Luther and Calvin Responsible for “Christian Terrorists”?

Keep in mind as you read… that there is a growing anti-Christian sentiment on the left. This attack is switching towards even the Reformational view of “saved by grace.” No… I am not kidding:

In the wake of the November 27th shootings at Planned Parenthood, media interest has centered around what the New York Times calls gunman Robert Dear’s “idiosyncratic” religious beliefs. In a 1993 affidavit, Dear’s ex-wife Barbara Micheau described him as someone who “claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions…He says that as long as he believes, he will be saved.”

Dear’s vision of grace—salvation through faith alone, independent of moral or immoral action—may well seem distasteful to many Times readers. But is it “idiosyncratic?” Hardly. In fact, the notion that salvation can—and must—be obtained purely by the grace of God and faith in God’s mercy, rather than by anything an individual does (or does not) do, is among the issues at the heart of the division between the Protestant and Catholic Christian traditions. Dear’s actions may seem reprehensible to Christians and non-Christians alike, but his understanding of salvation is very much in keeping with the American evangelical tradition.

[….]

Is there something quintessentially American about this view of sin and grace? Timothy Smith certainly thinks so. It contributed to a wider sense among Christian theologians that a focus on grace—rather than acts—was essential for Christianity’s survival within this new America. As he writes:

“Like the founding fathers of the nation, [early American theologians] were keenly aware of the threat that in a free society the masses of ordinary persons, including the great company of church people, would make their political and economic and social choices in response to greed or the love of power, pleasure, and public esteem. … Grace alone, they believed, could purify the inner springs of character and so make possible the creation of a righteous society; and that grace came in the sanctifying fullness of the Holy Spirit.”

While Dear’s actions may be horrific and aberrant, to dismiss his theology as purely “idiosyncratic” is to overlook a vast body of grace-centered religious language in the American tradition: a tradition that has come to shape the contours of American evangelicalism today.

Robert Lewis Dear, Jr., thought of himself as a Christian, according to his ex-wife.

“He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions,” Barbara Micheau said in a divorce court document, according to the Times.

[This is key]

  • “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases.”

(See CNSNews)

I have been in the Evangelical faith for a better part of my life — [dramatic pause] — and I know of no pastor that subscribes to a faith that one can do whatever one pleases and you remain in the faith. Dumb!

The press is portraying the Reformation and it’s understanding of “by grace alone/by faith alone” as a root cancer in people having a religious “stamp of approval” ~ by God no less ~ to commit acts of terrorism… as will be explained in more-depth further below when a major newspaper equates a Messianic Jew to ISIS loving Muslims. This new narrative plays into the hands of the PC crowd and the newer “white priveledge” aspect of the Founding Fathers and WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant).

TS Elliot WASP

Here, the Red Letters Dialogues delves into the narrative that is now attacking “fundamentalists” in a decent half-hour podcast talking about how the Evangelical Christian is under attack… by the media AND the Pope!

Likewise, at the end of Macho Sauces’s video [below]… Zo makes this point as well, that “somehow us right-wingers with our guns and our Bibles are the real threat”

  • (Video Description) Liberals want you to forget that the real threat is Islamic terrorists… If you remember that, then they’ll have a tougher time passing gun control!

Commenting deeper on this narrative Alfonzo hinted at (the left “blaming” Christians for violence), here are two article I found informative. First, if you want to see how far down the rabbit trail the left goes, read no further than NewsBusters expose:

….Ever since the deadly shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., last Wednesday, several members of the media have tried to spread the blame from the “radicalized” Muslim couple who shot and killed more than a dozen people to other individuals who are “just as bigoted” as the murderers.

One of those people in the media is columnist Linda Stasi of the New York Daily News, who wrote in a Dec. 6 article asserting that the interaction between “two hate-filled, bigoted municipal employees” led to the deaths of “13 innocent people” who were killed in an act of “unspeakable carnage.”

