World Wide Wolfmueller

Law and Gospel in Joyful Clarity

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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.

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

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.

Martin Luther’s Commentary on Genesis 2, Published!

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD | BOOK $5 (Lulu link)

Another day, another chapter of Luther’s Genesis Commentary! If you guys can wait a few days, I think we’ll publish chapters 1-4 altogether in a study edition.

(If you guys can wait a few days, I think we’ll publish chapters 1-4 altogether in a study edition.) But if you are anxious, SAVENOW30 at Lulu check out will make these cost $3.50 each! That’s pretty cool.

You are really going to love Luther’s Genesis Commentary. Almost everyone who’s read it claims that it is Luther’s best.

PrBW

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD | BOOK $5 (Lulu link)

 

Find Luther’s Commentary on Genesis Chapter One Here.

 

Praise for Luther’s Genesis Commentary

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD | PRINT BOOK ($5, LULU)

“Whoever has not read this Commentary is not worthy of the name of a theologian.”

-Daniel Cramer (1630)

 

“A golden book.”

-Abraham Calov (1671)

 

“A work that cannot be praised enough.”

-Thomas Crenius (1704)

 

“As an expositor of the holy Scriptures Luther’s comments contain a depth of investigation unpenetrated, a width of meditation unspanned, an extent of research unoccupied, a scriptural knowledge unpossessed, a variety of reflections unevinced, a multitude of wonders unrevealed, a number of beauties undiscovered, a value of instruction uncommunicated, a spirit of holiness unbreathed, a height of praise unascended, a depth of worship unfathomed, and a magnification of the Scriptures as the Word of God, unsurpassed and unequalled by any commentator, before or since his day.”

-Dr Henry Cole

 

 

“It is a treasure more precious that gold, containing inestimable riches of holy thoughts, so that some have rightly judged that this is the best of all Luther’s books.”

-John Heinreich von Seelen

 

“In this book all theologians must go to school, and no one will graduate in it. Luther, the man of God, has so clearly and richly treated in it nearly all the greatest and most important articles of our Christian faith, that the like, the holy Bible alone excepted, has not appeared in the world and indeed will not. It will be and remain indeed a ‘Thesaurus thesaurorum,’ a treasury of treasuries, and a perennial fountain of all consolation, along with the Bible.”

-Timothy Kirchner (1565)

 

“Read the following ‘Consummatum Est,’ ‘It Is Finished,’ of this holy man, ‘The Beloved Genesis,’ in which as in a new world he brings forth and opens up not only certain parts but all the treasures and riches of the wisdom of the divine Word, so that there is not another book like it on earth since the times of the apostles. Luther’s Genesis makes all theologians scholars.”

-Joachim Morlin (1570)

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD | PRINT BOOK ($5, LULU)

 

 

READ LUTHER! READ LUTHER!! READ LUTHER!!!

This is great!

From Dr. John  Lenker’s introduction to volume 1 of Luther’s Genesis Commentary, 1904 (link):

READ LUTHER! READ LUTHER!! READ LUTHER!!!

Why? Because as a true intelligent Protestant you cannot read any thing better. Millions of people have said and millions more will say next to the Bible they received more from Luther’s writings than from all other books combined. And if you take the Protestant professors of our land, and for that matter of all lands, they all together would come far short of making a Luther. He was not only ahead of his times, but on many subjects he is far ahead of our age. Yes, when we keep company with Luther we feel we are behind the times, on subjects like Romanism, Protestantism, Christian schools, Christian libraries, the Christian family, the Christian state, and many Christian social problems. It is possible to go backwards as well as forwards.

How can I read Luther when I have not his books and I cannot afford to purchase them? Our cry is not Buy Luther! Buy Luther!! Buy Luther!!! But Read Luther! Read Luther!! Read Luther!!! Many buy Luther’s works and do not read them. They can afford to purchase them all and as they have a beautiful book-case with glass doors, perhaps the finest piece of furniture in their homes, as the style now is (for what is a home without an up-to-date book-case?), they subscribe for all Luther’s works for a show in their book-case, and we ask can you name a set of books that makes a better show in any public or private library than Luther’s works, especially in a Protestant library? They are also really a far better investment than these large, thick, cheap but dear, subscription books, which are nice only while they are new and then they fade and the outside becomes as bad as the inside. When you look at the libraries of many Protestant homes, you pity them, first because of what they have not and then because of what they have.

