The Weekend Word

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54 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    “God saved his family – when they were on dry land it was like a new Eden”

    MLD, What do you have in mind with your analogy to Eden?

  2. Jean,
    The earth was baptized, sin (almost) literally washed away. The Noah family heirs of righteousness, a new beginning with a new promise from God.

    But then, how long before they had their own Eden incident?

  3. Em says:

    i, too, think that the flood was “universal” – it says that the fountains of the deep erupted …

    interesting, if somewhat of a rabbit trail, for so long now “scientists claim that there isn’t enough water on the planet to cover the whole earth and last week i heard that there is a “new” theory that there is quite a reservoir of water stored, i believe, beneath the earth’s mantle – or between the mantle and the crust?

  4. In my introduction I ask the purpose of these scriptures and the examples presented. I would like to say that the answer is not any that I listed.

    We are not to look at the text to see what we are to do or how we are to live or how we are to keep the law (any of it) etc. The text is provided to find what Christ has already done to keep the law for me.

    If one were to read any of these scriptures to find out how we should live, you might as well open a school to develop Pharisees.

  5. These were not people of valor or folks held up to be imitated. They were people of God and God sustained them – with all of their stumblings and weaknesses.

    The Augsburg Confession and the following Apology speak to this and give reason for why we bother to commemorate the saints. It is through God’s preservation that we are encouraged.

  6. Em says:

    yes, through God’s working, but there is one little thing that cannot be overlooked and that is that something in the folk listed that responds – as opposed to resisting or denying God

  7. Wow! that ripped the gospel right out of my lesson and comments.

  8. Em says:

    oh, MLD, did i do that? find it and put it back – sorry
    but my question remains – in my mind at least – what is that something that is in some folk that something that will respond to God, while other folk nicer and even more intelligent just can’t yield to Him?

  9. Em, you tell me – I can’t identify it but I know it is not human will or reason.

    I listened to my pastor, who I think by his office speaks for God, put out a call this morning for VBS workers. I know that they will not have 400 volunteers.

    Why some and not others?

    But to your earlier comment, once you say I have to do something – poof, away goes the gospel. (btw, the ch 11 examples are not justifying issues.)

  10. Em says:

    no, MLD, i did not say that one has to do something to be saved – what i’m pondering is, what is it in a man that responds when God calls? what is in the man that makes room, steps aside if you will, for God to work… ? this is that predestine thing, i guess – dunno

    like the song says, “I am not skilled to understand what God hath willed, what God hath planned. I only know at His right hand stands One Who is my Savior…” – there is a piece of information that i think we just aren’t privy to – hence the whole predestination debate seems to me to be a waste of time – again, dunno

  11. 2 points – I stated that the stories above in ch 11 do not concern a person’s salvation.
    2 I don’t think it is a predestination thing either – predestination is a salvation topic.

    What we are talking about above – or at least what I am trying to point out in my article and in my comments, is that if anyone expects to make a “how then should I live” statement out of these passages, they are gravely mistaken.

    As to how some respond – all Christians respond with good works. There has never been a Christian in all of history who did not produce good works – but the good works are not of their doing at all.

    Hence we are to read all of the Bible to find Jesus and to see how he has already fulfilled all the law for me already – he has already lived the God pleasing life for me already.

    This message needs to be preached in all churches every week – what Christ has done for me — NOT what I my do for Jesus or what works I must produce for him.

  12. Em says:

    sometimes the thoughts get lost in imprecise words by those of us not skilled enough… but
    your #11 retrieves your message, MLD, sufficiently … IMO … 🙂

  13. Jean says:

    It is worth remembering why these examples are here in the first place. The examples of Abel, Enoch, Noah and the other saints are held up as examples to support the author’s opening statement in this chapter:

    “Now faith [trust, commitment, belief, faithfulness] is confidence [substance, assurance, confidence] in what we hope for and assurance [conviction, proof] about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

    Faith is a gift. (1 Cor 4:7)

    Faith is also paradoxical:

    “On the one hand, faith alone is enough. When we begin to add requirements beyond simple trust, we are in trouble. How many requirements are we to add to faith? Have we
    met those requirements? Have we pleased God sufficiently? The other side of the paradox is that faith alone is not enough. Faith involves faithfulness. Faith calls for action. The author of Hebrews was anxious to see evidence that Christians have remained faithful to Christ.” Edgar McKnight & Christopher Church, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary: Hebrews-James, p. 260

  14. Well, if the faithfulness is God’s and not mine – I’m all in.
    The only action that I can think worthy is Christ hanging on the cross.

