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Ted Tschopp

Dr. Rod, I had him as a pastor. He was an amazing pastor and an amazing teacher. I one day someone in the church noted that his sermon was very simular to his bible studies and to the sermon he had preached the previous week. His response was that this was true, the hardest part of his job as a pastor was that he had to keep coming up with new ways to the same thing over and over and over again.

sandra

what, then, do we make of the verse that tells us to be perfect???

Steve

Sandra:

We must be perfect. What is the only way a Holy God will accept us. Jesus commanded us to be perfect as our Father in heaven. The command to be prefect is to show us the fact that we cannot be perfrect. We cannot obtain what God demands.

However, we cannot be perfect since we are all sinners. This is why the doctrine of justification is so important. Christ was perfect for us. We take on his perfection so that God see us a perfect through Christ's righteousness.

Someone must be perfect and keep all of the Law in order to satify the demands of God. Jesus did want we cannot do so that we can be what we could never obtain through our own efforts.

This is the Gospel.

Larry - KY

Dear Brother,

This is a parallel story in my own life. Change a few of the details and I promise you it’s as if we lived parallel lives. As I read your words, not to be touchy feely, but I felt every syllable. I’ve experience and expressed the same thing, but as a differing shade.

At the ripe old age of 33 I was converted to Christianity from rank atheism/agnosticism one day going to work in a moments time. Some pastor had literally placarded Christ crucified before my very eyes and it was literally like drawing a first breath of life. That’s the good news. The bad was how a literally lost Christ in the noise of Southern Baptist teaching and piety over the next 7 years of ever increasing hell. The devil didn’t take long to begin. After my moment I just knew I HAD to be baptized. Not knowing anything other than a bit of SB since that’s what my family had been. So, I approached my mother to be baptized in the local SB church they belonged loosely too. There began the covering up of Christ and the devil does his work well.

It started right out of the gate with the meeting with the pastor. Keep in mind I had just had a clear and powerful placarding of Christ crucified for me by an anonymous to this day radio preacher at 5 am in the morning on my way to work that had quickened me. Then, I had to of course ‘pray the prayer with the pastor’, because under baptistic policy ‘you must have faith first’ (more tyranny). I immediately was confused because just prior to that I was so desires and glad of Christ for me, this thing I NEEDED TO DO, pray the prayer, immediately began to obscure Christ from my sight. Then I was instructed about coming forward at the next Sunday. In between the pastor’s meeting I had also met with a deacon/friend and we “prayed the prayer” first, so that was twice I had to perform this work of proving faith. That Sunday I came forward but was terrified because I’m really not a very public kind of person and was afraid, I kid you not, the idea that I might not go forward for fear of publicly doing so added to the idea that was growing in my mind; that I would be lost again and damned forever. I feared myself so much that I would not “do” this thing that I would be condemned forever not being able to “do” this one bold thing. You begin to see the seeds of the devil’s deception toward works in the Christian life. The path of loosing Christ Crucified had begun and it ironically begun IN the church, the very place that ought to be the mother’s womb of the child of God, the safe house for the sinner. But, never-the-less, I nervously came forward and you guessed it, we prayed the pray one MORE time, gotta make sure there’s faith since baptism in that system is a merit badge for having faith. Then the training began, not repreaching the Gospel but NOW teaching what I needed to start doing. I was given a Christian pamphlet called “The Christian Survival Guide”, a miserable piece of literature minus the scriptures pulled out of context. I still have it to this day as a reminder. This is given rather than pastoral help because after all, now that you are in, you don’t need Christ anymore, you need to GET busy killing sin within and evangelizing. And that didn’t take long to fall apart and hide Christ even more as my old sins, surprise, didn’t disappear over night, or the next weeks, months, years…in fact some of them got worse and sins I didn’t know I had began to become clear to me. I was sure I was not going to be saved and increasingly, again given baptistic policy, sure I never REALLY had faith and God was exercising wrath on me.