The post’s title read: “San Bernardino Killers Were ISIS-Loving Monsters — But One of Their Victims Was Just as Bigoted.”

The column drew a fiery reaction from Soopermexican of the Right Wing Scoop website, who called Stasi a “foul, disgusting liberal” and branded her column “quite alarming.”

Nevertheless, Stasi stated:

One man spent his free time writing frightening, NRA-loving, hate-filled screeds on Facebook about the other’s religion.

The other man quietly stewed and brewed his bigotry, collecting the kind of arsenal that the Facebook poster would have envied.

“What they didn’t realize,” she stated, “is that except for their different religions, they were in many ways similar men who even had the same job.”

One man, “the Muslim, was a loser who had to travel all the way to Pakistan to get himself an email bride,” Stasi wrote while refusing to add to their fame by “using the killer and his murderous wife’s names.”

[….]

The other man, the victim — Nicholas Thalasinos — was “a radical Born Again Christian/Messianic Jew who also connected with his future wife online and had traveled across the country to meet her,” Stasi noted.

“The killer, however, became half of an ‘Islamic Bonnie and Clyde’” who “deserve every disgusting adjective thrown at them,” she charged. “And more.”

“But the victim is also inaccurately being eulogized as a kind and loving religious man,” Stasi stated.

She continued:

Make no mistake: As disgusting and deservedly dead as the hate-filled fanatical Muslim killers were, Thalasinos was also a hate-filled bigot. Death can’t change that.

But in the U.S., we don’t die for speaking our minds. Or we’re not supposed to anyway.

Referring to Stasi, Soopermexican claimed that “this is just unbelievably foul of her. And it really makes you wonder what she thinks should be done to conservatives who think like he did, if she’s equating him to an evil, murderous ISIS-sympathizing terrorist that the police rightfully shot down in the street like a dog.”

“Now in no way am I saying her free speech should be shut down,” the Right Scoop poster continued. “I want people to see how stupid and wretched liberals are. BUT her point of view should be relegated to the fever swamps of the fringe Internet like Twitter or Tumblr, not legitimized in the pages of a professional publication.”

…read the rest…

Mind you… there are some crazy views on this shooting (and other shootings), but as I see it, the above referenced piece by Linda Stasi of the Daily News is *JUST AS CRAZY* (*Booming Bass-Filled Echo Affect*).

Here is the narrative — in your face! Take note of the pro-life families included in a video about “terrorism”

LIKEWISE, the Left and the Media have gotten their panties in the bunch over what they deem as “Christian Terrorism” in the Robert Lewis Dear. In an EXCELLENT Charisma magazine article, Matt Barber — after going through the percentage of Islamist’s in the Muslim faith and comparing that to the world population — he continues on into the “moral equivalency” of the piece:

…it’s no surprise that there have been nearly 27,500 terrorist attacks worldwide committed by faithful Muslims since 9/11.

There have been zero committed by faithful Christians.

Here’s why.

Muslims, true Muslims, follow the teachings of their dead “prophet” Muhammad, a warring tyrant who, as even the Islamic Quran concedes, was a murderous misogynist and pedophile. Christians, true Christians, follow the very-much-alive Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, whose teachings are found in the God-breathed Holy Bible.

Muhammad taught, and the Quran stresses, that a central tenet of Islam is to convert, enslave or kill the infidel. An infidel is anyone who is not Muslim or, depending on who’s doing the killing, belongs to a different sect of Islam.

On the other hand, Jesus taught His followers, who are called Christians, to “do to others what you would have them do to you” (see Luke 6:31); that, “You shall not murder” (see Matthew 19:18); and that we are to “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us]” (see Matthew 5:44). It goes without saying that those who do not follow these teachings are not following Christ.

Indeed, while many may claim to be “Christian,” the word only applies to those who are justified in Christ, spiritually reborn and regenerated through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. The true Christian walks in Christ’s steps through faith and obedience.

Terrorism is in direct disobedience to Christ.

