3 Ways The Law Applies To Christians Today

Last week, we talked about how the doctrines of Law and Gospel have been horribly misused in the Church today. In order to help prevent further misunderstanding, and to prepare for our upcoming discussion on the Ten Commandments I would like to briefly cover the three uses for the Law today.

The Three Uses of the Law

We know now what the Law is, the teaching of what is pleasing to God and the rebuking of sin. This is a very necessary doctrine and most certainly has its place in the Christian Church. We can also know from the preaching of Jesus Christ, particularly from His Sermon on the Mount, that none of us can perfectly keep this Law. So how are we to use it correctly?

The three ways to use the Law are:

    1. To maintain external discipline in society

The Law serves to show us how to establish a just society. To outlaw and to punish justly certain crimes such as murder, theft, and rape(Deut. 16:20). It also serves to teach how to guard certain rights such as private property, right to justice, fair treatment for poor and rich alike (Isaiah 1:17). We are under no obligation to implement these laws exactly as they are found in Scripture. Only to learn from them the true definition of a just society.

    2. To reveal to us our sin

The second use is as a mirror. The Law reveals to us our sin. Showing us just how sick we truly are and how deep the infection goes (Romans 7:7). Without the Law, we could easily convince ourselves that we are relatively good people deserving of some good in this world and a comfortable place in the next. However, the Law will show us that we are eviler than we ever dreamed in our darkest nightmares. The mobs that run the streets would look like an old lady’s tea party compared to the wretchedness in our hearts (Romans 7:18-20).

The Law reveals this to us that we may be properly prepared for the Gospel. When a person has come to the revelation above, they are ready for the Gospel.

    3. To guide Christians (and only Christians) to the knowledge of what pleases God

The third use of the Law applies only to Christians. It reveals to them what things please God. This has no place in the discussion until a person has received their faith and is among the elect of God (Heb. 116). If you are not saved, the Law is nothing to you but threats. For the unregenerate will follow the Law only out of fear. Yet, even their obedience is a sin to God for it comes not through faith. To reject the sacrifice of the Son of God is so horrible, no good deed could erase it. However, the regenerate, the Christian, would follow the Law from pure love, out of a sole desire to please the God they love (Galatians 1:10). It has nothing at all to do with earning or deserving their salvation. That has already been given them freely. It has everything to do with love for their Savior.

Conclusion

Today we have finished up our mini-series on the doctrines of Law and Gospel by covering in brief the three correct ways to use the Law. Next time we will begin our series on the Ten Commandments.

As always I would love to read your comments below or through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

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3 Methods To Misapply Law And Gospel

Last week, we introduced the two great doctrines of the Bible, Law, and Gospel. We also very briefly talked about the correct way to make use of these two doctrines. Unfortunately, most Christians today unintentionally confuse these doctrines, causing great harm. Today we will cover three general ways these doctrines are abused.

The Heresy of Confusion

The great heresy that I believe plagues today’s churches is the confusion of these two great doctrines in the following three ways:

  1. The preaching of the Law only apart from the Gospel
  2. The preaching of the Gospel only apart from the Law
  3. The improper mixing of Law and Gospel

Preaching Law Alone

Do we then nullify the law through faith? May it never be! No, we establish the law.

Romans 3:31 WEB

When pastors only preach the Law, that is, only preach what pleases God and rebuke all sin they leave their congregation either in the depths of despair knowing they can never please God. This was the very state of Judas after betraying our Lord. Or, they leave them in the very hand of Satan, having puffed up their pride making them think they could actually please God by keeping perfectly the Law.

Preaching Gospel Alone

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? May it never be! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-2 WEB

When pastors only preach the Gospel, that is, teaching that Christ has paid for all sins, he leads his congregation into a life of debauchery and sin. For they become comfortable in their failings and believe that because Christ has paid their debt they may continue in their immoral ways for, surely salvation is free.

Confusing Law and Gospel

In those, there are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unsettled twist, as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

2 Peter 3:16b WEB

These two ways of preaching are usually easy to detect and, for the devout Christian, easy to abandon. However, the true danger lies in the improper mixing of the two. For when pastors mix incorrectly these two doctrines you will hear such things as if you are homosexual you will go to hell, if you commit suicide you are lost, if you do not produce good fruit you are not saved, and if you do not repent you are damned. It tells you that if you doubt your salvation look to your own worry and that alone tells you that you are elect.

