And right there you have the problem with the much of the American church today, and much of the church of history: striving for the wrong approval and working to please the wrong person. Was St. Paul cold-hearted or indifferent to the needs of others? Surely not. He didn’t purposefully offend. Far from that, he went out of his way to avoid giving offense in his ministry, but never at the expense of law and gospel, never at the expense of the centrality of Jesus Christ, for without the proper distinction of law and gospel and the centrality of Christ there is no God-pleasing and truly Christian ministry. Continue reading “Galatians 1:10”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Most of us are familiar with the saying, and the saying gets said for a reason: we love to tinker, and our tinkering often leaves things worse off than they were before. The gospel isn’t broken. It never has been and never will be. And yet in every age of the church, Christians and hypocrites alike have set to tinkering with it, whether purposefully or out of ignorance, whether with every good intention or with malice. The gospel is not ours, though. It is God’s, given to us, but not ours to tinker with. Things of God don’t break. Things of God are good, very good, and unchanging, like God Himself. They are sure and certain. They are reliable and always relevant, no matter what anyone says. And that is crucial. That is the reason that the Christian faith has chops. It has something to hold onto, something to bite into, something on which to rest. Continue reading “Galatians 1:6-9”
Love and wholeness, isn’t that what most people want? Write a book on those topics and it’s going to sell. As human beings, we are born with a yearning for love and wholeness, we are born, in essence, with a hole in our heart that we then spend our days trying to fill. The bad news is that our old Adam and fallen reason turn to everything but what can actually fill that hole and satisfy the hungry heart and longing soul, whether a bank account, bottle, library, mirror, or one-night stand. In the end, what was never intended to fill that hole can only exacerbate our yearning, increase our frustration, and enlarge that emptiness within. And so, quite understandably, Paul begins by wishing the Galatians grace (God’s underserved love) and peace (wholeness, a right relationship with God). And not only that, but more than simply wishing them such significant things, he continues to tell them how these blessings come to us. Notice, they come to us, and we do not come to them. The answer does come from a bottle, on a plate, in a book, but not in the way fallen men would suppose. The answer comes, not in creations, but with the Creator, who uses creation to bring us these, His greatest gifts, grace and peace, love and wholeness, through the Means of Grace. Continue reading “Galatians 1:3-5”
Galatians Devotions (Getting Started)
We are hoping to start offering somewhat regular devotions here on the website. To get us started, Wade is going to be offering some devotions he wrote in the parish on the first half of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. If he has time, he will write more to get us through the entire letter. Today is our first installment. Rather than inserting the biblical text into each devotion from a translation, we’re hoping you can dust off your Bibles and read the verses from whatever you currently use. If not, you can always find them online. If you find these helpful, please do share away. We definitely appreciate it.
Today we begin a new epistle, St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. This epistle is paramount for a correct understanding of the distinction of law and gospel, which, together with Jesus Christ, who is the heart and core of Scripture, is the key to understanding God’s revelation to mankind. Paul begins by explaining who he is to write such an epistle, to teach in the church, since no one is to preach or teach in the church without a call, as we are reminded in the Augsburg Confession. Paul’s call originated from the same place as the call of every pastor and teacher, but it came to him in a quite different fashion than calls received today. While pastors today are called by Christ through the church, St. Paul was called directly by Christ. Call to mind his conversion account again, which he will retell later in this epistle. Paul was called, and not only to be a pastor, but to be an apostle, an office in the church of much wider scope and unique to the time immediately following our Lord’s ascension. Paul was called through Jesus Christ and God the Father to bring the gospel to Jew and Gentile, to Israel and, in particular, beyond its borders to the Gentiles. The Galatians knew this. Paul had already preached and taught among them, but now as he must warn them against false teachers and admonish them for their failure to hold fast to the pattern of sound words and teaching, he reminds them of this, so that they dare not question who he was to take such a task upon himself and why in the world they should bother to listen to him and not to the preachers whose self-serving and convenient words tickled their ears and appealed to their old Adams. Continue reading “Galatians Devotions (Getting Started)”
The Blessing of Brothers
I am guessing most of what I have to say in this post would apply to our sisters, too, but I can only speak to my own experience as a man, so while this isn’t just for the guys out there, please forgive me if my experience and perspective is somewhat narrow. That being said, I’ve been thinking today about the blessing of brothers, first, because I missed out on a chance to drink beer with some after the district conference north of me tonight, and with good reason, as my daughter had her softball banquet (she got her varsity letter as a freshman) and my truck needs some fixing (nothing major), and, second, because I’ve been so blessed by what this podcast has become and afforded me. Continue reading “The Blessing of Brothers”
Episode 11: Law and Gospel (A first pass)
Beware the Fearmonger
It seems like the sky is falling every other day now. From politics to culture to religion to about anything else, there’s one purported cataclysm after another on the horizon. Thankfully, there are plenty of people willing to tell us about them, to give us quick answers, to point the way, to give shallow analysis and paint quick panoramas. Beware the fearmonger, though. Those who live off or for crises are often the last you should give the time of day. Yes, there are legitimate crises, but those are never as clean and so easily labeled and summarized as the fearmonger claims. Continue reading “Beware the Fearmonger”
Wingin’ It 10.1: Luther Biographies for the Luther Year
Why the Church Year (Episodes)?
Sometimes people, extremely well-meaning people, even and especially those who have grown up in historic churches who observe the ancient church year and its propers and festivals and all that, will ask a very innocent question, “Why observe the church year?” Also sometimes, people, not so well-meaning people, especially those who have grown up in such churches, will ask the same question, but not so much for an answer as for an opening to explain why we Christians should give up our calendar. Continue reading “Why the Church Year (Episodes)?”
Pentecost from the Pew
For ten years I was a Lutheran preacher. That was my vocation. And that’s what I did, preached, a lot. And Pentecost was always an interesting Sunday. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s hard to read an account like that without questioning one’s ministry. I mean, just once, couldn’t I have a Pentecost Sunday? Or couldn’t we compromise? Maybe not thousands, and, fine, not hundreds, or even dozens, but maybe a handful would come to faith and be baptized? It’s hard to imagine what it must have felt like Peter, preaching a sermon and having such immediate results. Continue reading “Pentecost from the Pew”
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