Then I was married and we moved to another church more deplorable than the last. In which it was a mishmash of charisma and old SB thought mixed into one big mega church. It was a Saddleback duplicate (about 2000) and pretty big for the area, a growing “on fire for the Lord” church. I went through so much crap teachings there its hard to enumerate. A few: The Bondage Breaker series, Prayer of Jabez, varieties of experiencing God…then there was the pilgrimage to Promise Keepers…all to conquer sin and become “empowered”. From PK I began a strict regiment of praying 1 to 3 hours every morning because they spoke of “going into the glory presence of God” as a victorious power and I wanted that over my sins and boldness. It’s hard to sustain that kind of prayer I can tell you that, very hard. Try enumerating your sins in confession and don’t forget with passion and emotion repenting of them while you feel your draw toward them. An impossible task at best! I probably hit 45 minutes to 1 hour 90% of the time and 2 or 3 hours occasionally, which I viewed as the reason it wasn’t working, I couldn’t make the high water mark…too weak! Then there was the plethora of works of DOING missions and open evangelism because the REAL “on fire for the Lord” Christian is DOING DOING DOING, especially missions and evangelism. You don’t want to be one of those sub/maybe Christians called “pew sitters”, you gotta be busy if you’re a REAL Christian. It may sound like I’m against missions and evangelism, not so, just against its idolatry in obscuring Christ and becomes mere proselytizing. IN fact I would argue that as busy as we were we did zero to no missions and evangelism, even though we were DOING it all the time, because there was no Evangel in any of it. The irony of it all is, in terms of DOING, I was doing more than the pastors and asst. pastors demanding this very work. On a works level I was working harder than most of them. So, I took an in country mission trip to Salt Lake. For some reason no victory for such a dedicated work was to be had. I assumed it was because it was not risky enough like over seas, the “is it enough” factor is always there quantity, quality and magnitude. I did street visiting evangelism, if you want to call what we did proclaiming the Gospel, in hind sight it was not! Strangely, THIS, didn’t give me the victory either. This is about where utter despair began to sit in. I should also mention that a constant parallel to this, again you have to understand baptist “doctrine” on baptism to really grasp it, I was constantly, incessantly repraying the prayer, rededicating ONE MORE TIME, and rewalking the aisle ONE MORE TIME. Roman Catholicism would have been much easier! The issue underlying it all, the REAL deception of the devil was underlying in baptism. That fueled everything. More on that to come.

Constant hounding thoughts, every single waking and working hour of my life, of, “you must really have never really HAD saving faith and your baptism was false came in, do I need to be re-baptized”. This hounded me constantly, the only peace I had was while asleep, but from the moment I would awake until I’d force myself to sleep, I’m not exaggerating, this hounded me…my wife could vouch for it. It consumed me constantly, no rest at all from it. The baptism issue is wherein began the tornado from hell and greatest device of the devil! How do I know that RIGHT NOW I REALLY have this saving faith wherein I may have a legitimate baptism? Because given all my other commitment “Dos” that NEVER brought enough proof to satisfy my soul that I really HAD saving faith, how in the world could I be sure AT THIS MOMENT that I may go and get a legitimate baptism? Do you see the hellishness the devil creates there? It’s an impossible demand to move forward, and even the very move forward may itself be false. The Law of God is clear and I could hear it, BE PERFECT, thought, word and deed not best effort, God is perfect not “so so” accepting. You talk about being dead “in the water”. To further this torment I concluded, “Even though you cannot do this with assurance whereby a fresh dip in the pool is “post faith” because you cannot be sure you have this said faith necessary prior to for it to be REAL (baptism that is), IF YOU DON’T get rebaptized, then SURELY that is a sign of your lack of saving faith and rebellion from God.” See one is damned if you do and damned if you don’t, there is no Gospel in baptistic baptism’s teaching, it is in the final analysis in all seriousness absolutely devoid of it. That may sound harsh but it is merely the facts of the matter and the real harshness lies in the teaching that is held forward to the torment of souls and stealing of God’s gift from you…THAT’S the real harshness. For psychologically and spiritually you must muster up the works or else. But you will get NO help what-so-ever from your pastor on this, only half answers and “crickets and frogs” when you pin down the problem. Some would advise a rebaptism, which solves absolutely nothing and hides the Cross more OR they will say you don’t need to but never tell you why. A kind of “theological punt”, because surely ‘our system’ is not incorrect! So, that added to the pile and was constant. I never did get rebaptized but came darn close, my poor wife had 3, we resolved that a year ago after having our children baptized. Luther was spot on here, stop baptizing infants and baptism LOOSES utterly its witness unto the Gospel…it’s a forgone conclusion!