But Luther’s writings should go into the home library not for a show nor for an investment, but to be read. Perhaps there is no passage of Scripture that our homes should take to heart just now more than the advice of Father Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy: “Give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” 1 Tim. 4:13-14. Give heed that you read something, that you read the best, and give heed how you read, that the gifts in you may not be neglected. Then the right, sound exhortation and pure teaching will follow. Notice the order is first, give heed to reading. Many have never read any writings of Luther except perhaps his small catechism. They have not built very well on the foundation laid. When one thinks of the solid Christian books our German and Scandinavian parents read and what the children read now-a-days, you must sigh.

Again many say I have now more books than I can read and if I buy more I will not read them. Well, you will not lose much if you do not read many books you have, but if you would sell these and buy a few of the classic writings of Protestantism and read and read them again and again, you would be blessed, and just such a work is Luther on Genesis.

 

This perfectly captures the spirit of the Everyone’s Luther collection. I’m working on the Genesis lectures now.

If you want to keep up to date about this and other projects, you should subscribe to everybody’s favorite e-news-letter in the universe: Wednesday What-Not. To quote Nacho Libre, “It’s the beeeest!”

-PrBW

The Epitome of the Formula of Concord, Published

FREE DOWNLOAD | PRINT EDITION ($5)

A number of political and theological controversies followed after the death of Martin Luther (in 1546). These controversies included the topics of Original Sin, Righteousness, Law and Gospel, Good Works, the Lord’s Supper, Election, and more.

In an attempt to settle these controversies and bring about a theological unity among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession, a meeting was held in Torgau from April until June of 1576. Momentum from this meeting inspired the writing of a confession, The Formula of Concord, a year later.

The two leading theologians were Jakob Andrea and Martin Chemnitz.

The Epitome of the Formula of Concord was published first in 1577. It provides profound insight into the theology of the Scriptures, and also provides an outline for approaching theological controversies.

The Epitome is published in the Book of Concord (1580), and is considered a right articulation of doctrine and a correct exposition of the Holy Scriptures.

For us, the Epitome is a beautiful and surprisingly comforting unfolding of Biblical teaching. Each theological dispute is carefully and clearly outlined, and the appropriate Scriptures are brought together to witness to the truth. Only after the case has been made from the Scriptures, the testimony of the Augsburg Confession, Martin Luther, and other fathers of the church are brought in to support the teaching.

Errors are rejected with clarity. The truth is brought forth to comfort sinners with the hope of the Gospel. All the time the Formulators have their eyes and their pens pointing at Christ, preaching and teaching His person and work for us.

FREE DOWNLOAD | PRINT EDITION ($5)

Lutheran Reformation Tour Recommendations

As we arrived back from our June (2017) tour in Germany, I asked all my fellow adventurers for a review/recommendation of the trip.

I’m pleased to post them here:

(If you would like to join our trip in September, act fast! Click here for more info.)

“Simply stunning, a dream come true! Imagine following in Martin Luther’s footsteps, studying theology/worshipping with fellow Lutherans, and seeing the breath-taking sights of Germany all at the same time. It doesn’t get better than this! I haven’t even been home for 48 hours and I’m ready to pack my bags and go again!” -Krystle

“Pastor Wolfmueller puts on a great Reformation Tour! This trip is the perfect balance between theology, history, and an amazing amount of fun. Everything is Christ Centered and Bible Based. Not only will you learn things about Martin Luther that you never knew, you will be able to ask all those theological questions! Pastor Wolfmueller has a great way of explaining things so that everyone can understand. The schedule is rigorous so that you get all your money’s worth in this trip and it is so worth your time! I would highly recommend this trip!” -Allysha

“We have never been a more detailed and thoughtfully planned trip. Kudos to you, Keri, and Chuck. Thanks for a wonderful trip.” -Earl & Rita

“Understand our Christian heritage – why we are ‘Lutheran’ and what being ‘Lutheran’ means – Organized by some ‘Old Lutherans’ for Christians (Lutheran or not). Being with Pastor Wolfmueller is always interesting – and the topic at hand (Luther at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation) makes the opportunity even better. Solid christian fellowship and study during a coach tour of major Luther sites in Germany.” -Jay

