World Wide Wolfmueller

Law and Gospel in Joyful Clarity

Author: bwolfmueller@gmail.com (page 1 of 60)

Where the Law Should and Should Not Go: A Sermon Preached by Pr Jared Melius

A few weeks back Hope Lutheran Church hosted the Steadfast Lutheran Conference on the Three Estates. The following sermon was preached by Pastor Jared Melius of Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, Denver, CO, on Friday, July 21, 2017 to begin the conference. It is fantastic.

 

The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ is this: that for the sake of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, your sins are forgiven and you are reconciled with God. Your sins are not counted against you. This is irrespective of if your sins have been relatively minor and have just kind of collected like dirt on a filter over the years or whether you’ve had major infractions that haunt you. God thinks nothing of your sins now for the sake of Jesus. In fact, even more than that, God Himself has declared you free from all condemnation, all guilt, and all punishment. God as the almighty judge has justified the ungodly, he has released guilty prisoners who didn’t deserve it. He has released you. That is the Gospel, and there is not a truer Word of God in all the Scriptures.

We, however, are gathered here for a conference to study the Three Estates, which is not the Gospel. It is the Law. It is the three realms or over-arching stations that the Lord’s commandments – his Law! – apply to us. Now, when it comes to the Gospel, we are given merely to hear the Word in humility and believe it. That’s it. But, when it comes to the Law, we Christians are given a far more demanding duty. We must exercise wisdom when hearing the Law.

It’s not as easy, apparently, as saying, “Well, if there’s law, then isn’t it just that we’re supposed to follow it? Or at least give it our best shot?” No. There is far more than that. You will find in the    Bible places where we are urged strenuously to apply ourselves to the Law of God and follow it and grow in it. Not just anybody, but Christians. The law is highly,  highly regarded. But you will also find places in the Bible where the law is degraded in what I think are just shocking ways. In other words, there are places where Christians are told that we are still bound up to the law and if they aren’t they are not Christians. And, there are places where    Christians are told they not bound by the law and if they think they are… they are not Christians. So which is? Are we supposed to take the law seriously or not?

Well, the answer is both. We are bound to the law AND we are free from the law. Now here is the outline: Before a Christian can even begin to understand how they are bound to the law and must keep, they must FIRST understand how they are free from it. And this is best described by St. Paul in Romans 7.

He says in the strongest possible terms how we Christians are free from the law. In fact, he says it even stronger than that, that we are “dead to the law through the body of Christ.”I’ll read it: “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit for God.” 

Imagine that your heart is like a big mansion, one of those twisty kinds of mansions with all sorts of rooms and back stairways and secret passages. If your heart is like that, there are certain rooms where the law is allowed and should be given full access, but there are other rooms in your heart where the door must be shut and locked so that the law has no access. The law should not be allowed access into your confidence room. Nor into your standing before God room. It should not be allowed into the room where you consider if you will go to heaven or if God loves you. In fact, it should not even be allowed into that room where you consider if you are a good person before God’s face, because your goodness or badness is determined by Jesus’ declaration and He by grace has declared you righteous in the     Gospel – not the Law. From these rooms, the Law must be strictly forbidden. Now the problem is that the law is like a little 8-year-old boy, who is always trying to wiggle into rooms and find secret passages into a room where he does not belong.

Now some have thought that it would be safest to simply bar the whole mansion of your heart from the law. Pay no heed to it at all.   Allow it in none of the rooms! But that’s wrong. There is a place for considering the 3 estates, the godly vocations given by God and blessed by Him. In fact, if you pay careful attention here to Paul’s words in Romans 7, he says that “we should become dead to the law through the body of Christ… that we should bear fruit for God.”

