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What Luther Says

What The Gospel IS And What The Gospel ISN'T

When it comes to the sermons that are preached each week by Pastors from the pulpit, do you know what the Gospel IS and what the Gospel ISN'T?

You might think it's "easy" to determine, but not so fast.

One Lutheran Pastor chimed in on this for us.

"False teachers will not focus on Jesus, but their sermons will consistently be on money, or morality, or tolerance, or social justice, or environmentalism. Pick your project, but the message is the same; it is not Christ-crucified for the forgiveness of sins, but rather some project or contemporary social event. False prophets will diminish sin, take the focus off of Jesus, and put it on you, and then stick you on some sort of project or social event. This is anti-Christian, because it eliminates Christ. If we are not sinners, we do not need Jesus, for Jesus came only for sinners. If we are focusing on the Christian and not the Christ, it also eliminates Jesus. May God protect us from this wretched theology that strips away the central message of Jesus Christ dying for sinners -- such as us." 
-- Rev. Matt Richard

 These are such important points for us to prayerfully consider at all times.

Sure, you might think that it's perhaps a little "too harsh" for Rev. Matt Richard to label such Pastors as "false teachers" or to classify these types of sermons as "another gospel" (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-7) even, but it's not a stretch at all given the abundance of Scripture that supports his warning here, and especially when you recall that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9).

Of course, Christian Pastors (and Christians alike) should be the salt and light in this world with something truthful to say about morality and social justice issues.

However, you know as well as I do that preaching a sermon on a moral issue like abstinence or a socio-economic of social justice issue like racism let's say is not the Gospel, and the Gospel should always take precedence (particularly from the pulpit) over and above any socio-political talking points.

This isn't about "pastoral arrogance" either as some might claim, but about what God's Word and the Confessions say about Pastors and the Office of the Holy Ministry.

This isn't about a "YouTube star" or "theological perfection" either (what's that anyway?), which is what some on my Facebook page said in response to all of this.

Again, it's about the simple fact that there's a simple formula for all called and ordained servants (as well as for the laity who are confessing faithfully in their vocations daily) and that's to simply confess Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind.

Any comments we have about morality and social justice are always SECONDARY to Law and Gospel, are they not? That is not "idealistic" in any day-and-age since the Gospel always transcends culture, times, and places. That's the reality, is it not?

Bottom line, it's always supposed to be about "CHRIST For You!" and not "YOU For Christ!" much less a message that "Jesus Suffered And Died On The Cross For Your Sins And The Sins Of All Mankind So That You Can Have...FILL IN THE BLANK...In This Life!" Yeah, um, no.

His suffering, death, and resurrection was to atone for your sins and mine whether committed in the past, present, or future (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10).

His suffering, death, and resurrection was to earn and then offer us the free gift of God's forgiveness, grace, mercy, and salvation from your sins and mine (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).

His suffering, death, and resurrection was to win victory over death so that it would have no sting upon you or upon me (1 Corinthians 15:55-56).

His suffering, death, and resurrection was to secure eternal life for you and for me (John 3:36; John 17:2-3; 1 John 2:24-25; 1 John 5:11)

This is what you should be hearing at church from your Pastor on a regular basis, because this is what it means to be truly #ChristCentered and #CrossFocused.

Thanks be to God that Redeemer Lutheran Church in Colden, NY is a church with a Pastor who understands this.

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 Healthcare Recruiting Manager, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast in Buffalo, NY. 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." So if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, "Praise the Lord! Thanks be to God!" but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor at all times. Trust, but always verify. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this lengthy 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 7 years ago now despite being a Christian my whole life. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you're a Lifelong Lutheran who believes 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 so that I can also 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 B-A-S-I-C-S 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 more "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 demanding I correct them or take them down entirely, but because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing and sanctifying work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life from then until now (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 own 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 too 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 by that! 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 about all the things that I'm studying or thinking about myself at the moment instead. 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 where I've done all the research for you already to help save you valuable time). 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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