“If you have the chance to go on a Reformation tour through Germany, I highly recommend Pastor Wolfmueller’s Luther/Bach Tour. You will be delighted by the sights, learn more of our Lutheran heritage, and make some of the greatest friends you’ve ever known. The tour is completely centered on Christ and it highlights the people He has used — and continues to use — to bring His Gospel to the world. You won’t be disappointed!” -Sarah

“Has American Christianity Failed?” Study Guide and Questions

Many thanks to Pr Mark Moreno for putting together this study guide of “Has American Christianity Failed?”

Has Christianity Failed_ Study Questions

Study Guide:

Has Christianity Failed?                                                               Discussion Questions

 

Chapter One – Examining the Characteristics of American Christianity

  1. Revivalism teaches that the Christian life begins with a personal decision to accept Christ (p.14). Why is this appealing? What is the danger?
  2. Pietism teaches that the Christian life is chiefly marked by growth in good works (p.15). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  3. Mysticism teaches that we can have direct, unmediated access to God (p.18). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  4. Enthusiasm teaches that the spiritual life happens inside of us (p.21). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  5. Legalism puts the Law above the Gospel by establishing requirements for salvation beyond repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (p.22). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  6. Moralism teaches that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior (p.28). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  7. The parable of the Prodigal Son has “three slaveries”: Slavery to passion and sin, slavery to despair of God’s mercy, and slavery obedience to God’s commandments (p.33). Why do we tend towards slavery instead of sonship?

 

Chapter Two – God Speaks

  1. The three attributes that American Christianity gives the Bible are inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility (p.42). Why isn’t this enough?
  2. The clarity of the Bible is something we believe in as Lutherans that many other Christians simply don’t believe. Is Scripture clear?
  3. The Bible is sufficient, it is enough for our life and our faith. Why do some argue that it isn’t? Does the Bible answer the question “what is God’s will for my life?”?
  4. We believe the Bible is efficacious, it has power and authority. If one loses sight of this truth, what happens?
  5. Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. The Bible as instruction manual is horrible. What are the shortcomings with this approach?
  6. Our doctrine IS our salvation (p.51). Reaction?
  7. Why are these two questions important when reading Scripture? 1) What is God teaching about Himself? 2) Where is the Comfort?
  8. The Bible is awesome? Why and how??

Chapter Three – How Bad a Boy Are You?

  1. American Christianity softens the Bible’s teaching on sin (p.58). How does revivalism, pietism and/or mysticism feed into that?
  2. Original sin is the sin we have through Adam. Why is that an important doctrine?
  3. Sin, death and the devil are always together. What does that mean?
  4. Our sinful nature comes first, then our sinful actions. What difference does that make?
  5. Which of the three functions of the law (curb, mirror, guide) is most compelling to you?
  6. The discussion of free will (p.66ff) if critical to our understanding of our relationship to God. Do we have free will or not?
  7. When we see Jesus on the cross, we see what we deserve (p.70). What does Jesus suffering and death say about our sin?

 

Chapter Four – The One who is Always and Only for You

  1. Much of American Christianity is focused in the Christian and not on Christ (p.73). Have you seen this? Fallen for it?
  2. The Old Testament is all about Jesus. Which of the three texts made the most profound impact on you?
  3. In Genesis 3:15, we hear a pronouncement against the devil, and his offspring sin and death. Had you heard it unpacked that way before?
  4. The OT sacrificial system points us to Jesus. What does American Christianity do with the OT in general and sacrifices in particular?
  5. The cross is our theology; our preaching and teaching centers on it. Is the cross absent in American Christianity? More than just the sanctuary?
  6. Jesus suffering and death on the cross centers on physical pain, shame and spiritual agony. Why does modern theology tend to not preach or teach on this or the wrath of God?

