Category Archives: Discernment

Your Baptism Now Saves You

The other day, I was listening to the 200proofgospel podcast and they were discussing baptism. They brought up a very interesting point on infant baptism that I would like to expand upon.

There are a lot of protestant Christians who disagree with the practice, despite it being around for roughly as long as the church has. They often claim that baptism is a work that they do and a such, is not salvific. The historic church, on the other hand, does claim that baptism does contain saving grace and is not a work of man, but of God. Listening to the discussion on 200proofgospel, they brought up a very good point. Let’s eliminate all the supernatural reasons for infant baptism and focus on just the tangible reasons. Primarily, death.

Sometimes, there will be a grandmother who was very faithful in the church and her daughter will be having a child. Now, the daughter fell out of the church and hasn’t attended since she was a little girl. Now, the grandmother and daughter want to have the child baptized in this church because of the family history. Mama was baptized there, and so was grandma, and so forth. So the pastor baptizes that baby knowing full well that it will not be raised in the faith and just as predicted, that baby never comes back to church. Fast forward some sixty years and that baby is now an old man dying of cancer. He starts thinking about his need for religion and then goes back to that church and explains to the pastor his troubles and that he was baptized there and develops a bond and is saved. For that man, his infant baptism saved him.

Why?

Personally, I think it has to do with knowledge of history. When death comes knocking at one’s door, the one who has been baptized, has something they can fall back on. Even if they never spent another moment in a church after that, they automatically have knowledge of a place they can go. They automatically have a place they can reach out to. Now, let’s contrast that to the baby who isn’t baptized. They’re sixty years old and dying of cancer. They start thinking about religion, but they really don’t have a place to go. To them, there are just a million different churches and beliefs. That, I imagine, would have to be overwhelming. Despairing. That infant that was baptized, they’ve got an immediate direction. They’re more likely to reach out.

So, ignoring all scriptural reasons to baptize infants, there is still a case to be made to do it. To not baptize infants is to do your fellow man a great disservice.

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What do you want?

I recently listened to the first episode of Fighting for the Faith I have in a long time. I didn’t stop because I grew tired of the program or anything. I just didn’t have time. Sorry, Chris Rosebrough, but when you have a wife and two small children, it’s difficult to fit in a daily two to three hour show. Anyhow, the episode was called Rosebrough’s Ramblings on Coram Deo. At the twenty-five minute mark, he starts discussing Romans 6. In this, he mentions how he was in class with Dr. Rod Rosenbladt and how when the gospel was preached, he was still in his old Nazarene mindset. So he went to Dr. Rosenbladt and said, “You’re saying if I’m saved by grace, I can do whatever I want.”

I’d like to take a moment to point you towards the banner at the top of the page. You’ll notice a quote from Augustine.

Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.

I’ve had that banner up there for quite sometime, since I started the site, really. I just always loved the quote and it made sense, but I never really quite thought about what exactly it meant until I listened to this episode of Fighting for the Faith.

Dr. Rosenbladt replied, “Well of course. Now that you’ve been set free from sin, death, and the devil, what do you want to do?”

And suddenly, it was all so clear to me. I realize that there is a difference between doing what you want and doint what you feel like. Ever notice how actually doing what you want leaves you sense of pride or accomplishment while just doing what you feel like can at times leave you feeling pretty low? I want to help those in need. I feel like drinking all the booze. One of those will probably leave me feeling pretty good about myself. The other may leave me a little disappointed the next day. Romans 7:15 helps to explain.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

When we are in the grace of Christ, all we want to do is what is good. Now, we may feel like doing some pretty awful things from time to time. We may even do some pretty awful things from time to time. But we don’t want to do them. Instead, we want to do what is good. This is where the third use of the law comes into play. It helps to shape the Christian to do what is right.

So as a Christian under the grace of God, by all means, go forth and do whatever you want.

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Putting It All Together

My original title for this was going to be something along the lines of, “Why not Peter with Jesus.” The basic premise was this. Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus. Jesus heals Malchus. Soldiers do not arrest Peter and execute him with Jesus. I started thinking about this incident yesterday and how to me Peter not being arrested made no sense and if you only read John, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”[a] Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus[b] said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant[c] and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews[d] arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door.

John 18:3 – 16

Can you imagine that conversation?

Malchus: “Holy crap! That crazy Jew just cut off my ear!”

Soldier: “Stop being such a baby Malchus. It’s just a flesh wound. You’ll be fine.”

Malchus: “Are….are you sure?”

Soldier: “Yes, Malchus.”

Malchus: “Oh, okay. If, if you say so.”

Doesn’t seem terribly plausible does it. But without any other information, what are we to assume? The Romans wouldn’t put up with this. Peter would be right there with Jesus on Cross. There wouldn’t be any ifs, ands, or buts about it. Thankfully, Luke gives us a few more details on the matter.