Whereas “Muslim extremists,” that is, faithful Muslims, kill people extremely, “Christian extremists,” that is, faithful Christians, love people, including their enemies, extremely.

Islam is Christianity’s photo-negative. While Christianity brings eternal life to those choosing to surrender to Jesus, who alone is “the Way, the Truth and the Life,” Islam brings eternal death to those who surrender to Allah, who is “the best of deceivers” (“[A]nd Allah was deceptive, for Allah is the best of deceivers.” [see Surah 3:54]).

Which brings us to last week’s mass shooting near an abortion slaughterhouse in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Even as the secular left was gleefully screaming, “Christian terrorism!” Garrett Swasey, a pro-life, Christian pastor and police officer, was laying down his life for those inside the very Planned Parenthood he abhorred.

It’s what Christians do.

Still, again, and so our liberal, anti-Christian friends fully understand, Officer Garrett Swasey was a pro-life Christian. Robert Dear, the evil, reclusive, deranged pothead who killed him, is not. Dear murdered three innocent people. He is, by definition, not “pro-life.” Neither is he Christian. He is, much like Planned Parenthood, “pro-death.”

To be sure, pro-life Christians like Officer Swasey agree: Murdering babies is wrong. And murdering the murderers who murder babies is also wrong. Shooting innocent people is evil. Just like dismembering babies and selling their body parts is evil.

No, Robert Dear is no “Christian terrorist.” He may be a terrorist, but he’s not a Christian terrorist. He can’t be. He doesn’t follow Christ. If anything, Robert Dear’s actions are more like those of Planned Parenthood, orthodox Islam and Syed Farook.

Yes, there have been terrorists who call themselves Christian.

But there has never been a Christian terrorist.

The Godfather of Politics notes how the media would portray the well known atheist, Dan Barker, if he were to commit an “act of terrorism:

…Let’s suppose that Mr. Barker decides to commit a terrorist act. How might the headline read?:

“Christian Preacher and Musician Burns Down Gideon Bible Factory.”

Given Mr. Barker’s logic, this would be an appropriate description. But, of course, it wouldn’t be true.

It’s not what a person is on paper that counts; it’s what they actually practice and identify with in their terrorist acts that matter.

Consider Eric Rudolf, the “Olympic Park Bomber,” … Rudolf wrote the following in an undated letter that was published in the July 6, 2005 issue of USA Today:

Many good people continue to send me money and books. Most of them have, of course, an agenda; mostly born-again Christians looking to save my soul. I suppose the assumption is made that because I’m in here I must be a ‘sinner’ in need of salvation, and they would be glad to sell me a ticket to heaven, hawking this salvation like peanuts at a ballgame. I do appreciate their charity, but I could really do without the condescension. They have been so nice I would hate to break it to them that I really prefer Nietzsche to the Bible.”

[emphasis added]

We are ALL sinners, and need God’s Divine Grace → to rule our faith. If that makes me a terrorist… then so be it.

Reformation Day Historical Series by Dr. R.C. Sproul (498 years ago)

See more at Ligonier Ministries

See also: The Luther Decade

LUTHER AND THE LIGHTNING BOLT

MONASTERY AND ROME CRISIS

TOWER EXPERIENCE

BUILDING ST PETER’S

INDULGENCE CONTROVERSY

PROGRESS TO WORMS

ROMAN CATHOLIC VIEW OF JUSTIFICATION ~ Part 1

ROMAN CATHOLIC VIEW OF JUSTIFICATION ~ Part 2

PROSTESTANT VIEW OF JUSTIFICATION

ROME’S OBJECTIONS ANSWERED

Keeping Our Christian Identity Through “Seders” (Edited)

Walk With Me

This is a topic I taught on at church, and it is a simple way to preach the Gospel to yourself. There are 5 categories:

  1. We are Sinners;
  2. We are Judged for this sin;
  3. We are Forgiven;
  4. This forgiveness creates a Relational aspect with our God;
  5. Which brings Joy in every situation we face.