Then you add to this pile the stuff my wife was raised in that I was then introduced to to “help me”. A strong variety of demon casting out because that’s what stops the victory over sin. It is called “Theophostic Counseling” down here. A dreamed up fantasy of a fertile mind by one of Kentucky’s natives in Central Kentucky that has gone world wide. It is similar to all of those asinine deliverance programs. Cast out named demons, hear the voice of God speak to you, or see Jesus in a mental vision/image, gain some power to “DO” then get on with “DOING”. Of course it NEVER worked for me. Being an educated scientist my brain couldn’t help but ask the questions: 1. I don’t hear anything and 2. If I did how would I know it wasn’t just my own imagination or worse another spirit…how do you know? So, in more despair I chalked it up to a continued proof of a lack of real saving faith. It didn’t help that the spiritual elite would condescendingly in “pity” for me say, “He’s just not getting it”. That’s suppose to be “nice pity” for a poor soul like myself, but is truly arrogance on the ‘spiritual elite’s’ part. There was this program’s (Theophostic) parallel doctrine of demons called program called the “Emmaous Road Walk” which has more in common with cult deprogramming and reprogramming than anything. It was just another “deliverance” fantasy of fanatics chalked full of superstition. I of coursed failed there as well and chalked that up as well.

I must make a point though: It’s easy to chalk up these “deliverance” programs because in hindsight they are quite silly but I NEVER forget the main under current to my terror that never really changed, the thing that drove me even to thoughts of suicide on more than one occasion was the issue of baptism and faith in the right order. THAT alone underlay everything, because I wanted to know that God had worked in my life. So one naturally gravitates to evidences, but the evidences are NEVER good enough, no matter how good they are. So, I lay the base faulty theology where it belongs a thoroughly unbiblical teaching on the Sacraments, miss this and all other theology MUST necessarily suffer. Miss this on the sacraments and one will be attempting to fit theology of glory squares into theology of Cross circles. Ultimately Christ was hidden from me in baptism MORE than anywhere else, the ‘deliverance’ programs and exercises were just so many more shovels full of dirt on top of the main grave.

The base question for me was never, “does Christ save sinners and is He effectual”, but, “how do I know it is for me”. I hear of Christ for others, the Good News toward others but how do I know it is Good News to me personally? You begin to see the CRUCIAL necessity of Gospel in the Sacraments here because it becomes VERY personal. The personal aspect of the Gospel is in reality the whole necessity of the Gospel, what is good news to me if it is for someone else and maybe not for me no matter how good it is? I worried my wife sick for years, this was before our children were born, because she could see and was the only one who knew the real depth of my despair. It scared her that one day I might end it all, but the fear of not knowing God is for you in salvation was greater than the fear of physical death. Physical death was almost tripe by comparison. I only feared physical death in so much that I didn’t know whether wrath or mercy awaited me. Physical death is NOTHING by comparison to wondering whether or not the wrath of God awaits you. A buffoon can muster up enough strength to give his life, but a buffoon cannot suffer the wrath of God afterward. More than one time I told my wife, “How beautiful it must have been for Mary M. to hear Jesus SAY to her Himself, ‘your sins are forgiven go in peace’, if I could only hear that, how SWEET that would sound and I could be at peace.” You begin to see what baptism is if it is Gospel TO YOU, ON YOU, FOR YOU, FOR FAITH and not because of it. You begin to see the devil’s real device here in obscuring the cross from baptism by raising up a teaching of “believers only”. You begin to really see what the Reformers saw. Because the personal Word TO YOU of Gospel must COME to you and this only does so in the water and Word objectively. The Lord’s Supper at this point was of no help either because it too in SB policy is merely a memory meal. So there’s nothing there for YOU in either baptism or the Lord’s Supper unless you can first bring something TO the table.

