“Begone, Satan!”

More from that Lenten sermon on the Temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11).  From Rev. James Douthwaite, St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Lent 1 Sermon:

This story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness shows you Jesus fighting for you. And that’s more important because I could stand up here all day and tell you to fight against satan with the Word of God until I’m blue in the face and you know what? You’ll still sin. Satan will still get the better of you. You’ll still fall for and believe his lies and false goods, especially when he attacks you in your weaknesses and at the worst possible times. You know it’s true. Jesus as your example cannot save you.

But Jesus as the one who came to fight satan for you and win can. And does. We sang it earlier: But for us fights the valiant One, whom God Himself elected. Ask ye who is this? Jesus Christ it is! (LSB #656 v. 2) And so right after Jesus stands with sinners in the Jordan and is baptized for us, He is led out into the wilderness to begin the battle – the battle that will culminate at the cross. And there satan’s “if you are the Son of God” will ring in His ears yet again, coming this time from the mockers, taunting Him to come down from the cross and show that He really is who He claimed to be. That would be good . . . To show everyone that He is the Son of God . . . right? [Read more…]

What’s whiter than snow?

Here in Northern Virginia we woke up to about 12 inches of it, and it looks like there is that much still in the air coming down. And we’re supposed to get another wave tonight. It’s a snow day–one of those gifts of free time that are unplanned for so are not already booked with other kinds of busyness–so it’s peaceful, with the fireplace blazing, with my mug of coffee, as I look out the back window watching the woods fill up with snow.

I know, though, that the winter storm is wreaking havoc across much of the nation. And I dread having to shovel all of this. And I hope the power lines don’t come down.

In the meantime, I am taking consolation in this: The utter purity of snow covering up all of the dirt, dead grass, and pretty much everything is a sign of what God has done with our sins:

“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

“Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).

Since weather is one of those great topics of conversation, how are you doing where you are? Are any of you in desperate straits, in need of prayer from the rest of us?

Christmas giving and Christmas receiving

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Consider that receiving gifts is a sign of the Gospel.  And giving gifts is a sign of Vocation.

May this day be full of reminders of Jesus Christ and all of His blessings to you.

Justification by Faith Alone is Still the Issue

Back in the 1990s, I was asked to be on the council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, an organization dedicated to applying the solas of the Reformation to contemporary Christianity.  Organizations change, and I’m not a part of it anymore.  But I was recently asked to contribute a post for the group’s website  Place for Truth.  The topic?  Whether the Reformation is still relevant today.  I said, “yes.”  More specifically, I argued that the major issue in Christianity today is the same as it was in 1517, a notion that is currently under almost unprecedented attack, even by Protestants:  Justification by faith alone.

See my essay after the jump. [Read more…]

Pope Francis as evangelical?

In our continuing effort to try to figure out the new Pope of Rome–is he a liberal? a traditionalist?  a traditionalist acting liberal?–another possibility has presented itself:  Is he evangelical?  (Not “an evangelical,” but evangelical in the sense of stressing the Gospel–grace, Christ, the Word of God–more than the typical Roman Catholic pontiff?) [Read more…]

What Legalism & Licentiousness have in common

An objection being made to Tullian Tchividjian’s op-ed piece in the Washington Post that we blogged about yesterday (and that came up in our discussion too) is that legalism just isn’t the problem in the church today.  Rather, churches are rife with licentiousness.   Too much preaching of grace and forgiveness can encourage people to keep sinning.  We need more preaching of the Law to encourage people to act morally.

Actually, though, both legalism and licentiousness are different forms of self-righteousness.  The legalist thinks to earn God’s favor by his rectitude.  The libertine does whatever he wants with no guilt to hold him back.  Both are antinomian, denying their condemnation under the Law.  Both reject the Gospel because they think they don’t need it.  Neither has faith.  (Since good works are the fruits of faith, if you don’t have good works, you need more faith, which means you need more Gospel.)

That’s the way I see it.  After the jump, read Rev. Tchividjian’s response. [Read more…]


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