    Is my action worthy? The Pharisees thought theirs were.

  15. Jean says:

    “98. There was in [Noah] first that general faith, in common with the patriarchs, concerning the seed which was to bruise the head of the serpent. He possessed also the singular virtue of holding fast to this faith in the midst of such a multitude of offenses, and not departing from Jehovah. Then, to this general faith he added the other, special faith, that he believed God as regards both the threatened destruction of the rest of the world and the salvation promised to Noah himself and his sons. Beyond a doubt, to this faith his grandfather Methuselah and his father Lamech earnestly incited him; for it was as difficult to so believe as it was for the Virgin Mary to believe that none but herself was to be the mother of the Son of God.

    99. This faith taught him to despise the presumption of the world which derided him as a man in his dotage. This faith prompted him diligently to continue the building of the ark, a work those giants probably ridiculed as extreme folly. This faith made Noah strong to stand alone against the many evil examples of the world, and to despise most vehemently the united judgment of all others.”

    – Martin Luther, Commentary on Genesis, Vol II

  16. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Earlier in the week I introduced the notion of substituting the word Jesus each time you see the word faith.

    This will explain the source and the generator of any of my actions.

  17. Jean says:

    #16 is well and good for theologizing and glorifying God, however, paradoxically, we are not marionettes and respond to God’s call on the basis of faith. As you indicated earlier, these examples are not calls to salvation. These saints were called to specific vocations which illustrated extraordinary faith. Faith which was given them by God’s grace.

  18. So you do see these stories as Tips for Better Living?

    I disagree. 😉

  19. Bob2 says:

    I always thought Lutherans believe the Bible is inspired, including the words themselves.

    But if you can substitute “Jesus” for “faith,” what’s to stop me from rewriting pieces of Scripture where I think the word was interchangeable with other words?

  20. Jean says:

    “So you do see these stories as Tips for Better Living?”

    Yes, it’s a Purpose Driven chapter! 🙂

  21. Jean, it kind of makes you ask, “why aren’t Lutherans more pious?” 🙂

  22. Jean says:

    “Jean, it kind of makes you ask, “why aren’t Lutherans more pious?””

    As you alluded to earlier, the Apology, speaks of a threefold honor of the saints:

    “Our Confession approves honors to the saints. For here a threefold honor is to be approved. The first is thanksgiving. For we ought to give thanks to God because He has shown examples of mercy…. The second service is the strengthening of our faith; when we see the denial forgiven Peter, we also are encouraged to believe the more that grace 6] truly superabounds over sin, Rom. 5:20. The third honor is the imitation, first, of faith, then of the other virtues, which every one should imitate according to his calling.

    The Apology seems to capture very well what is going on in this week’s text. The author of our current reading is invoking these saints and telling their stories for the purpose of the 2nd and 3rd services described in the Apology.

  23. I’m going out today to build an ark.

    My point is that we can only be faithful to what we have been called to – not someone eles’s call. I cannot go out and do what Billy Graham did – I was not called and I was not empowered as such. What I do get from the Billy Graham story – just like I get from the Ch 11 people’s stories is that it is God at work, and I take comfort that God will be at work also with me.

    Jesus will call me good and faithful servant for his work in me — not mine.
    Have you heard of Mark Surburg? Do you agree that Lutherans should be more pious?

  24. Bob2 – For a guy whose tribe sees Huey helicopters in the place of the word locust, I don’t think Iwill take word study lessons from you 😉

  25. Jean says:


    If we’re going to talk about piety, we had better get our definitions straight first. Piety is basically the Latin equivalent of the English word “godliness.” Piety means “good devotion,” “proper reference,” “right respect,” for God and his goodness.

    The word “piety” has fallen out of fashion in current usage, perhaps because of the rise of pietism in the last couple centuries (remember the Puritans). So, people today talk about Christian “spirituality” in place of the word piety. But they’re basically the same thing.

    Healthy piety can be summed up as walking with God by faith throughout all aspects of life; having a God-ward orientation to life.