Add in all the “get busy” exhortations, NO Christ being given on a weekly basis IF EVER at all from the pulpit or Sunday School, the constant barrage of alter calls, exhortations to go to God in prayer…nobody, I mean nobody in the ministry in the SB circles I was in could turn you to Christ, especially at the crucial point of baptism, which is where the real spiritual war was. Here, at baptism, the devil ultimately withheld Christ from me. Even at our last SB church which was exegetically sound, but yet no Christ. Everything there was preached to be more like the persecuted church over seas. I told my wife, “I don’t know if I’m saved at all and they want me to do that! Be like those great Christians that suffer so much, I can’t do it, I don’t have the strength”. Which of course got chalked up as further proof that I was saved and fueled the same fire.

Then I happened upon the WHI fellows and ESPECIALLY Dr. Rosenbladt. What he said in so few and short simple statements where pure Gospel. I had all those thoughts, surely he is wrong, surely I’m letting him tickle my ears because I’m so desperate that such a FREE grace is what a sinner like me wants, but that FREE of a Grace is surely of the devil and a device to trick me onto an easy path to hell. A give it path, that’s just what the devil wants me to do. But I was strangely drawn to it because it was SO good and as I would look in the Scriptures at those very passages I began to say, “This is true there are only two religions one of do and one of done, that’s the demarcation”. I owe so much to the ministry God has produced through him and his partners, so much and to Rev. Wilkins show Issues and Etc… And Dr. Nagel, he literally brings tears to my eyes he so brings forth Christ. I feel like after hearing them that no matter what, I may die finally some day at the Lord’s discretion as to when and how IN PEACE.

When I first saw our present church baptize infants, before our own children, the ceremony itself was so different. The focus was not on “me” or the faith of the candidate but CHRIST. The Gospel literally dripped from it and I began too see for the first time Christ for me, in baptism, not because of faith I possessed but FOR ME. I began to see a different God, a God of mercy, grace and giving to the undeserving. Through the baptism of these infants who were not even my own children, I began to understand my own baptism, rather God baptizing me. Baptism was HIS name ON me objectively and it did not matter one wit concerning my faith’s being or not being, and ironically this strengthened faith because it GAVE CHRIST! When I saw those babies no more able to do a damn thing other than receive the gift of God put on them, I saw in clarion witness the Gospel in Baptism. Luther was spot on concerning the baptism of children. It is no small wonder at all that Jesus says, “Suffer the children to come unto me, and do not forbid them, FOR OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” Baptistic policy thrusts forth adults as the witness of the faith, but Jesus said infants are this and not adults. For an infant can only RECEIVE the Gospel, they can DO nothing and of such IS the Gospel and ONLY can it be had!

It may well be that the most profound quote from any theologian and evangelist out side of Scripture itself is Luther’s last statement before dying. Our tendency, as always, is to dismiss such things as “cute” dying words as we nod and sheepishly grin not getting the utter impact of a thing.

Luther’s last words were, “We are beggars all”. At first blow our sleepy eyes and works ridden mind just glaze over it as at best cute and at worst nothing. But it is profoundly Gospel, to his dying breath he confessed Christ. Within this seemingly simplistic statement lays the sum total of the Gospel that God used Luther to recover from start to finish in both the Word and the Sacraments. Many get part of “justification” verbally correct but not the full thrust of it, that is the Gospel that will endure intense suffering, especially on that fateful day of our death beds. Many get Justification correct in Word but then turn around a loose it in Sacrament and/or sanctification, typically one’s understanding of the sacraments parallels one’s understanding of sanctification. In Luther’s death bed confession lies the whole of what God singularly post Apostle led Luther to see and recover for His church: Namely that we are beggars all, pure and simple and period. No works, not before conversion, not after conversion, not 10 years after conversion, not 20 or 30 or 50 years after conversion but not AT ALL for we are pure unadulterated beggars all or we are not Christians at all. It is as simple as that. In modern language we might use the term “moochers”, “we are moochers all”. Perhaps “vagabond” works, but I think “moochers” captures it for no one despises more a moocher than a the merit system religious folks we are. To despise a moocher of utter grace is to despise the Cross, trip over it and in reality think it folly. A Christian, a real Christian, is nothing more than a moocher. He’s not a swell fellow, he’s not a moral tower of power and witness, he’s not a paragon to be imitated, an exemplar of virtue, he’s a moocher bereft of all righteousness excepting Christ’s. Yes, we are moocher’s all. Indeed, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven in ANY OTHER WAY, but as a bare butt naked moocher clothed only in baptism, the name of God, namely Jesus whose name IS “He will save His people from their sins”.