In our busy schedules choose a single verse from each section and on Monday study that single verse about our sinful nature. Use an online resource such as Blue Letter Bible to read a commentary on it or Bible Gateway to read a version you haven’t read of the verse. (Or one of your home resources… whatever the case may be.) On Tuesday take a verse on forgiveness (mine, or one that has hit a cord with you over the years). Etc.

By Friday, T.G.I.F. takes on a new meaning. The following week, do the same, but with a different verse. Habits.

WE ARE CALLED TO CHECK IN

A verse that calls us to “check in” so-to-speak, is 2 Corinthians 13:5 ~ I will read from a paraphrase of this verse, however, feel free to click on the link below to see the paraphrase next to my favorite versions:

2Corinthians 13:5’ish

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.

We don’t just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.

Even one of the greatest Repormers mentioned this “preaching the Gospel to ourselves” aspect of our faith: “We need to hear the Gospel every day, because we forget it every day” ~ Martin Luther.

ALL HAVE SINNED (#1)

  • Proverbs 21:2 ~ “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.”
  • Proverbs 16:2 ~ “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD evaluates the motives.”
  • 1 Samuel 16:7 ~ “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

2 things to glean from these:

1. Divine involvement in man’s heart is not limited to kings or priests;

2. A person may think nothing is wrong with his conduct, ahem, but God may.

Here we read a quick insight gleaned from Matthew Henry (Matthew 23:27-28)

The proud heart is very ingenious in putting a fair face upon a foul matter, and in making that appear right to itself which is far from being so, to stop the mouth of conscience. ~ Matthew Henry

How many righteous persons are there?

  • Romans 3:10 ~ “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

Bill Cosby teaches us about this malady we have from the earliest age (and he is a debased sinner as well, in need of a savior):

As an aside. Something that Bill Cosby said above struck a cord with me. He mentioned that the only time a child tells the truth is when they are in pain. So do we ~ often times ~ as adults. Here is the C.S. Lewis quote that came to me when I watched this:

We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities, and anyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (NY, New York: Touchstone, 1996), 82-83.

Let us take a short historical theology break and read a few points from the 1689 London Baptist Confession:

4 The actual sins that men commit are the fruit of the corrupt nature transmitted to them by our first parents. By reason of this corruption, all men become wholly inclined to all evil; sin disables them. They are utterly indisposed to, and, indeed, rendered opposite to, all that is good. (Matt. 15:19; Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21; Jas. 1:14.)

5 During this earthly life corrupt nature remains in those who are born of God, that is to say, regenerated. Through Christ it is pardoned and mortified, yet both the corruption itself, and all that issues from it, are truly and properly sin. (Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 7:18,23-25; Gal. 5:17; 1 John 1:8.)

Hank Hanegraaff explains WHAT sin is and is not:

R.C. Sproul, a theologian of report, helps us define what TOTAL and UTTER “depravity” means:

…There is a distinction which I have found to be helpful: total depravity does not mean utter depravity. Utter depravity would mean that every human being is as wicked as it is possible to be, and we know that this is not the case. As much as we sin, we can always contemplate sinning more often, or more grievously than we presently do.

While some will not support my posting of this next video by Mark Driscoll… I understand. But he has done a lot of good explaining of core doctrine that assists us in understanding concepts, like, TOTAL DEPRAVITY:

  • Jeremiah 17:9 ~ “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?”

Sproul has a wonderful ministry, and he [Sproul] has asked ~ rhetorically ~ how: anyone could be involved in believing in the value of human worth and at the same time believing in TOTAL depravity? He responds:

The very fact that Calvinists take sin so seriously is because they take the value of human beings so seriously. It is because man was made in the image of God, called to mirror and reflect God’s holiness, that we have the distinction of being the image-bearers of God.

But what does ‘total depravity’ mean? Total depravity means simply this: that sin affects every aspect of our human existence: our minds, our wills and our bodies are affected by sin. Every dimension of our personality suffers at some point from the weight of sin that has infected the human race.