I am deeply saddened when I think of how many souls have been robbed of the hope of Christ by these lies. How many people have been fed a false Christianity and therefore abandoned the faith because of this heresy. So I will lay out here what the proper use of the Law and the Gospel are. So that we may quickly recognize these lies and also that we may share the truth with those in desperate need of it.

Conclusion

Today we looked at the three general ways that the Law and the Gospel are misused in the Church today. Next week we will conclude our mini-series on Law an Gospel by discussing the three proper uses of the Law in preparation for talking about the final fundamental doctrine of Christianity, the Ten Commandments.

For now, I would love to hear from you. Are there ways you can see where this confusion of Law and Gospel has been used to confuse or hurt you in your Church? Please feel free to share your story and/or opinions in the comments below or to me directly through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

2 Primary Doctrines of the Bible

Since beginning this blog I have attempted to cover, in brief detail, the fundamental building blocks of the Christian faith. However, I skipped over the traditional first section, the Ten Commandments. The reason for doing so is that the Ten Commandments are associated with, what I believe, is the biggest heresy plaguing the Christian Church today. I wanted to put as much focus as I could on the other doctrines that we may be well prepared to take on this heresy.

The true light of the Ten Commandments has been dimmed greatly in recent years, as many take on the role of a pastor without a thorough understanding of the two great doctrines of the Bible. Though the Bible contains many doctrinal, historical, and scientific facts, its primary purpose is to teach us these two great doctrines. These two great doctrines are the Law and the Gospel (2 Corinthians 7:10).

The Law

According to the Formula of Concord, the Law is defined as:

Teaching what is right and pleasing to God, and rebuking everything that is sin and contrary to God’s will. Everything that rebukes sin is, and belongs to, the Law.

(Ep V:3)

The Gospel

The Gospel is also defined in the Formula of Concord as:

The kind of teaching which shows what a person who has not kept the Law (and therefore is condemned by it) is to believe. It teaches that Christ has paid for and made satisfaction for all sins. Christ has gained for an individual – without any of his own merit – forgiveness of sins, righteousness that avails before God, and eternal life.

(Ep V:5)

Preaching of Repentance

As can be seen in many places in the Bible the Gospel often includes the preaching of repentance (see Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21). This is because the term ‘Gospel’ is often used in a general sense. The preaching of repentance properly belongs to the Law. Therefore, preaching the Gospel is often preceded by the preaching of repentance. It serves as a bridge between the Law and the Gospel.

To the Gospel belongs solely the preaching of consolation and comfort. It points away from our own works to those of Jesus Christ and saving faith which God bestows.

The Right use of Law and Gospel

Therefore true Biblical preaching would follow the general pattern below:

  1. Present the Law revealing the great sin that lies within us (which only the Law can reveal):

Let all the house of Israel therefore know certainly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.

Acts 2:36 WEB (emphasis added)

2. Then give a call to repentance. For God, through His Word will work a sorrow unto repentance.

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Acts 2:37 WEB

3. Finally, bring comfort to their souls, in its proper time, through the Gospel. Pointing only to the work of Christ.

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”

Acts 2:38-39 WEB (empasis added)

Conclusion

Today we have introduced the two great doctrines of Law and Gospel along with a very general introduction to the proper use of these doctrines. In the next blog post, we will look into the abuses of these great doctrines and how they have harmed many Christians today.

Please feel free to comment below or send me a private email through my Contact Page. It is always a pleasure hearing from my readers.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

3 Easy Ways To Make The Most Of Communion – Part 2

Sacrament of the Altar

Today we continue our series on the Sacrament of the Altar. Last week, we discussed the first way of getting the most out of communion by understanding just what communion is. This week we will talk about the second way, that is what benefits we derive from receiving communion. But first, let’s review the passage of scripture we are studying:

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread. He thanked God for it and broke it. He gave it to the disciples and said, `Take this bread and eat it. It is my body.’ He also took a cup. He thanked God for it. Then he gave it to the disciples and said, `All of you drink from this. This is my blood. My blood is the blood of the new agreement. It is given so that many people will be forgiven for the wrong things they did.

