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What Luther Says

'Love Thy Neighbor' Because 'The Love Of Many Will Grow Cold' (Matthew 24:12)

This is truly despicable and heartbreaking on so many levels!

It is particularly disturbing for a Corporate Healthcare Recruiter like me to see, but I interview people every day who fail our screening process due to their unbelievably heartless and unprofessional answers and/or demeanor so I guess I'm not that shocked by this as most people would be.

Still, thank God for caring and compassionate Medical Professionals (like my mom and sister to name a few) who really want to help and serve other people in need for they acknowledge the unique vocation they've been given to serve His people.

Hidden Camera Tells True Story Of How Veteran Died After Calling For Help, Gasping For Air 
The video shows the decorated World War II veteran calling for help six times before he goes unconscious while gasping for air.

How can believers see a story like this and not immediately think of a couple of Bible verses that tell us that things would be this way?

Matthew 24:12 (ESV) "And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold."

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV) "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."

The sad reality is that doctrinal corruption always produces a deterioration of morality and ethics. Yet, amid Jesus' dire warnings about things continually getting worse, He also offers a word of encouragement and hope: those remaining faithful will be saved.

Unfortunately, this is the world we live in though, which is why we need to be "casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

Ok, yes, but there's something else we need to consider. Let's keep in mind that the opposite of "the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12) surely is "love thy neighbor" as we see from the 10 Commandments.

Think of it this way...