47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant[h] of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.

Luke 22:47 – 54

Okay, Jesus heals the dude. Pretty incredible and it seems plausible that they would be so awestruck by what they witness that they may have forgotten about Peter. Then again, these were Roman soldiers, so it doesn’t seem that plausible.

Soldier One: “That guy cut off Malchus’ ear!”

Soldier Two: “Yeah, but this Jesus guy made it all better.”

Soldier One: “I don’t care! He attacked a Roman soldier and cut off is ear. That’s not gonna fly.”

This conversation seems much more likely, but again, the guards don’t go after Peter. As awestruck as they may have been, there’s still simply no way that they wouldn’t have arrested Peter on the spot. They’d have been all like, “Well, that was cool. Still, we can’t have you running around mucking things up now, can we. You’re clearly a threat to Rome. Off with us you come.” Perhaps one of the other Gospels could shed some more light on the subject matter.

47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”[f] Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Matthew 26:47 – 56

Oh, thank you, Matthew. Luke and John suddenly make more sense now. The disciples suddenly running away ties everything together quite well. Peter cuts off an ear, Jesus heals it, and in all of it the disciples scatter. The Roman soldiers are all like, “Wut!?” but in the end, they got what they came for. Malchus is fine and Peter is presumably gone. What are they to gain by sending resources after him? How are they to convince Pontius of using their resources to find him?

Soldier: “They cut Malchus’ ear off.”
Pontius eyes Malchus suspiciously.
Malchus: “I got better.”

When you put Luke, John, and Matthew together, Peter not being crucified with Jesus doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore. Like Chris Rosebrough says on Fighting for the Faith, the three rules for good discernment are context, context, context.

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Did God create transgender? (2)

First off, let me apologize for the poorness of the this reblog. I accidentally clicked on the wrong blog when I went to reblog this originally and now it won’t allow me to do so on the proper page. Good job, WordPress. Anyhow, to the point at hand, the blog post shared discusses how we are to act in our fallen state vs how we do act in our fallen state. Considering this particular post on Eiler’s Pizza and the recent post on Comprehending Hell from Churchmouse Campanologist, I think Genesis 5:3 sufficiently answers both. To put it simply, when we find that we can’t get up to God’s level, we try to bring him down to ours. By that, I do not mean to our human level but to our own individual personal level. It becomes all about me and everyone else including God himself be damned.

There’s probably a sermon in that somewhere.

Here’s the post.

Part two: Now how shall we live?

In part one, from the Holy Bible I answered the title question with a clear, “No, God did not create transgender people.”

If God were responsible for creating me as transgender—for creating a person to have Down Syndrome, or autism, or twins to be conjoined, or any variation with which a person might enter the world, I will no longer believe in Him; He is not the God of love and mercy as He describes Himself. Rather, He would be nothing more than a mad scientist, one who enjoys zapping us with every difficult and terrible thing in order to watch us run around like chickens with our heads cut off.

He did not create us this way so that we are born with or acquire many and various things which do not meet the definition of “good.” In part one, I showed from the Holy Bible that all variations in humans arose from Adam’s disobedience, causing us to be fallen and fractured and mortal. That question answered, this one follows: “Now how shall we live?” which breaks down into a twofold, “How shall I act?” and, “How shall I treat others?”

As God in Christ is the Lord of all creation, considering no one…

Click to continue reading…

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Our inability to comprehend hell — and God

Churchmouse Campanologist recently posted about our ability to comprehend Hell better than I ever could. I encourage you to read his great post on this difficult subject.

Churchmouse Campanologist

My past few posts have discussed hell:

John MacArthur on hell

Hell on low — or no — heat (20th century history)

Christian views on hell: moving back to Origen

J C Ryle on hell (19th century, first Anglican Bishop of Liverpool)

The second one in the series has several quotes from 20th and 21st century pastors and theologians who have downplayed hell and questioned eternal punishment in the life to come.

One of my readers, Brad Grierson, who kindly reblogged the aforementioned post on Origen, commented:

I think Hell often gets downplayed because it is so difficult to imagine. The mind cannot rightly comprehend an eternity of suffering so it comes up with ideas that are more familiar to it such as a temporal prison sentence or that it simply doesn’t exist at all. In a way, this is how heresy springs up: we cannot fully…

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Did God create transgender?

I’ve re-blogged various posts from Eiler’s Pizza before and this occasion is no different. I’m sure you’ve read some of his posts before if you’ve come to my blog on multiple occasions. If not, then you may be surprised to know that this former LCMS pastor suffers from a condition called gender-dysphoria. Now, even though he has taken steps towards gender reassignment, his  conscience is still bound by scripture. In this post of his, he does not take the side of many on in the LBGT movement in regards to whether God made him that way. In fact, he states just the opposite. God did not make him that way though he was born that way. In a way, you could say his post is a more thought out and more detailed version of my own post titled, Yes, You Were Born That Way. I encourage you to give it a read.

