Category Archives: Gospel

Thanksgiving

The Lord Jesus Christ has defeated death.  He has triumphed over sin. As such, we should be joyful with thanksgiving always. For without Christ there is no hope. We would be slaves to our sin. And though the Devil makes repeated attempts to catch us in his snare, we can rest assured that Jesus Christ has already cut the rope. Sure, we might trip over it as we sinful beings are wont to do, but it will not fling us into the air and dangle us from our ankle.

Lord Jesus Christ, it is with great thanksgiving for your shed blood on the cross that we come to you. Without your sinless life combined with your sacrifice and resurrection, we would be rightfully cursed to the pit where Satan and his angels reside. Thank you for Holy baptism that when I stumble, I can look on it and say, “Yes, Christ died for me. I am saved.” There is none greater you. May your Holy named continue to bless us all. Amen.

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The real altar call

I’ve spoken in the past on how damaging an altar call can be, but what I didn’t speak on was that there is a very real altar call that is wonderful indeed.  Every Sunday, God calls us to his altar to receive his body and blood.  Not just a representation of body and blood, but actual body and blood.    This very real body and blood is given for the very real forgiveness of sins.  Not only that, the real altar call is true proclamation of the gospel.

 So as you can see, the altar call, the real altar call, is a very sacred right instituted by God himself.  It is not a call to unbelievers to receive Jesus into their hearts.  NO!  It is a call from God himself to believers.  A call to us from God every single week to receive his body and blood and forgiveness of sins.  Holy communion.  The Lord’s supper.  The sacraments.  This is the real altar call.  And it’s the only altar call that proclaims gospel and the forgiveness of sins.

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An unnatural death

What if I told you that no one has ever died of natural causes?  Would you be a little skeptical?  What if I told you that everyone has been killed by the exact same thing?  You’d probably think me to be a liar or a maniac.  Yet, if I told you these things, I would correct.  And I can prove it to you.  The key is in Genesis 2:17.  That passage in reference discusses the consequences of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the consequences being death.  Now, the passage doesn’t say they will immediately die or die that instant, it just says that they will surely die.  That passage is key because it implies that there was no death.  It just didn’t happen.  Death is not something that naturally occurs in the world.  So then, what causes death?

There is only one thing causes death and that is sin.  While things like illness, murder, natural disaster, accidents, etc. can all result in death, the only reason someone dies is because of sin.  Romans 5:12 spells this out to us clearly when it tells us that death comes from sin.  So from these two passages we see two things.  Death is completely unnatural AND the reason we die is because of sin.  Without sin, there is no death.  Grandma didn’t die of old age.  She was killed by sin.  Cancer didn’t take your father’s life.  Sin took it.  The bullet didn’t kill your friend.  The sin killed your friend.  Those people didn’t die in a flood.  They died because of sin. All death is the result of sin.  You will die because of sin.  You cannot stop it.  There is nothing you can do.

Thankfully, there is one who did not sin.  Jesus Christ.  He lived completely sinless.  By all logic, he could not die.  There was no sin in him.  And yet, he died on the cross.  But how?  He died because he took all your sins upon and into himself.  He died because of you.  And because your sin has been taken from you and placed into the body of Jesus Christ, God does not see your sin.  When you die, though Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, your sin will not be seen.  Oh, sin will still kill you, but upon death, instead of being dragged to where sin is sent to be extinguished, you will be taken to where sin does not exist.  You will never see the second death because you will have no sin because the one who was sinless took your sin and had it nailed to a Roman cross.

Though you die an unnatural death, be blessed in knowing that it is not counted against you as it should.

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The damage of the altar call

The altar call is a relatively new development in Christianity. It was popularized by Billy Graham (the evangelist, not the wrestler). On its face it may seem like a good thing. You’ve all heard the preachers before, I’m sure. At the end of the sermon, they say something along the lines of, “If you’re ready to give your life to Jesus, why don’t you come up here and pray with us to ask Jesus into your heart.” Sure, it sounds sweet and like a noble gesture, but there’s really no biblical grounds for it. In fact, the altar call predicates that there is something you must do to be saved. You must invite him to save you. That actually diminishes the gospel. It essentially claims that Jesus can’t save you without your help. In a way, it’s a direct contradiction to scripture effectively denying that Jesus does it all for you.

So then, what does the altar call do to the body of Christ? My friends, it is my whole belief that the altar call can only bring despair when it brings anything at all. It cannot bring someone to faith. It may affirm someone’s faith that they already have, but never grant it. And for the rest it can only bring despair. In fact, the altar call is what nearly drove me away from Christianity. Dropping to my knees week after week of inviting Christ into my life, asking him to change me, and nothing happened. “If you are sincere,” they say, “he will change you.” Nope. Not true. I was totally sincere as were countless others. This cycle leads to despair, wondering what you are doing wrong. I learned that there was one thing I was doing wrong. I was believing there was something I had to do or something that I could do.

When I was on the verge of giving up Christianity and declaring it all bunk, someone shared with me a link to a new radio program that was just starting. From there, I learned the true gospel. I learned that there was nothing I could do. I learned that it was all Christ. And that was an enormous weight off of my shoulders. My friends, Christ has done it all. There is nothing you can do. Rejoice in that, because if you have to accept, invite, or do anything else for Jesus, then you’d fail and that’s not gospel at all.