"Love God, Love Your Neighbor" (The Ten Commandments) 
"Love God, Love Your Neighbor": Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? And it is. It is simple. And it is good and right and holy. This is how life is meant to work. This is how God created us to live. Love God and love your neighbor. If everybody operated like this, life would go along pretty swimmingly. If I operated like this–in every decision, in every situation, in every thought, word, and deed–being guided by these two principles, loving God and loving my neighbor–well, I suppose I'd have to get a whole new heart, wouldn't I? Because I don't do that all the time, as I should. And I suspect you would have to say the same thing about yourself, about your heart and soul and mind. Because that's where it starts, doesn’t it? In our heart, in our soul, in our mind. And then those thoughts and desires migrate out into our words and our deeds. In the things we say and don't say. In the actions we take and fail to take. 
Love God, love your neighbor. It is pretty simple. But the truth is, we are not that “simple-minded,” in the good sense. We should have a pure heart and be single-minded about loving God and loving our neighbor. But sin, our own sin, enters in and messes everything up. Instead of loving God, we turn in on ourselves. We don’t trust God. We think he’s holding out on us, wanting to spoil our fun. We would rather make our own decisions about right and wrong and not listen to what God our Creator has to say. We don’t love God with all our heart. 
Nor do we love our neighbor. Again, we turn in on ourselves. Loving our neighbor could be costly, and often is. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes giving of ourselves. It means being directed outward instead of inward. It means getting down and serving others. And we don’t like to do that. We’d rather have people serve us. We don’t love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. 
Love God, love your neighbor. That’s what the Ten Commandments are all about. This is the right way to live. And who would know better than the God who created us? You see, God knows the best way for his creatures to live. That’s how he designed us. God wrote these commandments on our heart. And so when we go against these commandments, when we fail to keep them, our conscience reminds us. Our conscience bothers us. Our conscience afflicts us and convicts us. That is, if we haven’t so dulled our conscience to the point where we don’t even listen to that voice anymore. And that would be really scary. It’s a good thing when our conscience bothers us. It’s like the smoke alarm in a building that’s caught on fire. If you don’t hear it, you’re in a lot of trouble. 
And so you see, this convicting work of the Ten Commandments is actually a good thing. It’s for our benefit. The guilt it brings out is God’s alert system, telling us we need help. Otherwise, we might be so stupid and so callous as to think we’re alright on our own. And that is being really lost, scribe-and-Pharisee lost. 
No, God’s got to shake us up with the law, so that we will be ready to hear the gospel. We need to know we are sinners, with no righteousness of our own to be able to stand before God on the day of judgment. God does us a favor by holding this mirror of his law before our eyes. 
And then he comes to us with another word, a different word. It is the word of the gospel. God holds before our eyes the cross of Christ our Savior. We fix our gaze on him, and here we see the solution to our problem. Here we see the righteousness we lack, the righteousness we so desperately need. In Jesus we see the man who did keep the law, who did get it right. Jesus was always about loving God and loving his neighbor. Christ Jesus was always listening to his Father’s voice, wanting to do his will. Jesus was always going about helping people in need: healing their diseases, forgiving their sins, feeding the multitudes, saving sinking disciples, teaching his followers the wisdom of God, receiving sinners and eating with them. “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 
Jesus loved God and loved his neighbor so much that he was willing to go to the cross and suffer death, a humiliating death, because he knew that that was God’s will and man’s need. Jesus did this to save you, my friend. When the Son of God dies for you and sheds his blood for you, this is powerful stuff. Your sins are forgiven, because of Jesus. He took your sins, and you receive his righteousness, credited to your account. It’s all by grace, a free gift. 
Trusting in him, you have new life. Everlasting life, life that conquers the grave, as evidenced by Christ’s own resurrection. You have nothing to fear anymore, and everything to look forward to. 
This changes things. It gives you a new outlook on life. This gospel good news frees you up. You know a loving God now who cares about you in all your trouble. This is the God you can trust. You’re willing to risk a little now, not afraid to give of yourself, in order to help others. And God even changes you. In Holy Baptism, God gives you the Holy Spirit, so that now you do indeed have that new heart. You have the Spirit of Christ. Being united with Jesus in baptism, being transformed by God’s word in the renewing of your mind, you now possess new desires, a new will, and a new ability to love God and to love your neighbor. These commandments actually make sense to you, and you want to do them, according to the new person you are in Christ. 
And God will help you to do them. God’s word works powerfully and actively to make you more and more into the image of Christ. The Sacrament of the Altar strengthens you in faith toward God and in fervent love toward one another. This is what the Christian life is all about: Faith in God, through Christ, in the power of the Spirit, so that in our daily life we die to sin and rise to live in righteousness. This is the baptized life. And it will work itself out in the shape of the Ten Commandments. 
This is all true. Now of course, when I look at my heart, when I look at my life, my actions, my words, and yes, at my inner thoughts that I don’t want anyone else to know, I see something else at work too. It is my old damnable sinful nature, always creeping back, always wanting to take over again, and sometimes I yield to it. That’s on me. I need to own it. And then I need to give it over to Jesus, for him to forgive it and to cleanse me and to get me up and going again. And it will be this way the rest of my time here. Always dying, always rising, living in and from my baptism day after day. 
The Ten Commandments are always there, to show me when I get off track. The gospel, Word and Sacrament, are always there to restore me and renew me. The Lord’s Prayer is always there, so I can call on my heavenly Father for the forgiveness I need when I break his commandments, and for the help I need to do those good works and keep his commandments. 
There’s always this dynamic interplay going on in the Christian life, the interplay of Law and Gospel. We look in the mirror of God’s law, and we see that we don’t measure up. This leads us to repentance. We realize what sinners we are and that we will never measure up. We cry to God for forgiveness. Then the gospel comes, the good news of forgiveness, life, and salvation in Christ, and this gospel lifts us up and gives us new life. We even delight in God’s law and agree that this is the way to go. Help us, dear Lord, to do it! Lather, rinse, repeat. This is baptism applied on a daily basis. Dying and rising with Christ. This is your life, your whole life, wrapped up in a nutshell. Or perhaps I should say, in a baptismal shell. 
The Ten Commandments are always a part of this life. We never get away from them. They show us who we are and the way we should go. They show us our Creator’s good design for his human creatures to live, and he knows best. They show us God’s will for our lives, now that we are new creatures in Christ and have been given a new heart by the Holy Spirit. And the Ten Commandments can be summed up is these two words: Love God, love your neighbor. It’s pretty simple. And may the Lord make us simple-minded enough to know and do his will.

This is most certainly true.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, a despicable story like this one in the news recently only underscores what Pastor Charles Henrickson reminded us...

"...the Ten Commandments can be summed up is these two words: Love God, love your neighbor. It’s pretty simple. And may the Lord make us simple-minded enough to know and do his will."

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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