SENTENCED! (#2)

  • Leviticus 5:17 ~ “If someone sins and without knowing it violates any of the Lord’s commands concerning anything prohibited, he bears the consequences of his guilt.”

...GUILT

Modern persons think “guilt” is a matter of feelings;

The Bible treats guilt as a fact.

In the O.T. guilt has three aspects.

(1) There is an act which brings guilt;
(2) There is the condition of guilt which follows the act;
(3) There is punishment appropriate to the act.

In the N.T., guilt is a judicial concept. The Greek word/idea is drawn from the courts, and emphasize liability to punishment. The guilty person has been:

(1) accused;
(2) tried;
(3) and convicted.

Both Testaments view acts which bring guilt as the end result of offenses against God. (See: Heb. 9:11–28 for the legal answer to this predicament)

  • Romans 6:23(a) ~ “For the wages of sin is death….”

This is the summary of the entire chapter. Paul painted the choice in black and white. The choice is ours—sin and death or free grace through Christ and eternal life. It is very similar to the “two ways” of OT wisdom literature (Ps. 1; Prov. 4; 10–19; Matt. 7:13–14).

And, we must always keep in mind that we are judged righteously by our Triune God:

Never put someone to death unless 2 or 3 witnesses:

“But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 17:6); “For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Hebrews 10:28).

FORGIVEN (#3)

Galatians 2:16-17 (HCSB)

“…yet we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law, for no human being will be justified by the works of the law.” (International Standard Version [ISV])

~ According to the text in the ISV, Christ’s faith — not ours — does the justifying. It is His focus of attention, not ours, that does the work. (The “onus” then is put in proper perspective.) As an example from one of my favorite verses, Philippians 1:6:

“I am sure of this, that He who (a) started a good work in you will (b) carry it on to completion until the (c) day of Christ Jesus.”

To be clear:

(a) HE started the Good work [salvation];
(b) He will carry it out;

(c) He will complete it.

It is ALL a work of Christ!

In-other-words, we will join the 24-elders in Revelation in throwing our crowns at Jesus feet, for all the good “WE” did was in actually Him working through us by even creating these… good works in our heart, and the will and drive to do them for His glory:

“There will be no jarring note in Heaven, no whisper of human merit, no claim of a reward for good intentions—but every crown shall be cast at Jesus’ feet and every voice shall join in the ascription, ‘Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Your name be all the glory of the salvation which You have worked out for us from first to last.’” ~ C.H. Spurgeon

The Imperishable Crown (1 Cor 9:24-24) — The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thess 2:19) — The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) — The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4) — The Crown of Life (Revelation 2:10)

  • Romans 6:23(b) ~ “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

For those that do not know, I am a three-time convicted felon from many years ago. I like to say I am a retired felon. While in Jail I had to realign drastically the direction I had traveled. I didn’t realize it then, but I was preaching the Gospel to myself by studying Hosea. The Lord told the prophet — literally —

  • “Go, take to yourself a wife who will prove to be unfaithful.”

And if you think about it, we are all unfaithful to God in some way: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And we break our marriage contract with the Lord, it is the Lord who is faithful and bridges the gap we cannot:

“The LORD said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes'” (Hosea 3:1).

[David offered raisin cakes to the starving (1 Sam 30:11-12); at the celebration of the return of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6:18-19); Abigail made for David’s troops (1 Sam 25:18). What was once good in the Lord’s eyes man will surely corrupt.]

  • Jeremiah 15:19(a,b) ~ “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: ‘If you return, I will restore you…'”

This implies we will fail, and He knew it, and yet chose us.

George Gilder enumerates a law that goes well with the Refiners Fire hymn. In an Interview with Dennis Prager Mr. Gilder enumerated a law of Information Theory*, and thus economics:

“A fundamental principle of information theory is that you can’t guarantee outcomes… in order for an experiment to yield knowledge, it has to be able to fail. If you have guaranteed experiments, you have zero knowledge”

*(the mathematical theory concerned with the content, transmission, storage, and retrieval of information, usually in the form of messages or data, and especially by means of computers)

Zechariah 13:9;
Job 23:10;
Isaiah 48:10;
1 Peter 1:7.