Well… I have a feeling – I could be wrong – but I have a feeling that there are some of you here who are not altogether dead to the law. You’re still alive to it a bit. And so Paul’s saying that you must be dead to it will come as a great relief. Lay aside your stress about making sure you’re doing life right. You’re trying so hard to hold yourself together before your neighbor and before God Himself. Stop. God does not and He never did need your efforts; He loved you and suffered His dear Son to die for you before you ever took a breath. Before you ever thought to get things right, He already made them right in His Son Jesus Christ. You’ve done a lot of things well; and a lot of things not so well. None of it determines your standing. Jesus does.

Very well. Once that has been stapled into your conscience firm, that the Lord loves you – in Jesus and for no other reason – now we can proceed to give full consideration as to how to best to please the Lord in our vocations – free from accusation.

Amen.

#MartyrMonday: St. James the Great

 

James the Great

The next martyr we meet with, according to St. Luke, in the History of the Apsotles’ Acts, was James the son of Zebedee, the elder brother of John, and a relative of our Lord; for his mother Salome was cousin-german to the Virgin Mary. It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place; for no sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than, with a view to ingratiate himself with them, he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make an effectual blow, by striking at their leaders. The account given us by an eminent primitive writer, Clemens Alexandrinus, ought not to be overlooked; that, as James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the apostle’s extraordinary courage and undauntedness, and fell down at his feet to request his pardon, professing himself a Christian, and resolving that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. Hence they were both beheaded at the same time. Thus did the first apostolic martyr cheerfully and resolutely receive that cup, which he had told our Savior he was ready to drink. Timon and Parmenas suffered martyrdom about the same time; the one at Philippi, and the other in Macedonia. These events took place A.D. 44.

Foxes Book of Martyrs

Lord, Teach Us to Pray (Martin Luther’s Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer), Published!

Here’s the latest edition of Everyone’s LutherLord, Teach Us to Pray, Martin Luther’s Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer!

You can download a PDF copy of the book for free here: Lord Teach Us to Pray.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can pick up an unapproved print version through Lulu for $4 here.  (Use these codes: “FWD15” for 15% off, and “ONESHIP” for free shipping for this weekend.)

(Use these codes: “FWD15” for 15% off, and “ONESHIP” for free shipping for this weekend.)

I’ll let you know when I have hands on the print copy and everything looks good.

I think this would be a wonderful book to give to friends and family.

And, we’ll be using this text as the outline for the next few months on Issues, Etc. So,

It’s a short read, 40 pages with big font. So, download a copy and listen as Luther unfolds the most wonderful of all prayers, taught to us by our Lord Jesus.

-PrBW

Tech and Tools, August 2017

I made a little list of the Tech and Tools I use to get stuff done for this weeks Wednesday What-Not. I thought I would drop the information here, and try to keep it updated as things change, and the new and better replaces the old, etc.


Tech and Tools, First Annual Edition…

I’m always poking around for different tools to get things done. I thought it might be helpful to create an inventory of the tools I’m using (with the hope that you will find something helpful here for you as well). Let me know. And if I’m missing something, send me a note.

Bible: Thomas Nelson Pocket Reference Edition
New King James Version. Center-column cross-reference. Good concordance. Nice font. Perfect size. I love this Bible. I’ve been through three of them now, and the one I have is getting fairly beaten up. It’s out of print, so if you find a box in the back of a Bible bookstore, call me.

World English Bible (https://worldenglishbible.org/)
The W.E.B. is a public domain translation of the Bible. I’ve been using it a lot lately, and it is pretty good. The website isn’t that fancy. The text is good, and it is really wonderful to have a free Bible version to build things with.

Pen & Paper: Lamy Safari
I picked it up in the airport in Germany. It’s the best I’ve ever used. I always keep a piece of paper around for notes, folded like this. Just about every Wednesday What-Not idea started out as a note on my little one-sheet books.

Inbox for Gmail (inbox.google.com)
There’s no easier way to get to inbox-0. When Flamme switched he said, “I feel like I have grown-up email now.”

Google Calendar (calendar.google.com)
I’ve got lots of different calendars which different people can access. Especially helpful has been the creation of the Hope Lutheran Church Pastoral Care Calendar, which has birthdays, anniversaries, baptismal birthdays, anniversaries of deaths of members, etc.