Eilers Pizza

Part one: God’s Word and trans origins

To answer the title question, I will provide a straightforward reading of the Holy Bible. I am a traditional Christian who reads Scripture as it has been read since antiquity. Everything I present is not an interpretation but what the Holy Bible states, and the conclusions I reach are both theologically sound and scientifically responsible. Those who read Scripture with a different lens might see differently, and those who use other texts likely will arrive at different answers. I will gladly discuss any disagreement.

I use descriptors—normal and abnormal—which bother many people. I use these only to differentiate between the very good initial creation of God and the fallen creation after Adam’s disobedience. Never will I use “normal” to advance anyone or “abnormal” to put down anyone. It will be vital to retain this so that my conclusions might be given a fair…

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Christian views on hell: moving back to Origen

This was a great post on a blog that I follow. Perhaps I shall do a blog post at a later date with my thoughts on the ability to rightly comprehend Heaven, Hell, death, and the afterlife in general. For the moment though, I believe my comment in the post (which I have also pasted just below) sums up my thoughts nicely.

I think Hell often gets downplayed because it is so difficult to imagine. The mind cannot rightly comprehend an eternity of suffering so it comes up with ideas that are more familiar to it such as a temporal prison sentence or that it simply doesn’t exist art all. In a way, this is how heresy springs up: we cannot fully comprehend so we make it something we can comprehend.

Churchmouse Campanologist

This follows on from Monday’s post about hell. Please note that there is an adult image and disturbing content in this entry.

In the 1970s my secondary school religion teachers taught that Origen was a heretic and that the Church declared him as well as his teachings anathema. In short, they said that Origen started out as a devout Christian then went off-piste.

My mother told me the same thing years before.

Today, Origen seems to be all the rage. The modern Church has rehabilitated his reputation, and clergy are encouraging us to adopt his beliefs.

Two of Origen’s beliefs concern hell and universalism. Origen held that hell was temporary, akin to a very long-term purgatory, and wrote that there will come a point in eternity when God will accept the population of hell — including Satan — to heaven.

Is that what the Bible says?

As far…

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Let’s Sing Megadeth Songs in Church

Who doesn’t love listening to Megadeth? One of the greatest thrash metal bands of all time with good wholesome Christian lyrics to boot. What? You didn’t realize that they were a Christian praise band? Well, that’s because they’re not. They’re a secular in your face thrash metal band with lyrics that often focus on religion and politics. The frontman, Dave Mustaine, however, did convert to Christianity in the early 2000s I believe it was. It didn’t change how they play, what they played (well, there are a few old songs they don’t play anymore because of it), or even the themes that they play. They still heavily focus on religion and politics. But if you listen carefully to the lyrics, you can hear Dave’s theology creep in. The strange thing is, it’s much, much better theology at a Megadeth concert than you can from the praise music sung in many churches.

Let’s do some comparison work, shall we. I’ll start of with some lyrics from This is the Air I Breathe by Michael W. Smith. This is sung in churches. As worship music.

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me
This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me
And I I’m desperate for you
And I I’m lost without you

This goes on over and over again. This is your basic seven eleven song. What I mean by that is that there is no substance to the lyrics, it is basically seven words repeated eleven times. I wasn’t joking that it goes on over and over again. Those are the only lyrics in this “praise” song. On the other hand, we have Megadeth’s Never Walk Alone…A Call To Arms. Here’s a sample. By the way, for reference, the song appears to be written from the point of view of Christ.

When you feel that something’s wrong
I’ll shelter you and keep you warm
I’ll never let you walk alone
I loved you when you still hated me
I’m coming and it won’t be long
Time to reap what I have sown
Never ever let you walk alone
I know your enemy, it once was me

Wow. There’s like no comparison. This is just the chorus of the song and in it we have the mercy and compassion of Christ despite our sin and disobedience. We have the second coming. It has our rebellion. It even has salvation. Let’s look at another verse.

Let me wrap my arms all around you
Suffer the trespasses that you’ve made
I will drink your pain away, forever and a day
If you just call out my name – even whisper it

Here we have Christ taking our sins onto himself. Honestly, the only part I really take issue with is that last line, but that’s because it puts our salvation on something we do. My point is not that Megadeth is a great theological powerhouse. I honestly disagree with a lot of Dave Mustaine’s theology. Listening to other songs, it’s very clear that he believes in a lot of what you might find in the Left Behind series. Honestly, if you’re a band as political as Megadeth and your leader suddenly becomes a Christian, it’s not really surprising that he would see a lot of New World Order stuff in Biblical prophecy. No, my point is that how can Christian praise music be almost universally terrible when it comes to actual cross centered theology while a secular band can nail it so much better? No, I don’t want to hear Megadeth in church. The hymns we’ve got in the LCMS are far superior when it comes to sound theology. It’s just a damn shame so much of the praise music that’s out there really has nothing Christian about it.