Notes on 1 Peter 1:7

a) Peter  was not backslidden or apathetic;
b) It was Paul’s general encouragement to fan the flame/keep the fire burning brightly

How?

  • 2 Corinthians 4:16 ~ Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.

“…renewed day by day.” Almost like a Jewish Seder which Paul would have been familiar with. Like the Passover Seder, for instance, that helped keep the identity of the Jewish nation for almost 3-millinea, we need habits that keep our identity as owned by Christ, daily. Are we equipped for the task?

“…but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” We have “to take some responsibility in that renewal. The continual brightening of the inner flame that God has given to us is related to God’s own equipment for us. God does not equip us with weakness, but with power. He does not equip us with hatred, but with love. He does not equip us with self-destruction, but with self-discipline.”

  • Romans 8:15 ~ “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

John Calvin, the great Reformer, says this of the above Romans thinking:

He now confirms the certainty of that confidence, in which he has already bidden the faithful to rest secure; and he does this by mentioning the special effect produced by the Spirit; for he has not been given for the purpose of harassing us with trembling or of tormenting us with anxiety; but on the contrary, for this end—that having calmed every perturbation [(pûr’tər-bā’shən) mental disquiet, disturbance, or agitation], and restoring our minds to a tranquil state, he may stir us up to call on God with confidence and freedom. He does not then pursue only the argument which he had before stated, but dwells more on another clause, which he had connected with it, even the paternal mercy of God, by which he forgives his people the infirmities of the flesh and the sins which still remain in them. He teaches us that our confidence in this respect is made certain by the Spirit of adoption, who could not inspire us with confidence in prayer without scaling to us a gratuitous pardon: and that he might make this more evident, he mentions a twofold spirit; he calls one the spirit of bondage, which we receive from the law; and the other, the spirit of adoption, which proceeds from the gospel. The first, he says, was given formerly to produce fear; the other is given now to afford assurance. By such a comparison of contrary things the certainty of our salvation, which he intended to confirm, is, as you see, made more evident. The same comparison is used by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews [Hebrews 12:18], where he says, that we have not come to Mount Sinai, where all things were so terrible, that the people, being alarmed as it were by an immediate apprehension of death, implored that the word should be no more spoken to them, and Moses himself confessed that he was terrified; “but to [Z]ion, the mount of the Lord, and to his city, the heavenly Jerusalem, where Jesus is, the Mediator of the New Testament.”

MARTIN LUTHER tells us we have to preach this to ourselves constantly… because it is SUCH GREAT NEWS we seem to view it as unbelievable:

Grace in the Reformation

Luther’s Reformation message of salvation by grace alone could hardly have looked more different when compared with that old pre-Reformation teaching of his about salvation by grace. This is how he began to talk: “He is not righteous who does much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ.”4 Here grace is not about God’s building on our righteous deeds or helping us to perform them. God, Luther began to see, was the one “who justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5), not one who simply recognizes and rewards those who manage to make themselves godly. God is not one who must build on our foun­dations; he creates life out of nothing. It meant that, instead of looking to God for assistance and then ultimately relying on himself, Luther was turning to rely entirely on Christ, in whom all righteousness is achieved. “The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.”

Here Luther found a message so good it almost seemed incredible to him. It was good news for the repeated failure, news of a God who comes not to call the righteous but sinners (Matt. 9:13). Not many today find themselves wearing hair shirts and enduring all-night prayer vigils in the freezing cold to earn God’s favor. Yet deep in our psyche is the assumption that we will be more loved when (and only when) we make ourselves more attractive—both to God and to others. Into that, Luther speaks words that cut through the gloom like a glorious and utterly unexpected sunbeam:

The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it…. Rather than seeking its own good, the love of God flows forth and bestows good. Therefore sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive.