Evernote (www.evernote.com)
I use Evernote as my to-do and project management list. I have it set up for Getting Things Done in some crazy way, using tags for projects, urgency, and contexts. I used to use a little Chinese program called Doit.im for years, and like it, but I switched to Evernote because of the flexibility the various ways to capture information. I pay $3.99 a month so that I can forward emails into Evernote.

Trello (www.trello.com)
I’ve been using Trello as a shared project management platform. Pr Flamme and I have a Trello board for pastoral care which helps us track people in the hospital, homebound visits, etc. We have an office Trello set up which helps manage the daily work of the church. The church council even has a Trello Board where reports are posted and the agenda is set, and we work off that board for more streamlined meetings. If you are a visual person, Trello is a great productivity tool.

Getting Things Done (http://gettingthingsdone.com/)
This is the beginning of productivity thinking for me. I’ve mentioned it before, but if we are talking tools, this is a big one.

Trip-It (www.tripit.com)
Email your travel plans and they are magically sorted, but on your calendar and into the app for easy access.

Kayak (www.kayak.com)
On the travel topic, I’ve been relying on Kayak to find flights for the last six years. I’ve tried other sites, and always come back to kayak.

Buffer (www.buffer.com)
Buffer is great for social media management. I can post things to Facebook without going to Facebook, !spread posts out through the day, etc. This helps me keep my “Four O’Clock Facebook” only engage in social media once a day plan. Pablo is a sister program that allows you to quickly edit and share images from the internet. It’s also very slick and fun to use.

Grammarly (www.grammarly.com)
This Chrome plug-in is great for spell and grammar check. I’m a terrible proofreader. Grammarly does the heavy lifting for me. (Now I need to figure out how to get it to work with Evernote.) I recently downloaded the Grammarly extension for Word, and it looks promising.

WordPress (www.wordpress.com)
www.wolfmueller.co is a WordPress site. We use Weebly for www.whatdoesthismean.org. Both are great, but I like the flexibility and low-cost of WordPress.

Gimp (www.gimp.org)
This is a free graphic manipulation program that is pretty powerful. I’ve used it to make the covers for Everyone’s Luther and the other graphics for some books, etc. I’m not the best, but Gimp seems to do the trick. I’ve got all the Adobe programs, but I still haven’t made the jump from Gimp to Photoshop.

Spotify (www.spotify.com)
For music.

Player FM (www.player.fm)
For podcasts.

MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com)
For Wednesday What-Nots. Also for the Around the Word devotions. We even started using MailChimp to send out a weekly newsletter for Hope.

Dropbox (www.dropbox.com)
I also have One Drive and Google Drive for cloud storage, and have different things in different places for no good reason, but Dropbox seems like the easiest thing to use. I use it to backup the photos from my phone. We use it to transfer audio for TTR and video for WEtv. I have, lately, been using Google Drive and Google Docs a bit more, especially for projects that will mostly run through email. A lot of the project support files for the Germany trips are in Google Drive.

IFTTT (www.ifttt.com)
If you don’t know it, this site is pretty nice. It automates all sorts of things. When we post the Sunday Sermon audio, IFTTT sends it to Facebook and my website. When I post something on the blog IFTTT sends it out to Twitter and Facebook through Buffer. When an Issues. Etc episode is tagged with my name, IFTTT sends it to the website. All this stuff happens without me touching it.

Lulu (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/wolfmueller )
Publishes all the books. What an amazing tool.

Logos Bible Software
I have it, and I’m using it more and more, but still not enough for me to think it was worth the price. There are so many free Bible Study tools, I don’t think you need it. The best thing about it is having the American Edition of Luther’s Works available.

SBL Greek New Testament App (link)
This one’s for your phone. I can’t recommend it enough.

(One day I’ll build a list of the best Bible Study tools online.)