    God generates and maintains our faith. Through his Word, which is enacted in proclamation, absolution, Baptism, and Holy Communion, he gives us the Holy Spirit and all his gifts. In this journey everything comes to us from him through his Word; in it we all receive grace upon grace from the fullness of God. (John 1:16)

    Here’s where Lutheran piety may be different that the spirituality of other traditions: Piety’s main focus is not on how to think or feel or act religiously, but on how to live, like Paul, with a good clear conscience before God and people around us. For better or worse, the state of our conscience colors our experience of God.

    Every Christian should want to grow in piety (not pietism). I don’t think most traditions can pull this off, because of the failure to properly distinguish Law and Gospel.

    I have heard of Mark Surburg. He was asked by the moderators of CLF to cease posting OPs alledging the prevalence of what he has termed “soft-antinomianism” in contemporary Lutheran preaching.

  26. Jean says:

    In the first paragraph of my #25, “reference” should be “reverence”.

  27. Here is the skinny on trying to overlay Ch 11 as a “how to live the Christian life chapter.”

    The purpose of this communication to the Hebrews is to convince them not to go back to temple judaism – that their is nothing left back there that Jesus hasn’t fulfilled. Then he goes on to clarify for them what they were previously taught about Jesus to reenforce his claims.

    So, what advantage is there to the discussion for the writer / speaker to come back and challenge them to live like Noah, Abraham and Moses etc? Temple Judaism taught the exact same thing about these guys and that they are heroes to the Jews. My goodness, Jew teach the same even to this day.

    I spent several years from age 5 to 12 going to sabbath school and hebrew school and learned about all of these characters, who they were, their great feats and was challenged to be just like them. So, if these Hebrew Christians can get this very same thing back in their sabbath classes at the temple, why is the draw here?

    It is not the people – once again, characters and history are like the back scenery to a play – Jesus is the one who is front and center on stage – with the limelight on himself. THIS is what the writer is communicating – this is what you cannot get in temple judaism – Jesus, a God who is faithful to carry you along – not sacrifices and all the other things that these guys had to do to keep THEMSELVES going.

    That is why, at least for me, I refuse to make this passage a Christian self help book. If someone tried to keep me in the faith by saying “be holy like these guys were holy” I too would go back to Judaism — they have better food.

  28. Em says:

    what MLD and Jean accuse the “rest of us not Lutherans” is, as i understand their words, of practicing a performance oriented Christianity – using the Law to justify ourselves (some to earn salvation even) before God? to rack up a good score at the end of the game so to speak…
    while they are not correct, i assume that, what they say is out of their own experiences in the church world – so it is a worth shining a spotlight on
    there are other flaws in church society – no group of born-again folk are immune – even Lutherans 🙂

    when we cry, “God be merciful to me, i am a sinner!” we need to be sure that we’re not proud of the fact … lol

  29. Xenia says:

    Jean’s post got me poking around and I found the above link which will sound very familiar to those who have been reading MLD’s writings over the years. The author, a Lutheran minister, appears to be critical, which prompts me to ask MLD and Jean if MLD’s views are the predominant view of LCMS members?

  30. Jean says:

    You may be correct that some churches teach performance oriented Christianity for the reasons you mentioned, but what you left out, and what is much more common today, is the reason that if you perform for God, he will bless your life and/or country with material blessings right now. Remember our discussion some weeks ago about the theology of glory.

  31. Em says:

    “perform” for God and you and your nation will be blessed with material blessings? i think the root cause of that theory is that we’ve lived in unprecedented prosperity for over half a century now – the rising tide that lifted all boats? and, however much one wants to argue that we’ve never been a Christian nation, we were a nation that pivoted around the values of the Christian belief system (i was going to say ‘faith’, but that word has become a can of worms) – believer it, no matter the intellectuals’ scorn, from Hollywood to the Supreme Court of the nation standards pivoted around the Law and the Gospel of the 2 Testaments of the Christian Bible…
    as i said, MLD’s spotlighting performance oriented doctrine (and it’s promise of material reward) is worthwhile, but not as precise as it might be? – per Jean’s #30

  32. Steve Wright says:

    I don’t know what exactly constitutes “material” blessings but I think there is little argument that you will most likely have a pretty screwed up life by living contrary to God’s word and your life will be better if you live as He told us.

    At least I have found that true in my own life – and Christ saved me when I was otherwise on top of the world, materially speaking….

    Surely we are not so far down the road that to ask for God’s blessings in prayer is somehow wrong? (Assuming the caveat of “thy will be done”)

    “The Lord bless thee and keep thee” isn’t wrong to say just because of some foolish prosperity doctrine folks on the television??