Matthew 26:26-28 WEB

What are its benefits?

The above description of Communion is likely shocking or offensive to most Christians. But that is likely because they have not thought through the reason for Communion.

Many Christians in America today believe Communion to be nothing more than a sign, a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross nearly 2,000 years ago. This is not entirely wrong. For that is one of the reasons we ought to go to receive the Sacrament often (every week if possible).

The benefits of the sacrament are:

  1. So that God may teach us to believe that Christ died for my particular sins due solely to His great love for us
  2. So that we may recall the death and the shedding of Jesus’ blood in order to understand that no creature but the God-man Jesus Christ could make satisfaction for our sins
  3. So that we may learn to look with terror on our sins which caused Jesus to suffer as He did
  4. So that our faith may be strengthened against the onslaught of the evil one

The devil, our enemy seeks to ruin the faith of everyone that he can. Even if he cannot remove our faith, he will not stop until he has worn us out so completely that we renounce or become indifferent to our faith just to escape his attention. God knowing this, leaves us this great gift to strengthen us in the fight for faith. That all of the benefits of faith may become our own in us as a sure pledge from Christ refreshing us for the coming battles.

The saving faith the devil seeks to rob us of, God seeks to build and strengthen in Communion that we may not be lost, for He loves us so much that He not only sent Christ to die for us but commanded that His body and blood be given to us to strengthen us while we are in this world.

Keep awake! Watch! Your enemy the devil is walking around like a growling lion. He is looking for someone to catch.

1 Peter 5:8 WEB

Conclusion

Today we looked at the benefits that Christ gives us every time we partake of Communion in faith. We know from scripture the devil seeks every day to rob believers of their saving faith. Thankfully our loving Lord has not left us without a means to strengthen ourselves against his assaults. How can knowing this encourage Christians to receive Communion more often in their worship together?

I would love to hear from all of my readers either in the comments below or through email on my Contact Page. Also feel free to share a link to this post on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else where content is shared.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

3 Easy Ways To Make The Most Of Communion – Part 1

Sacrament of the Altar

The Sacrament of the Altar, otherwise known as Communion or the Eucharist, is one of the most observed and misunderstood of all of the sacraments. In Communion Jesus Christ gives us Himself to strengthen and preserve us in our journey that we may never have to “walk in darkness” for we have “seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). Over the next few posts we will look at the three easy ways we can make the most out of Communion:

  1. We will examine what is Communion
  2. What benefits we have from receiving it
  3. Who is to receive it

What is Communion?

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Matthew 26:26-28 WEB

The Sacrament of the Altar is nothing less than the body and blood of Jesus Christ given to us in, with, and under the species of bread and wine.

Let us be very clear. We are not talking about the Roman Catholic belief of Transubstantiation saying that the bread and wine are somehow transformed in its substance. The bread and wine remain exactly what they are, bread and wine. What we mean is that when receiving the elements we also receive the true and very real body and blood of Jesus, not spiritually, but supernaturally. Beyond our ability to perceive or fully understand it.

The reason for this has nothing to do with a special power or righteousness of the priest or pastor, nor anything to do with the faith we bring to the sacrament. It has everything to do with God’s ordinance and command. It is true because, as with baptism and the forgiveness of sins God has promised that it is so. Jesus said in the scriptures that the bread and wine are His body and blood so we may know it to be true:

  • Whether we have an unworthy minister, for what minister could ever be worthy
  • Whether our faith is weak, for this is the very purpose of Communion to strengthen such faith
  • Whether we understand it for even the theologians cannot fully grasp this mystery

Jesus is faithful and His Word will never fail, so the Sacrament is exactly what He promises.

We ask God to bless the cup at the Lord’s supper. When we drink from this cup it means that the blood of Christ is for us all. We break the bread. When we eat this bread, it means that the body of Christ is for us all.

1 Corinthians 10:16 WEB

His gift has been given to us, let us be eager to receive Him.

Conclusion

Today we talked about the first of the three ways we may get the most out of our communion experience. By knowing exactly what it is that we are receiving when we eat the bread and drink from the cup we may appreciate more fully just what Jesus gave up to save us. How can this biblical perspective help Christians today embrace the true consequences of their sin and help them stay away from it?