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The abuse of grace

As Christians, we have been given the greatest gift anyone could ever hope to receive; the grace of God.  There is no greater or more merciful gift than this.  So, why is it that we so often treat it as a simple wad of used toilet paper?  Have we become so desensitized that we do not recognize sin?  Do we forget that God does not work on a sliding scale?  Somehow we take up righteous causes fighting against the great evils of abortion and homosexual marriage and yet we trivialize our own sins which are just as egregious.  “Jesus Christ,” the Christian man shouts at his friend as he stubs his toe.  “Why the f*** did you leave that there!?”  According to the law, this man has just committed blasphemy and murder in his heart, whether he intended to or not.  “That f***in’ b******!” he shouts at the car who just cut him off, forcing him to dangerously slam on his brakes.  Let us not forget the woman whom he looks at lustfully or his neighbor’s fancy BBQ grill that he wishes he had.  Covetousness and lust.  These and all other manner of sins should grieve the Christian the moment they enter his heart, but more often than not, they pushed to the side.  Out of sight, out of mind as it goes.

Every Sunday he goes to church and corporately confesses his sins.  There, his part is done.  He is absolved.  Go Jesus!  But the life of a Christian is that of perpetual repentance and forgiveness.  This is why we should study the scriptures daily.  So that daily we can be convicted of our sins.  So that daily we can be repentant of our sins.  So that daily we can know the forgiveness that is Jesus Christ.  So that daily we can go to bed with a clean conscience knowing that Jesus Christ paid for our sins.  The Christian needs this because though he can never atone for his sins himself, he is not given a license to sin.  Nowhere in scripture does it say, “Sin freely that grace may abound!”  In fact, Romans 6 says just the opposite.  To willfully continue in sin is to say that Christ is not in us.  Though we are simul iustus et peccator, that is simultaneously sinner and saint, when we do sin, we should be deeply grieved and troubled by it.  We should be repentant.  And then, we should look to our baptism and remember that Christ has forgiven us all of our sins, even these ones.  And we should rest easy knowing this and try not to abuse what has been given to us.

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God doesn’t take bribes

Christianity an interesting thing when it comes to Salvation.  Unlike other religions, you can’t buy God off.  He’s not Allah with a set of scales weighing your deeds.  For example, if you kick your neighbor’s dog, you can’t do a bunch of nice things to tip the balance in your favor.  He won’t take your sacrifices as appeasement for your wrongs.  Sorry dude, God doesn’t care how much money your surrender or how many virgins you sacrifice (though Satan might if you’re living in a horror movie).  He doesn’t even want your first born like Moloch.  No, in Christianity, one single solitary sin pretty much condemns you and you can’t bribe God to let you off the hook.  So Jesus did it for you.  He took the punishment for your sins.  He did not sin.  He lived perfectly.  And as such, his sacrifice was the only sacrifice worthy of God’s forgiveness.  God doesn’t take bribes but he lets you off the hook for the sake of his Son, Jesus Christ.  He forgives you for your sins, not because you did anything at all to get that forgiveness, but because Jesus Christ acted as the substitutionary atonement that you could never provide.

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You can’t live the gospel

Sometimes I’ll hear Christians say that we need to live the gospel. To which my response is, “What?”  Seriously think about that for a moment.  Such a task is absurd.  You can’t do it.  It’s impossible.  Let’s take a look at what it would take to live the gospel.

First, you’d have to be born without sin.  I’m relatively sure that you all failed that.  Then, you have to live your life completely without sin, an even harder task than the first.  After that, you need to be sacrificed for everyone else’s sins. And finally, you have to come back from the dead (good luck with that) while simultaneously forgiving the sins of everyone who condemned you to die in the first place.  Assuming you actually made it to the resurrection part, you’re probably going to be just a wee bit vengeful upon your return what with the whole living perfectly and being executed because people are jerks part.

You can’t live the gospel, but that’s probably for the best.  The good news is that Jesus did live the gospel and not only that, he IS the gospel.  As I said, you can’t live the gospel, but you can go forth and make disciples, and that’s something Jesus actually commanded you to do.

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God doesn’t give second chances

In this life, you only get one chance. If you screw it up, you don’t get to try again, despite what Super Mario Bros 3 may tell you. Such is the way of God. He is righteous and just and as a righteous and just God, he requires absolute perfection. And that’s how the world was created, perfectly. And then sin entered the world. Notice that word; entered. Sin was not a part of this world. Sin entered the world. And it tainted everything. And because we have sinned, we are rightly condemned. We don’t get to try again. We blew it. We blew it without even trying. That’s how tainted we are.

But something happened. One man somehow made it through life without sin. The taint didn’t touch him as it had touched all else. And then, when he was executed, he took the punishment for all of our sin for all time all at once. That man was God wrapped in human flesh, the Son Jesus Christ. And with that sacrifice, God just looks the other way from your sins and simply says, “Nope. Didn’t happen.”

Christ paid the price for your sins because you couldn’t.  You don’t get any second chances and through the grace and mercy of God, you don’t need one.

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There is Only One Gospel

Despite how people may think, there are not four gospels in the Bible; there’s only one. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not each speak of a different gospel. In fact, there is no gospel of any of these these writers. The only gospel there is is that of Jesus Christ who was born of the virgin Mary, executed on the cross by Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day for your sins. Perhaps the books of our four gospel writers would better be listed as “Mark’s Account of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” as opposed to the “The Gospel of Mark.”

Remember, there’s only one gospel and if anyone comes to you preaching another, let him be anathema.

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Inspirational People

If you were to take a look at my Facebook, there’s a particular section that might worry you, specifically the section of people who inspire me.  I mean, it’s just got some perfectly reasonable human beings.  Martin Luther.  Jeffrey Dahmer.  David Berkowitz.  Wait, what?  Did I just seriously put The Milwaukee Cannibal and The Son of Sam on a list of people who inspire me?  Well yes I did.

These are two of the most famous serial killers of our time.  To many, they are the embodiment of evil.  So what makes them so inspiring?  It’s that Christ forgave them.  These wicked evil men, men so evil that society deems them worse than the devil himself, were given repentance and faith through Jesus Christ.  And if Jesus can bring them to salvation, he can do the same for me.

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