  33. Steve Wright says:

    I believe that what God calls sin is sin because it is hurtful to either us or to others. I do not think he has called anything to be sin just because he is a killjoy that wants Christians to miss out on a lot of fun…..

    I guess my #32 needs to be seen in that light. If someone else believes in a killjoy God then they may have a different view, but if basic agreement with the idea of sin above then it concludes that our lives will be better the most closely we live to His commands.

  34. Em says:

    Pastor Steve, 80 years on the planet tells me, by observation – if not by faith – that you are correct

    thank you, for posting that link Xenia – food for thought there

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I’m with Steve – I vote against sin and people sinning. 😉

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think one thing is important to keep in mind. Is Hebrews 11 a chapter to keep people from sinning? Is that what the guy is trying to convey?

  37. Jean says:

    “I think there is little argument that you will most likely have a pretty screwed up life by living contrary to God’s word and your life will be better if you live as He told us.”

    Steve, I agree that there is such a thing as biblical wisdom. No doubt about it. And to ask God to keep us in his grace is totally appropriate.

    But without even going all the way to a prosperity doctrine, even subtle theologies of glory can be devastating to a Christian’s faith. Because the other side of the coin of expecting material blessings for pious living is the expectation that pious living will prevent bad things from happening.

    Then we look at the rich guy and say, he must be really godly. Look what God’s done in his life. Or, we look at the poor guy and say, he must be living a sinful life. This is why prosperity preachers thrive. People look at them and assume that their ministry is blessed by God.

    What happens when one of us experiences a setback: cheating spouse; loss of job; health problem; loss of wealth; a child gets arrested; etc.? Is that evidence that we’re living a life contrary to God’s word?

    And what happens when one of us experiences material blessings: financial success; promotion; new spouse; successful kids; etc.? Is that evidence that we’re living a godly life? Don’t these things happen to atheists too?

  38. Xenia says:

    I think the closer one walks with God in some parts of the world, the more likely one is to receive the blessing of suffering. Maybe it should be this way for all Christians.

    I will agree that expecting material blessings for being a “good Christian” is a set up for disillusion. One example comes to mind from my own life: I had a student who was the best little Christian girl you’d ever wanna meet. She was smart, too, and expected to go on to a top university and flourish. But her family circumstances changed and she could not attend university. She lost her faith. I always felt her attitude was “God, I was so good and you denied me the desires of my heart, phooey on You.”

    If you ever find yourself saying “I am doing such a good job obeying God that He is obligated to reward me” then you are missing the boat. I think we all think this from time to time, even if we know better.

  39. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My objection (or at least hesitancy) to preaching “pious” living is that some will be convinced that they have accomplished it – and voila!! we have created another Pharisee.

    Someone please give me the list to follow so I can be a pious person … but I need the whole list – not just the sin of the day.

    When Jesus says those who are his are the ones who follow his commandments must understand the commands – what were we commanded at the baptism and at the transfiguration? To listen to Jesus and Jesus always says trust in him.

    To me, a more Christ like person will flow out of the one who was taught to trust Jesus than the one who was taught the rules. An many yesterday were not taught about Jesus’ saving work for them as a Christian, but were taught the rules. And many today are out working to accomplish that list…. Sad.

  40. Jean says:

    Xenia #29,

    “The author, a Lutheran minister, appears to be critical, which prompts me to ask MLD and Jean if MLD’s views are the predominant view of LCMS members?”

    I think MLD’s views are orthodox confessional Lutheranism and are consistent with the predominant view of the LCMS. Moreover, I don’t think MLD shares the views criticized in the blog article, nor do I think the blog article itself fairly represents any sizable constituency of LCMS pastors. The blog was written by a guy who was a pastor for maybe 1-2 years at the time it was written; he is not LCMS.

    It’s not easy to describe Lutheran piety in a non-Lutheran forum because even at the basic level of terminology the definitions are often different. Because of this, I think MLD has spent more time arguing for what is not true or what Christian piety is not or what sanctification is not, than giving the readers the affirmative side of what these things are. Those can’t really be done very well in short comment sections. But, I will let him speak for himself now.

  41. Jean says:

    Talk about theologies of glory; this just showed up on my inbox:

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    yes, I too see GMAIL as a theology of glory 🙂

  43. Jean says:

    I take it the link didn’t work. It was a list of Christian living books on sale from a Logos affiliate with exciting titles promising positive life changes. Jesus the life coach stuff.

