINES that God has placed in His holy Word for us while simultaneously embracing things like "Gospel Reductionism" (which a story for another day).

In other words, the very things we called the "minors" actually turned out be be "major" doctrines that we were sinfully choosing to ignore simply because they didn't fit within our American Evangelical, Churchianity, Pop Christianity belief system.

I thought about that today after the post I wrote over the weekend about "10 Christian Truths" (not what I would classify as the definitive and universal "Top 10" let's say, but still just as important for believers to accept and understand).

Ok, so what are the so-called "Essentials of the Bible" if we were to come up with a short list? Here's a beautiful answer to that question that I found in my morning devotional from none other than Martin Luther himself...

Essentials Of The Bible 
You know the commandments: Never commit adultery. Never murder. Never steal. Never give false testimony. Honor your father and your mother. Luke 18:20

God has so ordered matters so that a Christian who might not be able to read the Bible should still learn from the Ten Commandments, the Apostle's Creed, and the Lord's Prayer. The essentials of Scripture and everything else a Christian needs to know are summed up in these three. They are written so briefly and clearly that no one has an excuse. No one should complain that it's too much or too difficult. In essence, a person only has to know three things to be saved. 
First, he must know what he should and shouldn't do. Second, when he sees that he isn't able to do good or refrain from doing evil in his own strength, he must know where he can find the strength. Third, he must know where he should look for his strength. It's similar to being sick. To begin with, a sick person needs to know what his illness is and what he can and cannot do. After that, he needs to know where he can find the medicine that will make him well. Finally, he must want this medicine, obtain it, or have someone bring it to him. 
So the Ten Commandments teach a person to recognize his illness. They help him see what he cannot do or refrain from doing. They help him see himself as a sinner. Then, the Apostle's Creed shows him where he can find the medicine -- the grace -- to help him become faithful so that he can keep the commandments. The Apostle's Creed points out that God and His mercy is offered in Christ. Finally, the Lord's Prayer teaches a believer how to desire and obtain all this through orderly and humble prayer. In this way, he will receive the cure and be saved. 
-- Faith Alone: 365 Devotional Readings Updated In Today's Language by Martin Luther (November 6th)

What I particularly like about all of that is how it not only provides us with the "Christian Essentials" for EVERY believer, but it also points out that those who still cling to the common criticism that "I just don't understand the Bible and that's why I don't read it!" or "The Bible is boring and I can't make sense of it either!" have no excuse due to existence of the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Apostle's Creed.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, there is no excuse for not learning and memorizing the essentials of our Christian faith when the Lord has given us His gift of the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Apostle's Creed.

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just your average everyday 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 Lutheranism" and one who recently escaped an American-Evangelical-Non-Denominational mindset a little more than 4 years ago now despite being a Christian my whole life. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way back into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (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 not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but repent of my sin and learn the whole truth myself. With that in mind, 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 heavily 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 will 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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