This dying quote of Luther’s is the sum total of all that he saw in the sacred script in Word and Sacrament. Faith is not an obedience or proof of obedience is not faith, rather faith is a beggars/moochers bag. A bag given you by the Lord to receive His gifts. It is like Halloween, you do nothing but open it and receive into it. If your faith is not a moochers bag, then you do not have faith at all. Baptism is not a merit badge for the possession of faith whereby only those with faith it earns the mark, it is a beggars/moochers cleansing in the blood of Christ and the giving of Jesus name to a homeless beggar/moocher. It is the adoption of a filthy needy naked beggar/moocher child into the Kings kingdom. The Lord’s Supper is not vain mental gymnastics whereby I attempt by the strength of my mind and imagination to recall the Cross of Christ, it is a beggars/moochers meal and drink at the bread line of the church so I will not starve to death but may eat and live eternally. Christ IS the water of life, baptism into Christ is to have this living water, Christ’s body is bread for life, Christ’s blood is eternal life for the forgiveness of sins.

“We are beggars all” is no trivial last words of death, but a last proclamation toward receiving the Gospel. It is the way Luther was given to see the Gospel in all things, Word and Sacraments. “We are beggars all” is just another way of seeing what Jesus meant when He said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for OF such is the Kingdom of God”. It’s just another way of seeing what baptism IS and ultimately the Gospel attending it and the Word itself.


Larry Hughes - KY

Adam Roe

Sandra,

In addition to the forensic justification Steve references, it can be stated that after we have entered union with Christ that He moves us toward perfection. We are participating in him through baptism and the Lord's Supper in a real, organic manner. This grafting into Christ's body moves us toward greater inner and outward purity. Even with this understanding, however, we recognize that Christ always leads. He saved us through His work on the cross, and He brings us to greater purity through His Word and Sacrament.

Blessings to you,
Adam

Julie

Excellent post, Chris.

"I am convinced that he knew how terrified I was by God’s law and rather than giving me more of it, he began applying the healing balm of the gospel. One thing I will always appreciate is that whenever he talked about sin he would always talk about his own and never mine."

I needed to hear that. I know it, but it never "takes" and I thank you for writing it so that I could hear it again.

AJ

I think this is a very important series of posts. I grew up in Pentacostal churches where we were taught to clean ourselves up and maybe God would accept us. I walked away from Christianity for years because I finally got fed up of failing. It was a hopeless pursuit, so I stopped pursuing.

Then I was challenged by a friend to actually study the Word for myself, and a whole new gospel came alive to me. I am saved by grace through faith. It is the power of He that is within me, and no power of my own. Even my righteous deeds are as dirty rags without Him.

I think this false gospel of the law actually tears the body of Christ apart. We are so worried about appearing sanctified that we get in the way of being sanctified. And our false appearances are a stumbling block for those who know they are as messed up as they don't know we are.

It is still important to work in unison with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and character. But a relationship with God is what that is all about. I know that I am becoming a better person every day, but it is out of gratitude, and not fear. It is having at least a small idea of the cost of my salvation, appreciating it, and wanting to be a good reflection of my Father while here on earth.

Oh, and PS... For those arguing against this gospel, please do a study on the difference between salvation (justification) and sanctification. You will find that justification is an act and sanctification is a process.

PPS... Also for those arguing against this gospel. Please stop insulting the sufficiency of the Blood of Christ. He died once for all. He was made sin, not sins (as in some sins).

Blessings...

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