On an amusing side note, Megadeth’s bassist David Ellefson is a member of the LCMS. To my knowledge he does work in regards to writing hymns for the church as well as is taking part in seminary studying for ministry. Come on Ellefson! Bring Mustaine over to the LCMS. Get him some better theology. Let’s hear a Megadeth rendition of A Mighty Fortress is Our God on an album someday. 😛

For those curious, here is the official video for the song Never Walk Alone…A Call to Arms. Ignore the fact that the video portion is terrible. Metal music videos, like Christian praise bands, are almost universally terrible.

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I May be a Metal Head, but I’m Still Rock ‘N’ Roll

Who would win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God?

Trick question. Lemmy is God.

The above statement you have just read is a question occasionally used to determine if someone is legitimately rock ‘n’ roll. Lemmy Kilmister, for those of you who don’t know, was the front man for the heavy metal rock band known as Motörhead. A true legend if there ever was one, Lemmy created some of the greatest rock music ever recorded. He also lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle harder than anyone. From a diet almost exclusively of meat and potatoes (he claimed he tried vegetables once and didn’t like them), to a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of cigarettes nearly every single day of his life, and to having sex with over three thousand woman (claimed), he was the sin of rock music that our parents warned us about. In the eyes of a rebellious youth, it’s not hard to see how Lemmy is God.

Lemmy was something of a medical anomaly as well. Up until the last few years, he seemed to be in perfect health. Doctors and scientists couldn’t explain it. His lifestyle was the exact opposite of healthy and yet his body was running great. One’s actions have a way of catching up them, however. A few years ago, all sorts of health problems began to manifest themselves and they came quickly. So much so that he had to change his unhealthy lifestyle. When he was diagnosed with diabetes, for the sake of his health, he gave up his Jack Daniels and switched to a bottle of vodka a day.

One thing that was quite interesting about Motörhead is that though they fit very well into the heavy metal category, Lemmy hated that label. The whole concept of subgenres was foolishness to him. As far as he was concerned, Motörhead played rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, they would start their concerts with, “We are Motörhead and we play rock ‘n’ roll.” And this is where I get to the meat of my post.

I’m a metal head. I love metal. But it’s still rock music. I think it’s the best rock music and the label of metal helps to define that. My faith is very much the same way. I am a Lutheran. The Lutheran faith defines what I believe. Lutheranism, however, falls underneath the label of Christian. Other denominations such as Baptist or Calvinist for example can be considered Christian brothers and sisters because we hold to the same basic belief that Christ died for us sinners and it is through him in which we are saved. Yet our beliefs differ enough that we need labels like Lutheran and Calvinist because there are issues of faith which we do disagree on, in many cases, vehemently disagree. Despite such disagreements, those of different denominations can still be our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even if I believe that Lutheranism is the correct one.

That’s not to say that all who claim to be Christian are our brothers and sisters. Metaphorically speaking, the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and various other “Christian” groups are the Nickelback and Avril Lavigne of Christianity. You’ll never find Nickelback in any rock playlist of mine (or really any playlist of mine for that matter) and you’ll never here me refer to a Mormon as my Christian brother.

Lemmy died two days ago. Supposedly from a super aggressive cancer. In reality, he died of his sins and most likely in his sins. Jesus on the other hand died because of our sins and for our sins. That is something all Christians can agree on, even if they don’t agree on everything.

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It’s Not a Soup

I love canned soup. While a lot of people have a disdain for it, I personally think it’s wonderful. It’s convenient, simple, fits nicely in my lunch bag, and is easily disposable. So when Campbell’s started introducing flavors of other foods I love, I got excited. Cheesy quesadilla. Hearty pizza. And others. It sounded too awesome to be true. I love pizza and quesadillas, but they’re not exactly easy to fit into a lunch bag. It turns out that it was too good to be true. They tasted awful, nothing really like the actual foods. It turns out that repackaging one food as another good is generally a pretty bad idea. In theory it sounds good, but in practice it’s kind of gross.

And yet so often we repackage Jesus as a life coach, a buddy, a financial adviser, a dietitian, and even a creepy bearded girlfriend. Why? It’s never as good as the original. Sure, he might be more convenient that way, but you’ll probably end up disappointed before long.

I’ll take pizza as it is. I don’t need to sacrifice quality in the name of convenience.

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