Caution: Intense Law & intense Gospel

Sunday was the commemoration of St. Matthew.  In the Gospel lesson, Matthew tells about how Jesus called him, tax collector though he was, and how the Pharisees thought about him:

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

10 And as Jesusreclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)

Our pastor took this text and played off of the indignation that people are feeling about NFL stars Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.  He turned it into a powerful sermon.  Read it all at the link, but I give excerpts after the jump.  CAUTION:  INTENSE Law and INTENSE Gospel. [Read more...]

Evangelizing the condemned Nazis

Last year almost to the day we blogged about  Rev. Henry Gerecke, the LCMS military chaplain who was pressed into service as the Protestant chaplain at Nuremberg, charged with ministering to the Nazi war criminals who were on trial there, many of whom were executed.  There is now  book out about Chaplain Gerecke:  Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend.

It tells how he used both firmness and compassion, applying both the Law and the Gospel, in an effort to bring these moral monsters to repentance and to Christ.  Which he apparently did with at least 4 of the 11 who were hanged.  Then again, Hermann Goering repudiated Christianity just hours before he committed suicide by biting a  smuggled cyanide tablet, calling Jesus “just another smart Jew.”  After the jump, an excerpt from a review of the book.
[Read more...]

Cheap Grace

We often hear references to Bonhoeffer’s term “cheap grace.”  In an essay defending Christians who are trying to separate themselves from the world–which I recommend that you read–Rod Dreher usefully quotes the entire passage and its context from The Cost of Discipleship dealing with “cheap grace.”

Read the passage after the jump, and then help me think about it. [Read more...]

When life contradicts God’s Word

Last Sunday, the sermon was about that puzzling passage in which Jesus seems at first to reject the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28).  Pastor Douthwaite solved that puzzle in a definitive way in a sermon that was incredibly profound and helpful. [Read more...]

Pentecost as holiday of Law and Gospel

For the Jews in Jesus’ time and today, Pentecost was a celebration of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, which was thought to have happened 50 days after Passover.  So for centuries, it was a holiday that celebrated the Law.  But then, on the same day, God gave His people the Holy Spirit, making it also a holiday celebrating the Gospel. [Read more...]

Moralism of the right & moralism of the left

United Methodists are considering whether or not to have an amicable split, so as to accommodate both sides of the moral debates that the denomination is struggling with.  As I know from personal and family experience, Methodists have always had a strong emphasis on morality.  It certainly has an evangelistic strain, with its roots in the Wesleyan revivals, but its moral focus can tend to moralism, an emphasis on moral rectitude that overshadows the forgiveness of Christ.

The prospect of a Methodist split shows what is happening across many denominations.  There is a moralism of the right, fixating on traditional sexual morality, personal vices, and family values.  And there is a moralism of the left, fixating on “social justice,” care for the poor, and political liberalism.  (Note that it is possible to uphold what is “moral” without succumbing to “moralism.”)

But what–or, rather, Who–is often missing in moralistic churches of both the right and the left is Christ.  The right often relegates Him to the moment of conversion, whereupon Christians can then get to the real business of regulating their behavior.  The left reduces Him to a political liberal like themselves.  Both treat Him mainly as an example, rather than as Savior, Redeemer, and Sacrifice. [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X