In Reformation thought, grace was no longer seen as being like a can of spiritual Red Bull. It was more like a marriage. In fact when Luther first sought to explain his Reformation dis­covery in detail to the world, it was the story of a wedding that framed what he said. Drawing on the romance of the lover and his beloved in Song of Solomon (especially 2:16, “My beloved is mine, and I am his”), he told the gospel as the story of the “rich and divine bridegroom Christ” who “marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness.” At the wedding a wonderful exchange takes place whereby the king takes all the shame and debt of his bride, and the harlot receives all the wealth and royal status of her bridegroom. For Jesus and the soul that is united to him by faith, it works like this:

Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s; for if Christ is a bridegroom, he must take upon himself the things which are his bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are his. If he gives her his body and very self, how shall he not give her all that is his? And if he takes the body of the bride, how shall he not take all that is hers?

In the story the prostitute finds that she has been made a queen. That does not mean she always behaves as befits royalty but, however she behaves, her status is royal. She is now the queen. So it is with the believer: she remains a sinner and con­tinues to stumble and wander, but she has the righteous status of her perfect and royal bridegroom. She is—and until death will remain—at the same time both utterly righteous (in her status before God) and a sinner (in her behavior).

That means that it is simply wrong-headed for the believer to look to her behavior as an accurate yardstick of her righ­teousness before God. Her behavior and her status are distinct.

The prostitute will grow more queenly as she lives with the king and feels the security of his love, but she will never become more the queen. Just so, the believer will grow more Christlike over time, but never more righteous. Thus, because of Christ, and not because of her performance, the sinner can know a despair-crushing confidence.

Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him. And she has that righ­teousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, “If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his.”

For the rest of his life Luther took this message as good news that needs continually to be reapplied to the heart of the believer. From his own experience he found that we are so in­stinctively self-dependent that while we happily subscribe to salvation by grace, our minds are like rocks, drawn down by the gravitational pull of sin away from belief in grace alone. So he counseled his friend as follows:

They try to do good of themselves in order that they might stand before God clothed in their own virtues and merits. But this is impossible. Among us you were one who held to this opinion, or rather, error. So was I, and I am still fighting against the error without having con­quered it as yet.

Therefore, my dear brother, learn Christ and him cruci­fied. Learn to pray to him and, despairing of yourself, say: “Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am thy sin. Thou hast taken upon thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is thine. Thou hast taken upon thyself what thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.”

  • Michael Reeves and Tim Chester, Why The Reformation Still Matters (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2016), 84-88.

RELATIONAL (#4)

Okay, what does “forgiven” mean? And, how does this change our position with God?

We have all heard the famous saying, “Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely do not deserve.” This comes in part from Hebrews 4:16:

“Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

“At the proper time” is a colloquial saying of the day that means “just in the nick of time.” The Believer’s Bible Commentary says this of the Hebrews verse:

Now the gracious invitation is extended: draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. Our confidence is based on the knowledge that He died to save us and that He lives to keep us. We are assured of a hearty welcome because He has told us to come.

….We can go into His presence at any time of the day or night and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. His mercy covers the things we should not have done, and His grace empowers us to do what we should do but do not have the power to do.

In Genesis 8 when Noah sacrificed clean animals to God, “the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma.” Christ is the last Adam, thee final sacrifice that ends all sacrificial offerings, and we see in 2 Corinthians 2:15 the “…we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” You see, we are covered in Christ’ offering and are thus pleasing to God.

…Segue

How should we respond to this idea in Psalm 30:5?

For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor, a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night,
but there is joy in the morning.

JOYFULNESS (#5)

Indeed, God is my salvation;

I will trust Him and not be afraid,

for Jehovah, the Lord,

is my strength and my song.

He has become my salvation.”

You will joyfully draw water

from the springs of salvation,

and on that day you will say:

Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name!

Celebrate His works among the peoples.

Declare that His name is exalted.

Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things.