 

Chapter Five – Your Name: Righteous

  1. What is the Great Exchange?
  2. The Gospel is not the fact of the cross or the event of the cross. It is the word of the cross, the promise of the cross. What does this mean?
  3. Repentance is the requirement and the result of God’s Word coming to mankind. How do the parables of Luke 15 demonstrate this?
  4. The two parts of repentance include 1) contrition that affirms we are sinners deserving of God’s wrath and 2) faith. American Christianity thinks this happens once or a handful of times. Why is that so wrong?
  5. Conversion is God’s work. Why isn’t it our work, our decision?
  6. The righteousness of the Gospel belongs to Jesus but is graciously given to us. What is “passive” righteousness?
  7. What does the Office of the Keys have to do with absolution? Forgiveness?
  8. A good conscience is not a conscience without sin…A good conscience is a forgiven conscience (p.116). Did the court room analogy help this concept for you?

 

Chapter Six – Go Play Outside

  1. Why does American Christianity seem to keep the spiritual life on the “inside”? What is lost by this?
  2. The kingdom of God comes by promise and by faith, and Jesus connects this promise to water. How do you find the Spirit? Feel the Spirit?
  3. American Christianity distrusts anything that is “outside” of us. Why? What is being missed out on?
  4. Baptism is Gospel: the gift of God for the salvation of sinners. Why does American Christianity deny this truth?
  5. Infant baptism is so anathema to American Christianity. Why should infants be baptized?
  6. The Lord’s Supper IS the body and blood, it IS the bread and wine. It brings life and salvation! Why would American Christianity minimize it by saying it is just symbolic?

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seven – The How of Good Works

  1. American Christianity is confused about the how, what and the why of good works. What is the proper view of these?
  2. How is baptism the battleground of the Christian life?
  3. The four states of man’s will (and charts on p.149) is a compelling topic. Did it clear anything up?
  4. The four parts of the Christian good work includes what (p.154)? Why does that matter?
  5. All good works are completely impossible without faith. True or false? Why?
  6. Of the three danger consciences (p.158ff) which is the one you battle most?
  7. How does suffering fit into the Christian life?

 

Chapter Eight – The Gift of a Neighbor and the Beginning of Love

  1. Christian love is sacrifice, it is selfless, it is death (p.169). What is wrong with loving yourself?
  2. Scriptures locate good works first in our homes and then with the folks we live and work with (p. 172). Why is vocation essential to understanding good works?
  3. Worship is being served by Jesus (p.176). It’s about God’s work and Word, His speaking and giving. How does that challenge us? American Christianity?
  4. What’s wrong with “Relationship theology”?
  5. Piety is the way our doctrine looks when lived (p.184). Piety flows from baptism, not a decision to follow Christ. How does baptism connect to daily life?
  6. Of the three theological truths on page 187, which one stands out to you? Why?

 

Chapter Nine – Wrestling with God: Why Prayer is Suffering

  1. The Command of Prayer is an invitation. How is this comforting?
  2. The Promise of Prayer includes that He hears and answers! Have you thought that all along?
  3. Jesus teaches us what we really need in this life. What is that?
  4. The words we pray from scripture have an advantage over our “heart felt” prayers. What?
  5. Prayer is taught! What have you learned about prayer from this chapter?
  6. Prayer is warfare. Have you heard the term prayer warrior? How is that accurate?
  7. Evangelism and mission are not to be motivated by worry or anxiety. Is Hope guilty of this?

 

Chapter Ten – The End of the World as We Know It

  1. Why is American Christianity obsessed with the End Times?
  2. American Christianity tends to premillennialism which teaches Jesus will come again to establish His Kingdom on Earth. How does that reflect in other parts of their theology?
  3. Why do dispensationalists make a distinction between Israel and the Church? What danger does that pose?
  4. What is the danger of the so-called “consistent, literal interpretation”?
  5. Is history about the glory of God or the salvation of mankind?
  6. The author gave five rules to reading the Book of Revelation (p.227ff). Which of those jumps out at you?

 

Chapter Eleven –  Surprised by the Gospel

  1. The Gospel is always a surprise. Is that true? Why?
  2. Sin forgiven for you, sin destroyed for you, death swallowed up for you; how is this Gospel surprising?
  3. Jesus undoes so much with a word; how does He have that power?
  4. How is the Lutheran Church an alternative to American Christianity? What can we do to proclaim the treasure that is the Gospel?

 

+ SDG +

Rev. Dr. Mark Moreno

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