And, speaking of phone stuff…

I have a Samsung Galaxy S7 with service from T-Mobile. (T-Mobile’s price is hard to beat, they don’t give you trouble about unlocking your phone, and their international plan is lights out. Free international data roaming!)

I use my phone for almost everything, including recording the Grappling (using the Cinema FV-5 app so I can lock the focus) and man-on-the-street videos, recording the audio of Bible Class, and taking and posting all the pictures from our trip. I use it for podcasts, etc. Somehow I ended up with a 256 GB SD card, so I’m able to load the guy up with books from Google Books. I have a few Evernote Widgets that pull down my urgent and phone to-dos.

I also have a Samsung tablet (Tab S2, I think) with a Bluetooth keyboard. I’ve been using this a stand-in for my computer when traveling. It can’t quite handle everything the laptop can, but it is extremely portable and fast. I’ve been trying to use it to read more, and it is really nice to cut and paste chunks of text into Evernote and Buffer. I think you’ll see more blog posts with “Reading Notes” coming along soon.

Google Books (books.google.com)
You can find all sorts of free old public domain books here. I’ve found a bunch of great theological resources, including Bullinger’s Critical Lexicon, and Schmid’s Doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. I’m using Christopher Wordsworth Commentary on the New Testament to fill out my notes for Revelation and 1 Peter. Ludhart is there. Luther is there. Chesterton is there. Krauth is there. I recently downloaded Athanasius’s On the Incarnation in Greek and English. It’s like having a library in your pocket.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but if you’ve made it this far, you probably forgot how this started.

Thanks for reading. I’m really happy to be able to touch base with you all each week.
Lord’s Blessings, and keep in touch!

Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller

#MartyrMonday: St. Steven

St. Stephen

St. Stephen suffered the next in order. His death was occasioned by the faithful manner in which he preached the Gospel to the betrayers and murderers of Christ. To such a degree of madness were they excited, that they cast him out of the city and stoned him to death. The time when he suffered is generally supposed to have been at the passover which succeeded to that of our Lord’s crucifixion, and to the era of his ascension, in the following spring.Upon this a great persecution was raised against all who professed their belief in Christ as the Messiah, or as a prophet. We are immediately told by St. Luke, that “there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem;” and that “they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.”

About two thousand Christians, with Nicanor, one of the seven deacons, suffered martyrdom during the “persecution that arose about Stephen.”

(from Foxes’ Book of Martyrs)

The Different Sacrifices of the Old Testament are Types of the Different Aspects of the Atonement

A beautiful excerpt from Christian Dogmatics and Notes on the History of Dogma (1922):
Christ became the perfect antitype of the principal sacrifices : the sin-offering implied expiatio, the trespass-offering indemnificatio, the burnt-offering oblatio, the peace-offering conciliatio. The same holds with regard to the offering of the covenant in Ex. 24, the offering of consecration in Lev. 8, and the offering of the Passover, since Christ is our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7).
Conrad Emil Lindberg, Christian Dogmatics and Notes of the History of Dogma, page 260. (This text is in the public domain, I’ve downloaded it to my Google Book app. )

Martin Luther’s Genesis Commentary (Chapters 1-4)

Alright! Here it is, the study edition of Luther’s Genesis Commentary, chapters 1-4.

400 pages with wide margins for notes, and, as always, you can download this for free, or spend $15 and pick it up from Lulu. 

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD | PURCHASE, $15 (Lulu)

Martin Luther’s Genesis Commentary is the last (and perhaps greatest) work of Luther. Spanning the last ten years of his life and work, the Genesis Lectures capture the full wisdom of the Evangelical Reformer. This book is a publication of Luther’s comments on Genesis chapters one through four, copied from the public domain text of Lenker (1904).

Luther’s commentary is really phenomenal. Especially in these last days, we all do well to understand rightly the first days of the cosmos.

Please share this with your friends and family. And, as you engage with Luther, please post your thoughts and questions in the comments.