I would love to hear from all of my readers either in the comments below or through email on my Contact Page. Also feel free to share a link to this post on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else where content is shared.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

Being Forgiven

Who screwed up so royally that we have all the problems we do today? Who gets the blame for messing up what was made so perfect in the beginning?

The Blame Game

As He [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him.

John 9:1-3

Christians know there is some truth behind the disciples’ question. Sin, falling short of God’s will, ultimately lead us to suffer. It is also the original sin of Adam that helped usher in the suffering we see so prevalent today. But where the disciples go wrong is in trying to apply this principle in a particular situation. They want everything to be black and white. This man is suffering because he either sinned in the womb or because his parents were scum.

Christ, as any good teacher, answers in a way to show them that they are asking the wrong question. It is not about how awful a person has been as to whether they will suffer.

For he [God] makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

Matthew 5:45b

It is not about blame, it is about God.

Forgive Yourself

It has become very popular to say this to people who are depressed. I must firmly disagree. It is pretty easy for us to forgive ourselves. We are far more tolerant of our own mistakes then we are of others. What we really need is God’s forgiveness.

Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! If you forgive anyone’s sins, they have been forgiven them. If you retain anyone’s sins, they have been retained.”

John 20:21-23 WEB

Jesus gave to His Church the power to forgive the sins of any who repent. Yet this gift is scoffed at by many Christians today. They say they need only pray and forgiveness will come. But just as God gave us the Scriptures through the words of men, so too he gives us still His words of forgiveness through the mouth of men, the pastors called to proclaim this good news to His people.

So don’t struggle to forgive yourself. Instead, strive to find the forgiveness of a God who knows exactly how messed up you are and will still forgive you anyway. That love is far greater than anything you can give yourself.

Next Time

Today we talked a little about the precious gift that God gives us. We do not need to play the blame game. Instead, we look to Christ to be forgiven and then show this same forgiveness to those who need it. By replacing blame with forgiveness we can make society just a little bit better.

Next week we will dive into one of the final Sacraments on our list, the Sacrament of the Altar. If you have any questions about forgiveness or any about communion you want to be answered let me know in the comments below or in a private email through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

The Power of Baptism

Have you been born again? That is a question I have been asked by a lot of people over the years. Usually by folks who aren’t very sure what that question really means.

Born Of Water and Spirit

Jesus answered him [Nicodemus], “Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see God’s Kingdom.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into God’s Kingdom! That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:3-8 WEB

This is where the phrase “Born again” comes from (rendered in this translation as “born anew”). Yet what most people pass over, is that Jesus is talking about a real birth. They ask if you have made the decision to be born again by asking Jesus into your heart.

This, however, is rather absurd. Nowhere is asking Jesus into your heart mentioned. Also, no one asked your permission for you to be born physically. You had no say in the matter. The truth is, your spiritual birth is the same way.

The Means of Grace

But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward mankind appeared, not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior; that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This saying is faithful, and concerning these things I desire that you affirm confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men [that is mankind];

Titus 3:4-8 WEB

Being born again is not our choice, but God’s promise. Baptism is not our work, but His. We are reborn anew of the Spirit because God said we would be. Not because we said the right prayer with enough sincerity (for who can honestly claim to have been truly sincere), and not because we were dunked into the right amount of holy water.

It is solely because God promised and because God always delivers on His promises.

Your Faith Does not Matter

In the last few posts, we have covered the particular blessings of baptism. So here I want to cover a very important topic. Your faith or level of understanding does not make or break baptism.

So many people are wrongly and sinfully rebaptized because they think they did not understand what was happening the first time or because they did not really believe correctly the first time. They doubt whether their baptism was right or accepted because of their own shortcomings.

Guess what, that will always be true as long as you make God’s work out to be your own. You do not bring anything to baptism. Your faith does not matter, your understanding does not matter. What matters is God. That He promised baptism would mean something. That it would forgive you your sins, make you His own child, and free you from the devil. That is what matters. So in baptism, and in life, rely solely on God.

Next Time

Today we have talked about trusting in God for all of His promises, even those we are tempted to make our own. Next time we will continue this idea in the concept of forgiveness.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.