Tag Archives: Grace

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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Every Christian is a backslider

You hear this term a lot in American Christianity: backslider. It gets thrown around so often that people recognize this as a Christian term, though when you think about it, it could really be applied to just about anything. Here’s my problem with the term backslider. The context in which it is used indicates a falling back into sin. It implies that one has achieved perfection because how can you slide back into sin if you haven’t eliminated sin completely. Obviously, this isn’t quite what they mean, but it is unfortunately what it implies. So let’s take a look at what they do mean. Generally speaking, what they actually mean is that one is not acting like a Christian. For example, one who has been saved by the grace of God has started getting drunk all the time or chasing after lustful desires might be called a backslider. This person, in their eyes, is falling away and needs to be brought back into the fold so to speak. There’s a problem with this definition too. The problem with this definition is that all Christians are backsliders.

Truth be told, Christians make pretty terrible Christians. The reason is because we just keep sinning. We can’t stop it because we love it too much. That old Adam in us is just like, “Gimme, gimme, gimme!” The new Adam in us certainly helps us to subdue and suppress our sinful nature, but the old Adam fights back. He wants that sin and he makes sure we do so everyday, even in the most subtle ways. So, since we consistently AND constantly fall into sin, by their definition, every Christian is a backslider. And if they applied it that way (which they don’t) they would be correct every time they used it because every single Christian is a backslider. By the very fact that we are all “backsliders” and at the same time saved by Christ’s shed blood on the cross, therefore righteous in God’s eyes, we are simul iustus et peccator, that is at the same time sinner and saint. Though we are wretched depraved sinners, perpetually backslidden until we die or Christ makes his triumphant return, we are justified through his shed blood on the cross. To quote Martin Luther –

“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”

― Martin Luther

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Making it personal

Perhaps one of the most common things heard when it comes to a conversion to Christianity is the making of Jesus one’s personal savior.  Someone who is already a Christian might say, ” When I was ‘fifteen, I made Jesus my personal savior.”  Really?  You can do that?  Right before an altar call, you’ll often hear, “If you’re ready to make Jesus Christ your personal savior, then I want you to come down to the altar blah, blah, blah…”  No, seriously?  Can you really do that?  When reading a tract that was given to you or you found lying about somewhere, at the end it may say, “If you want to make Jesus your personal savior, than say this prayer…”  Wow!  Apparently you can do that.

Or maybe you can’t.

Here’s the main problem with making Jesus your personal savior; you can’t do it.  I could tell you to believe me.  I know.  I tried.  I’m living proof that you can’t make Jesus your personal savior.  The thing is, I’m a pretty piss-poor reason as to why you can’t make Jesus your personal savior.  I mean, just because I couldn’t doesn’t mean you can’t, right?  Well, let’s take a look at the problems with making Jesus your personal savior.

First of all, if you were to make Jesus Christ your personal savior, than that would be a work that you would do.  In fact, it would be such a powerful work that you do that it would render his entire sacrifice on the cross useless.  In effect, Jesus would be able to have stood on the sidelines, sinned, not have to be God, not have to be human, etc. and just said, “Hey, pick me!”  This wouldn’t end with Jesus, either.  The language of making Jesus your personal savior indicates that logically, you could pick anyone or anything to be your personal savior and everything will turn out dandy.  But you can’t just pick anyone.  In fact, you can’t even pick Jesus.  And there’s another reason for that.

Jesus IS your personal savior.  When he died on the cross for the sins of all the world, he became your personal savior because he is the ONLY savior.  There is nothing else in this world that can save you from your sin.  Sure, you can reject him, but you can’t choose to make him your savior because he already is.  I didn’t choose to make Jesus Christ my savior.  He already was.  And he gave me my faith.

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“But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

This is a great thing to read. In light of everything going on in Iraq, this is extremely comforting.

The Old Adam Lives!

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– Romans 5:8

Years ago I sat with a couple who were preparing for marriage. The young woman ran through a lengthy list of all the reasons she could think of as to why she loved her fiance’. He was generous, hard-working, handsome, thoughtful, funny, and so forth. When it was time for the young man to speak he said,” I don’t need a reason to love her. I just love her.” He was not far from the Kingdom!

When we examine the Bible it does not provide us with God’s reasons for loving. Nowhere is there an assessment of humanity from God’s vantage point where He lists our numerous virtues as reason for loving us. If anything, the Bible is a collection of evidence that suggests there is not much lovable about us. Our generous self-assessments are not reflected in the mirror of heaven. This is…

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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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