Let’s all hear Luther’s voice again, and rejoice in hearing of Jesus in Genesis.

-PrBW

 

Everyone’s Luther: Genesis Chapter Three Commentary

One of the most important chapters in the Bible, Genesis three teaches us about humanity’s fall into sin and the Lord’s first promise of redemption.

Martin Luther unfolds the text, the story, and the theology in masterful fashion in this commentary.

PURCHASE $5 | FREE PDF DOWNLOAD

Six Questions for An Evolutionist

I reject Evolutionist Cosmology for two chief reasons. First, I believe the Bible. Second, I’m against violence, especially when it is exalted to the source and mean of life.

But, I also think there are some practical, historical, and moral problems with Evolutionism. So I’ll get to it, I have six questions for the Evolutionist. I invite your answers in the comments.

  1. Where are the fossils of the transitional forms?
  2. How does the eye evolve? 
  3. Are there examples of increasing genetic complexity?
  4. How did we get from no life to life?
  5. Where did stuff come from?
  6. What is good?

I suppose there are answers to these questions. I’m interested to see if they hold up. Each question points to what I perceive as a problem of Evolutionism. So, a few brief comments.

You’ll notice the questions move from historical to philosophical to ethical.

Where are the fossils of the transitional forms? (The historical problem) If the Evolutionist’s story of millions of years of gradual transition from one form to another is true, the evidence of these transitions ought to be everywhere. To my knowing, they are not.

How does the eye evolve? (The problem of irreducible complexity) The viability of so many biological systems completely depends on other systems. A fully formed eye does not good if there is no optic nerve. The optic nerve is no help if the brain cannot sort out the signals. If one of a hundred things go wrong the entire system is a detriment to life.

Are there examples of increasing genetic complexity? (The genetic problem) I have never seen an example of mutation resulting in increased genetic complexity. Each example my Biology books gave of mutation was a manifestation of traits already contained in the genetic code. I’m particularly interested to see if there is something to read on this question.

How did we get from no life to life?  (The gap problem) Some things are not in a continuity. You can slowly progress from one thing to another. There is nothing between life and not life. It’s a gap. A jump. How did we make the jump? There are other gaps as well: One-cell to two-cells (which is non-reproducing to reproducing), un-conscience to conscience.

Where did stuff come from? (The materialist problem) Is there a source of stuff (matter, energy), or is there no source (and therefore eternal)? And if eternal, why are things not completely uniform (according to the apparent laws of thermodynamics)? Is there a first cause? Can we know?

What is good? (The moral question) This is the question that all the atheists I’ve talked to are obsessed over. Every essay contest is “How to Be Good without God.” I still haven’t seen a convincing argument, and, in fact, I have a growing conviction that Evolutionism is, in fact, not only amoral but immoral. I’m glad we don’t consistently apply the maxims of the survival of the fittest.

Anyhow, send all your Evolutionist friends over here to post up answers in the comments.

PrBW

 

 

Here’s an interesting story that doesn’t really matter. I thought of these six questions years ago. I wrote them on a scrap of paper on my way to Bible Class. I taught them, and then I lost the paper. I always remembered “The Six Questions,” but I couldn’t remember what they were. And I couldn’t reproduce them.

Anyhow, last night I was teaching on the First Article of the Creed (“I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”) and we were talking about Creation vs Evolutionism.  I said something like, “I used to have six questions to ask the Evolutionist, but I lost my list…” and Cindi, reviewing the class, says, “I remember that list. I might have it.” Low and behold, the list!

So, I’m now posting it up here so that it won’t be lost again.

Show #410: The Easter Crunch Continued

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Listen here: http://tabletalkradio.org/content/node/526

As if crunching praise songs wasn’t enough for 1 week, we continued to crunch praise songs for the second week of Easter. How many weeks does Easter last again?

from Table Talk Radio Podcasts SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST: http://tabletalkradio.org/content/

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