  44. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean – that is the typical Christian bookstore fare. Why people deny that a Theology of Glory predominates today’s American Christian culture is beyond me.

  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I thought I do speak in the affirmative on Lutheran Piety. All Christians do good works throughout their life.

    However, people confuse bad acts as nullifying good works. Good works are produced in us by Jesus and we cannot stop them … or Jesus as the Vine becomes a failure.

    A separate entity is bad acts. An example. I can fully be an obedient Christian and feed the poor. I can even run the largest benevolent Christian organization and carry out the great commission just as I am commanded … and at the same time I can sin in woeful and awful ways.

    Hmmm, I may have described my own daily life. 😉

  46. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Just to follow up, I know many here went to church yesterday to receive more information, take notes and sing songs of praises.

    I went to church to confess my sin, hear the absolution and have the body and blood poured down my throat for that forgiveness of sin. Why??? because I recognize that I am the man in my previous post.

    Others I guess have this pious christian lifestyle figured out – but no amount of law preaching is going to change me … I need more gospel each week.

  47. Steve Wright says:

    Just as I qualified my blessing comment with the need to have in heart “thy will be done” so likewise having that understanding there are no guarantees in a fallen world is just basic theology.

    There is a blessing in suffering, yes, however every and I mean every person in the Bible that we read about who is unjustly sent to prison has a heart’s desire to get out of prison as soon as possible. And to take advantage of God’s deliverance when it arrived. Whether Old or New Testament examples.

    Do we think the Proverbs have any value today? I sure do. Especially for teenagers and young adults to read and live out.

  48. Jean says:

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

    I’m waiting for the Christian living book (other than the Bible) that teaches Christians how to be poor in spirit.

  49. Steve Wright says:

    I should add Proverbs are for all, but my point about younger people is they are the ones becoming independent and making their own choices (and reaping the consequences) for the first time.

    People speak about “life lessons” but a lot of life lessons are already there in the Bible and do not need to be learned a second time with all the wreckage to ourselves or others…

  50. Josh the Baptist says:

    I have often said, even if you didn’t buy into the supernatural stuff, the biblical way is the very best way to live life on this earth.

  51. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    But Proverbs are not uniquely “christian’ – so I don’t know if I would include them in the Christian Living section. 😉 A pious life is not uniquely Christian.

    I was watching a video about Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens). He lives a much more pious life than I do – and he is bound for hell.

  52. Jean says:

    “I should add Proverbs are for all, but my point about younger people is they are the ones becoming independent and making their own choices (and reaping the consequences) for the first time.”

    I don’t know if this will overly complicate the discussion, but keeping in mind that God’s Law has 3 functions, the first function being to maintain order and restrain evil in his temporal kingdom, there is such a thing as “civil righteousness,” not to be confused with righteousness before God.

    In the realm of the civil law, a person, whether Christian, atheist, Muslim or Jew, can be righteous. In other words, he/she can obey our local and federal civil and criminal laws. While not exclusive, a lot of the proverbs address the wisdom of being civilly righteous. And why not, God’s Law, both revealed and natural, are not in conflict with one another, and both reflect his character and will.

  53. Steve Wright says:

    Proverbs warns young men about having sex with a willing married woman whose husband is out of town.

    That is the sort of thing that most young men would not hesitate to do….

    It is also the sort of thing that one only sees as “wrong” if one starts with the Biblical worldview. And in fact, many people do not see it as wrong at all – open marriage sorts.

    Many similar examples could be given. But we are back to my point which is it is not somehow wrong to seek blessings from God for keeping His commands….

  54. Steve Wright says:

    I think there is no connection to whatever our civil laws might be at the moment, as they change constantly anyways, and God’s righteousness therefore I do not think a term like “civil righteousness” applies. A good citizen keeps the laws, sure, but righteousness is besides the point.

    Remember the end of The Untouchables? They ask Ness what he thinks about repealing prohibition, and he says, “I think I will have a drink”….man’s laws changed, and the man changed his behavior with the law. Did his righteousness change in either direction when he never had a drink and then when he did just because of the temporal “legality” of it all? I don’t think so.

    As an aside, this is the argument some in the church are putting forth in support of gay marriage. Opposition is forcing people to fornicate rather than marry and satisfy their sexual acts through the bonds of marriage…they can become righteous if man’s law would just change…

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