(Isaiah 12:1-6)

The God of Glory

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

(Ephesians 1:3–6)

Even in failure and time of testing and trials we have a line to divine joy. Consider James 1:2-4:

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (HCSB) Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (The Message)

Of verse two my first owned (and still a favorite of mine) commentary says this:

The Christian life is filled with problems. They come uninvited and unexpected. Sometimes they come singly and sometimes in droves. They are inevitable. James does not say “if you fall into various trials” but when. We can never get away from them. The question is, “What are we going to do about them?”

There are several possible attitudes we can take toward these testings and trials of life. We can rebel against them (Heb. 12:5) by adopting a spirit of defiance, boasting that we will battle through to victory by our own power. On the other hand, we can lose heart or give up under pressure (Heb. 12:5). This is nothing but fatalism. It leads to questioning even the Lord’s care for us. Again, we can grumble and complain about our troubles. This is what Paul warns us against in 1 Corinthians 10:10. Another option—we can indulge in self-pity, thinking of no one but ourselves, and trying to get sympathy from others. Or better, we can be exercised by the difficulties and perplexities of life (Heb. 12:11). We can say, in effect, “God has allowed this trial to come to me. He has some good purpose in it for me. I don’t know what that purpose is, but I’ll try to find out. I want His purposes to be worked out in my life.” This is what James advocates: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Don’t rebel! Don’t faint! Rejoice! These problems are not enemies, bent on destroying you. They are friends which have come to aid you to develop Christian character.

God is trying to produce Christlikeness in each of His children. This process necessarily involves suffering, frustration, and perplexity. The fruit of the Spirit cannot be produced when all is sunshine; there must be rain and dark clouds. Trials never seem pleasant; they seem very difficult and disagreeable. But afterwards they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by them (Heb. 12:11). How often we hear a Christian say, after passing through some great crisis, “It wasn’t easy to take, but I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything.”

William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 2218.

In another commentaries summing up of verse three, we see perseverance is key to our joy as well, but this takes time and is something not magically infused at the outset:

…But James’s readers knew the good reason God allows such trials (v. 3). God intends for them to result in a mature and complete faith; perseverance is faith’s first product. But perseverance is not a minimal virtue. Rather, it is elemental to that fortitude of the soldier who braves all in his life-and-death struggle on the field of combat. Praised by Paul (1 Thess 1:3) and by the author of Revelation (cf. 14:12), perseverance characterizes the godly both before and after Christ. The gradual and painful acquisition of this virtue is also unmistakable. Perseverance, though essential to faith, is not infused immediately in a moment of conversion. Only through great ardor and the stumbling pursuit of the goal laid before it and only through sustained service in spite of opposition does perseverance come.

Kurt A. Richardson, James, vol. 36, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 61–62.

Paul surely knew by heart this verse:

My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to You
because You have redeemed me.

(Psalm 71:23)

We should then have a definition of o-u-r-s-e-l-v-e-s… as Christians, that bring to bear the gift we should now be celebrating, here, Martin Luther in his Commentary on Galatians, offers a good definition of a Christian. In this definition we see the totality of the above study of Romans Road ~ exemplified:

“We therefore make this definition of a Christian: a Christian is not he who hath no sin, but he to whom God imputeth not his sin, through faith in Christ. That is why we so often repeat and beat into your minds, the forgiveness of sins and imputation of righteousness for Christ’s sake. Therefore when the law accuseth him and sin terrifieth him, he looketh up to Christ, and when he hath apprehended Him by faith, he hath present with him the conqueror of the law, sin, death, and the devil: and Christ reigneth and ruleth over them, so that they cannot hurt the Christian. So that he hath indeed a great and inestimable treasure, or as St. Paul saith: ‘the unspeakable gift’ (2 Cor. ix. 15), which cannot be magnified enough, for it maketh us the children and heirs of God. This gift may be said to be greater than heaven and earth, because Christ, who is this gift, is greater.”

A “summation” of the above: