Ever Wanted to Ask a Lutheran Some Questions? Now’s Your Chance.

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Daniel Landin

Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce you all to Daniel Landin. He is a Pastor of a Lutheran Church. I’ve asked him to participate in some question and answer format interactions for the purpose of learning more about each other’s respective Churches, and theological positions, as well as for his insight into some particularly Lutheran things. Feel free to send me your questions.  I will select a some to ask Daniel in a future article.  Before we get started, Daniel could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Q. Where did you grow up?

A. I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up on a small family farm in the awesome little town of Sugar Grove, PA, right on the NY-PA border.

Q. Were you raised in a Christian home?

A. Yes. God has blessed me beyond belief to have been born into a family with a rich Christian heritage. My family on my father’s side immigrated from Sweden in the 1870s and brought with them their huge family Bible which resides in my parents’ dining room to this day. Faith in Jesus Christ has played a huge role in my family’s life and continues to do so.

Q. Could you share your testimony with us?

A. I truly cannot remember a time when I did not have faith in and a love for Jesus Christ. As I stated in the previous answer, I was born into a Christian home and was blessed to be raised by two loving Christian parents. I did pray many various “prayers of salvation” during my childhood and adolescent years, so I won’t pinpoint a specific day of conversion on any of those. I believe that I have had faith in Christ from before the time that I have any memories of something different.

I’ve always had a strong interest in the Bible and learning more and more about who God is and how God has interacted with people from the very beginning. My grandfather and great uncle were both the same way and loved discussing various doctrines, theologies, and passages from scripture and I would try my best to interject and converse with them, even when I was around eight or nine years old. I’ve also always had a strong interest in history, so that interest coupled with a love for Christ and the Bible drew me into many times of deep study. My love for Christ and his Word led me to get my college degree in biblical studies and I was blessed to also be able to go through seminary as well.

I did go through a rough time during high school meeting many crises of faith including the death of my grandmother from lung cancer and my own fall into sexual sin with my girlfriend at the time. I dealt with some serious depression because of all the negatives from that year and because I bought into Satan’s lie that, since I had fallen into that specific sin, I had ruined all chances of ever being married to a Godly Christian woman. Due to my depression, which I hid from everyone I knew, I contemplated suicide many times until the day I held a revolver in my hand. By the grace of God, I felt a rush of God’s love at that moment and, whether it was audible or only in my spirit, I heard God saying, “Stop! I love you. You have so much more to live for. Trust in me!” From that point on, I thank God for not only saving me from death and hell, but also saving my life at that point.

There have been many people who have been influential in my life and in my walk of faith. Most important over the past thirteen years has been my wife Stephanie. Her own faith and her love and encouragement have had a large impact on me. A large part of that was experienced the day I confessed my past transgressions and she immediately said, “I forgive you, because Jesus has already forgiven you!” That was an amazing moment for the two of us, but especially for me to experience the love of Christ through her selfless forgiveness. It has been a special thing to live this life of faith with her.

Q. How did you meet your Wife?

A. We met in high school choir of all places! I was a senior and she was a sophomore. We started dating that year and maintained a long-distance relationship during the next three years while she finished high school and did a year of community college before joining me at Roberts Wesleyan College.

Q. How long have you been married?

A. We got married the summer after I graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College in 2009 and we just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this week on August 1st. We have been blessed with three boys aged 4, 2, and 1 and we have a fourth waiting for us in heaven.

Q. What changes have you undergone in your faith since your conversion?

A. Quite a few I would say! I grew up in the Evangelical Covenant Church, the denomination my family has been a part of for over a hundred years. One of the main emphases of that denomination is on the supremacy of scripture. We were taught that the Bible is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct and to ask the question, “Where is it written?” while working through various issues in life and faith. I went to a Free Methodist college and met people from many different faith traditions and that opened up my view of the church quite a bit. There were many issues I saw as closed issues, but as I read and studied throughout my college and seminary years, I have shifted on some theological issues which now separate me from the church of my childhood and youth. Some of the issues, without delving into the changes at the moment, were on creation, the sacraments, and eschatology. One thing that has never changed, though, is my dependence on Jesus Christ in all things. I’ve clung to Proverbs 3:5-6 from that depressing phase of life in high school even up to this day. My hope is in Jesus Christ!

Q. How long have you been a Pastor?

A. I have been a pastor now for over five years. My first call into pastoral ministry was in the United Methodist Church. I served there for just a few days short of three and a half years and now serve in a Lutheran Church. Looking back on my life and my journey of becoming a pastor, I can say that I would have never chosen the path that God has led me on. I knew that God was calling me to be a pastor from a very young age and had plans to be a pastor in the denomination that I grew up in, but that was not what God had planned for me. I am thankful to be where I am and to know that it is right where the Holy Spirit desires for me to be!

Q. How long have you been a Lutheran Pastor?

A. I have been a Lutheran Pastor for a year and seven months so far!

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Eastern Orthodox Church and the Gospel?

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I was looking for a Youtube video of an Eastern Orthodox Father explaining the gospel when I found the one below.  After watching it, I’m not sure they know what the gospel is.  Was it just me, or was his explanation convoluted and imprecise?  After listening to it, I’m more unsure of what they believe than when I began.  It seems to be the normative for the EOC.  It is almost like they purposely leave things unclear.  It is like buying a car from a used car salesman in a fancy outfit who says, “Come on, trust me.  I’m looking out for you.” but then he won’t let you look under the hood, or even open the car door before you buy, and when you ask him what size engine it has, he just assures you that it is wayyy better than your other car, because it is the oldest car around.

The gospel is fairly simple to explain as a Protestant.  That is because we hold the Bible, God’s Word, as our authority for our faith.  Ya know why? Because it is God’s Word…  Here it is in a nutshell, we are sinners. God is perfectly righteous. We can’t be good enough to make up for our sins. Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune God, took on human flesh, was born of the virgin Marry, lived a perfect sinless life, and was righteous. He was truly God, and truly man. He went to the cross, had the wrath of God poured out on Him that we had coming to us, and paid for our sins.  This justified us to God.  If we repent of our sins, turn from them and turn to Christ, trust in His work on the cross where He atoned for us, and believe only in Him and His work for our salvation, God considers us as righteous as Jesus.  His righteousness is imputed to us once we repent and believe.  After that moment, we are saved, and can never be lost again.  From that point on, God will conform us to His Son’s likeness, in the sense that we will begin to hate our sin, and love God and His will more.  We will submit to Him more.  We will grow in the knowledge of our own personal sins, as well as grow in holiness.  OK so maybe I didn’t make it as simple as, “Repent of your sins, believe in Christ, then you are saved.”  I could have, because in a sense, it is that simple.

The EOC explanation of the difference between the EOC and Protestants gospel was kind of useless to me.  I don’t know how it could be good news to anyone.  It almost sounded like the guy was trying to say they believe you can be dead and get saved.  If that is true, then the Bible is a lie.  If the Bible, being God’s Word is a lie, then it isn’t God’s Word.  I trust the Bible and not the EOC’s man made traditions.

Some Roman Catholics Didn’t Like My Article, “Call No Man Father” So Here Ya Go Ya Heretics!

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I wrote an article about the Eastern Orthodox Church’s unbiblical practice of calling their preaching elders, “Father.” After posting that article to social media, a Roman Catholic responded. He did not identify himself as Roman Catholic until I directly asked him. The article was posted to a group that was for Protestant fans of a particular television ministry, radio ministry, and podcast ministry. He obviously had a problem with my article, but all of the comments he posted only demonstrated their adherence to the same unbiblical practice. He cited many extra-biblical sources from the early Church where men were referred to as, “Father.” This was supposed to add authority to his argument, but in reality it reinforced my assertion. It was sad that he couldn’t see this or understand it. Everything was filtered through his Roman Catholic lenses. If he had read and understood the article, he would have noticed the distinctions I had illustrated. The very type of hypocritical oppression inflicted by men elevated by titular role over the rest of the body is the exact thing that was being warned against. It isn’t calling someone; “Father” like Paul did in reference to himself and Timothy as his son in the faith. It wasn’t calling some early Christians, “Early Church Fathers.”

To illustrate what it is, we will look at what a Roman Catholic Father’s duties are in the Roman Catholic Church. (Apostate roman church) First, let us consider the Mass. What does the Father do in the Mass? Here is a quote from the Catholic Education Resource Center’s website about the Mass.

1“The Holy Mass is the holiest thing we have here on earth. Why? Because it is the action of Christ. The main thing in the Mass is not what is read from the Holy Scriptures, even though this is the word of God and should be listened to as such. The main thing in the Mass is not what the priest preaches in his sermon nor what the people do or sing. The main thing is what Christ does. And what does Christ do in the Holy Mass? He offers himself for us, as he offered himself on the Cross. He sacrifices himself for us. That is why we say that the Mass is the same Sacrifice as that of the Cross renewed in an unbloody manner on the altar. On the altar just on the Cross, Christ offers his body and blood for us. The difference is that on the Cross his body and blood were visible to the eyes of those who were present, while in the Mass they are hidden under the appearances of bread and wine. But they are really present. This is the great fact. In each Mass, Christ is really present and renews the Sacrifice of the Cross.”

As you can see, Roman Catholics are to believe that Christ is recrucified every Mass, and they must attend, partake, and believe in this sacrament to experience the grace of God again. They believe that the blood and body are truly present as the bread and wine of the Eucharist. The Priest a.k.a. Father administers the Mass as well as under his issuance transubstantiation of the elements occurs. Here is what their Catechism says about the Priest’s role.

2“Online Edition – May 2006

Vol. XII, No. 3

Catechism — On the Priest’s Role at Mass

875 “How are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?” No one — no individual and no community — can proclaim the Gospel to himself: “Faith comes from what is heard.” No one can give himself the mandate and the mission to proclaim the Gospel. The one sent by the Lord does not speak and act on his own authority, but by virtue of Christ’s authority; not as a member of the community, but speaking to it in the name of Christ. No one can bestow grace on himself; it must be given and offered. This fact presupposes ministers of grace, authorized and empowered by Christ. From Him, bishops and priests receive the mission and faculty (“the sacred power”) to act in persona Christi Capitis; deacons receive the strength to serve the people of God in the diaconia of the liturgy, word and charity, in communion with the bishop and his presbyterate. The ministry in which Christ’s emissaries do and give by God’s grace what they cannot do and give by their own powers, is called a “sacrament” by the Church’s tradition. Indeed, the ministry of the Church is conferred by a special sacrament.”

You can see from their documentation that grace is a substance issued by their Priests, during the Mass where the also engage in the Eucharist. The Father is not part of the body. He holds a special position and title. Without him, the grace from Christ’s recrucifixion could not be given to the body. Without him, the bread and wine would not become Christ’s body and blood, and could not be issued to the people of the body. Do you see how this is exactly the type of unbiblical, hypocritical, works righteous, oppressive, authority that was warned about in Matthew 23:1-12 as I explained in yesterday’s article.

For anyone who doubts what I said about the Mass here is another quote from CERC,

3“The holy Eucharist is the “mystery of faith.” Without faith, all you would see is bread and wine being offered, no more. Without faith, the most you could see in this is a gesture, a symbol, nothing more. With faith you know that at the moment of the Consecration which is when the priest says, “This is my body,” “This is the cup of my blood” the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ who is then really present as God and as Man sacrificing himself for us on the altar as he sacrificed himself on the cross. If you come to Mass without faith, or with little faith you will easily get distracted and perhaps even bored. What a sad thing to get bored with Christ’s sacrifice! Would we have been bored if we had been present at Calvary? If we hadn’t faith, perhaps we would. Or at least we would have completely failed to understand what the death of that Man nailed to the cross really meant. You will only begin to understand the greatness of the Mass if you have faith. Stir up your faith. And then you will always be amazed at the Mass, you will realize that it is the greatest thing we possess here on earth.”

As you can see the Priest is a necessary component in the Mass. Only when he raises the elements and proclaims them to be Christ’s actual body and blood, do they become His body and blood. Also, notice how you have to stir up your faith, you have to believe it to see it, otherwise, “…Without faith, the most you could see in this is a gesture, a symbol, nothing more…” So while most of the Protestant world takes communion in remembrance of Christ and His crucifixion, the RCC does not. While we believe in the imputation of Christ’s righteousness by faith and grace that are from God, they do not. Don’t be deceived, Roman Catholicism is not in the least Christian. It is an apostate misplaced worldly faith with man made traditions that are in authority over scripture. Scripture is done violence by and subjugated by man made tradition and doctrines of the devil.

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The RCC’s doctrine of the Mass says that one of the four purposes of the Mass is to, “…to make up for the sins of men…” According to CERC as a baptized member of the RCC you are supposed to make up for the sins of men. Doesn’t that sound satanic to you? Who justifies us to God? It is Christ our Lord, not us! Who suffered for our sins? Jesus, not us! Read it for yourself,

The purposes of the Mass

What else should you do, besides having a lot of faith, if you want to attend Holy Mass well? You should identify yourself with Christ. You should remember the Scriptures and have “the same mind” “that he had on the cross (cf. Phil 2:5). The same mind which means the same purposes. What purposes did Jesus have on the cross? What was he concerned about? We can sum up his ends or purposes as four: to give glory to God the Father; to thank him; to make up for the sins of men; and to ask him for graces for us. If each time you go to Mass, you try to live at least one of these four purposes, you will attend Holy Mass well.”

The third purpose: to make up for our sins

Jesus is perfect God and perfect Man. He is all-holy. Therefore he has not and could not have been guilty of any sin. But, as the Holy Scriptures says, he took our sins on himself and made up for them. He did penance for us by dying on the cross. If we want to take part properly in the Holy Mass, we must be sorry for our sins. The person who is not sorry for his sins will never understand or love the Mass, nor will he ever really take part in it. But the person who comes to Mass with real sorrow for his sins, will draw from it great strength to fight against temptations and to realize that, despite his weaknesses, God loves him very much.

The penitential act the “I confess” that we all say together at the start of the Mass does not pardon mortal sins. Forgiveness of mortal sins has to be obtained in the sacrament of penance. It is also important to remember that a person who has committed a mortal sin cannot go to communion unless he goes to confession beforehand. But the penitential act, if it is said well, certainly helps to obtain pardon for present venial sins as well as to stir up new sorrow for past sins that have already been forgiven. In this way it helps us to purify ourselves and so to take better part in the Holy Mass.”

As you can see, there is nothing Christian about the Roman Catholic Mass.  It is man made tradition.  In other words doctrines of the devil.  The Father’s role in the Mass is no less satanic.  The Reformers were right to leave this apostate Babylonian whore.

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Here is Dr. James White’s presentation at the 2017 G3 conference.  His presentation was about Roman Catholicism.

1, 3http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/the-mass-explained.html

2https://adoremus.org/2006/05/15/Catechism-On-the-Priests-Role-at-Mass/

Rob Bell, a Picture of a Heretical, New Age, Emergent Movement Guru.

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If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody.” Rob Bell

This quote was presented to me without context as a standalone statement. First I will address it as is. Then I will address it in context to the entire quote.

As a direct answer to this ludicrous assertion I will simply reference the mind of God revealed in His Word.

“ 18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

19For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NASB)

To the person who is a friend of the world, the gospel is foolish, and they are enemies of God.


1What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:1-10 (NASB)

Only the people being saved will appreciate the gospel. Everyone else will hate it to varying degrees. Some will seem indifferent to it, while others hate for it will be evident. If two people are looking at Christ and His gospel, and one has a new nature that desires the things of God and hates sin, and the other person is not regenerate, they are still in the world, and their fleshly passions still rule them, the first one will see Christ and His gospel as exceedingly good news to be desired above all things. He will be like the man who sells all he owns to purchase the field with the precious pearl in it. The other man will think the first is a fool, and mock him. He will spend his life a slave to his own pleasures.

Now I will address the quote in context. I had to look it up, as I do not read Rob Bell’s works as he is a heretic and outside of orthodoxy. It was from his book, “Velvet Elvis.”

If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody. And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the “un” and “non”, they work against Jesus’ teachings about how we are to treat each other. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody. We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God. Everybody matters. To treat people differently based on who believes what is to fail to respect the image of God in everyone. As the book of James says, “God shows no favoritism.” So we don’t either.” Rob Bell

Bell is attempting to relate his opening statement to a homogenous group called, “the church.” He tries to relate the two by claiming that, “the church” is wrong for, “trying to convert people and convince them to join.” He claims that instead, “It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display.”

Bell does not define what, “the church” is. His opening statement is not supported by the following sentences of the paragraph. As I demonstrated above, the Bible is clear about whom the gospel is good news to. It cannot be good news to those who are ultimately to perish outside of Christ. They will reject it, and continue on in rebellion to God. Using this statement to start his paragraph was not proper. I understand what he was attempting to say in his inaccurate use of language. First, let’s assume that when he references, “the church” that he means all of the people, past, present, and future, from all nations, and tribes, from all over the planet, who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, being brought to new life, who see how detestable their sins are, and are humbled by them in contrast to the holiness and righteousness of God, and have repented of their sins, and put their trust and faith in God incarnate, their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered the penalty of their sins on the cross of His crucifixion, paying for them completely, dying, being buried, and resurrected on the third day, conquering death and sin on behalf of His elect. He would have been more accurate to say, “The Church should demonstrate the grace, and sacrificial love of Christ to the lost world, in their words, and deeds, motivated by their new natures, and renewed minds, by the will of God the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through them.”

Words have meanings, and the imprecise language of Rob Bell and his ilk causes much misunderstanding and confusion. If he desires to be understood properly he should be more precise.

Another statement was presented along with the first, by the individual who presented the statement to me. They wrote, “Blessed are those who are more right than others.” Said Jesus never.”

First, this statement implies that the Jesus of this statement doesn’t care about being doctrinally accurate. It also implies that to be concerned with doctrinal accuracy is to be equated with un-Christ-like attitudes.

We know from reading the progressive revelation of scripture, which is the mind of the incarnate and eternal Word, who being God Himself, in the second person of the Trinity, revealed His will for us, and to us, in the scriptures, has explained true doctrines and refuted false ones, as well as condemned those who taught false doctrines as teachers of the devil’s doctrines. He called them, children of their father the devil.

43“Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45“But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46“Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47“He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” John 8:43-47 (NASB)

Jesus is the true and living way, and as we can see from what he said in John 8, He is definitely concerned with true doctrine about Him. If someone says they know Jesus, I would ask them questions about Jesus to see if we are talking about the same Jesus. What I know about my Savior is very important. It is the difference of knowing the true Jesus as He has expressed Himself in scripture, and knowing a cheap counterfeit that cannot save anyone. While it is true Jesus never specifically said the above quote, it is also true that contrary to the intent of the quote Jesus did always teach the truth, and require it of His followers. Don’t be fooled by slick sayings. As God said,

4I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. 5For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.

6Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

      8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Colossians 2:4-8 (NASB)

Call No Man Father, and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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In the Easter Orthodox Church’s pamphlet titled, “Call No Man Father” written by Fr.(Father) J. Richard Ballew, and published by Conciliar Press, the author presents a straw man argument to easily dispute. He claims that Protestants believe that we don’t call anyone Father because we don’t think any man should be recognized as our, “spiritual father.” Here is what he wrote …“They, of course, are interpreting “father” in this Scripture to mean, “spiritual father.” Therefore, they refuse to call their clergymen “father,” preferring instead such titles as “pastor,” “reverend,” or perhaps even “brother.”…

He misrepresented our position either unintentionally erring, or intentionally lying. I don’t know, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he simply erred. Protestants don’t call their preaching elders, “Father” because we don’t have an authoritative titular role for leaders, or teachers in the Church. This is what is being condemned in Matthew 23:8-10. This is explained by the context of what Christ had said. Matthew 23:1-12, (NASB)

1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. 5“But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6“They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11“But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

As you can plainly see from the context provided, Jesus is explaining how the Pharisees had wrongly taken for themselves titles and positions of authority, while sinfully using them to hypocritically burden everyone else with rules. Jesus was instructing His followers to not recognize men like the Pharisees of the Jews as their authority, but instead to recognize God as the authority. Within the Church there are no authorities other than what God has revealed in His word. We don’t hold traditions of having a man called a Father as the head of our local Church body.

The Eastern Orthodox has conflated their preaching elders (πρεσβύτερος presbuteros) with a position of authority. They say they are calling the preaching elder of a church, “father” as a term of affection, but in practice it isn’t that way. Their practice demonstrates that they are doing that which Christ in scripture forbids. On the other hand, Protestants do have all kinds of elders in our body. We have men who preach, teach, evangelize, and administrate to name a few. There is not one that is more important than the other. We can even have more than one preaching elder in any one given local Church. Some teach and preach, others serve by administrating church affairs. 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 (NASB)

24whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

We also recognize that sometimes men are thought of as someone’s father in the faith, as a man who was their personal friend and helper. Paul is mentioned as being Timothy’s father in that sense. Timothy learned from Paul. In a sense he could be considered his spiritual father, not in a mystical way, but simply in the role of a mentor in the faith, the man who preached and taught the gospel of Christ to you. 1 Timothy 1:2 (NASB)

2To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The other types of elders are all under the same conditions. None of them are to be regarded as holding a position of authority over us in the same fashion the Pharisees did over the Jews.

Then Ballew goes into a self-refuting argument about traditions of the Rabbis and how they added their own ideas to them, of course the Eastern Orthodox aren’t guilty of that lol. I would find it quite laughable if it weren’t so sad to see so many people locked into a works righteousness religion akin to Roman Catholicism.

He did get some things right. In regards to the Rabbis exalting themselves and abusing their authority, he rightly condemns that and agrees with Christ.

In the end he uses the word father instead of elder. He still affirms in practice the wrong use of the word and has attributed it to a position of authority that is not warranted by scripture.  The bottom line is the same as my last article on the Eastern Orthodox Church.  They have a low view of scripture and a misplaced submission to their traditions.

A Snyder’s Soapbox Review of, “When my Ox Gores my Neighbor: Using Hermeneutics to Travel from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion” by Josiah Nichols.

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I was contacted by a mutual friend to do this review. Up until that point I had not heard of Josiah Nichols. This would be the first work that I have read of his. It might also be his first published work. It isn’t a long book, nor is it a book that requires a seminary education to read. The author’s purpose is to demonstrate how he employs hermeneutics to interpret, and derive applications from Exodus 21:28-32. The book is very evangelistic. I would say that it has been far more evangelistic than many theological books that I’ve recently read.

From reading the title, and the author’s intended goal treating the topic of hermeneutics, I expected a more in depth primer on hermeneutics, and a demonstration of the analytical methods of hermeneutics on the cited verses. While the author accomplished this goal, I think occasionally the author also got a little lost in some peripheral details.

It is also evident that the author is a big fan of Wretched Radio/TV and their work. Todd Friel is the host of the programs as well as the podcast. The people over there at Wretched have put out a number of very useful videos, and educational products. Josiah refers to, “Hermen Who?” numerous times throughout the book. Wretched should thank him for the plug 🙂 I liked both the book, and Wretched. I am a big fan of their work to, so I share that with the author.

The questions I consider for book purchases are, is it theologically accurate, and will it add value to the individual’s Christian library? That’s it. That’s how simple it is for me to decide, “yes” or “no” for a book. The answer to the first question is, yes this book is good and accurate if you are Reformed in your soteriology. If you are not, it is still accurate, and you are the one with the problem lol.  As far as value goes, it does add value to your library as a resource to loan out. This book is evangelistic. I would feel good handing this to someone who is new in the faith. It will teach them a bit about hermeneutics, and much more about other doctrines of God.

After reading it, I am still hard pressed to categorize this book, or write a more fitting title. The author does analyze Exodus 21:28-32. He does so accurately. He did not twist the scripture, or impose a meaning on it that was not intended by the author of scripture. It would be educational for a new Christian. I believe that was his intended audience. I look forward to seeing Josiah’s future projects. I think we will see bigger and better works from him. He was precise and nuanced without being rhetorical. Some theological books for laymen seem as if the authors had forgotten who their audience was. If Josiah reads this, “Keep up the good work.” You can pick up a copy of his book at Amazon, Christianbook, or Westbow to name a few. It can be purchased from many other online book retail sites.

ISBN-13: 978-1512782530

Have you ever felt like you are not an adult, like you are just pretending…

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Have you ever felt like you are not an adult, like you are just pretending to be your idea of what an adult is? Do you wonder if the others are going to see through your facade and know that you are just playing at being an adult? My standard of what a man should be has always been my Father. He has been dead for about 4 years now. I know he would tell me he is proud of me, and that I’ve become the man he hoped I would be. He never showed us any doubt. He was always so outwardly confident, or perhaps that is the way it seemed to a child’s perception. I know he did have doubts and fears. I know he confided in his Wife. I have done the same thing. I wonder though, if the strength he portrayed to us wasn’t there, what kind of man would I be? Because of my Father, I can safely say, I am a more godly man than I would have been without Him. Because of His example, I took several, I mean several leaps of faith to do what I thought would have been the right thing, the thing Dad would have done, or been proud of. Ladies, this can apply to you and your godly mothers as well. I know my Dad wasn’t perfect, and he made mistakes that he privately regretted, but he was as good a Father to me and my Brother as he could have been. Now that Dad is gone, I don’t feel alone, or on shaky ground. Why? Because I’ve got another Father. A perfect Father who is not flawed. I have a Father who gave me and my Brother, and our Mother, the perfect man to accomplish His will in our lives. Dad might not have been the adult that we saw with our little eyes, and thought of with our childish minds, but he was the man that God used to bring us to Him. Dad was strong and compassionate, he was hard and thoughtful, he was self-sacrificing and forgiving. It was so much easier for me to see the character of Christ in a man most people would have called marginally Christian, than in many who put on a good show of being an adult. God the Father, in His perfect knowledge and sovereignty, “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Because of who God the Father is, I had the human Father He wanted for me. He used my Dad to lead one of His elect to Him. I was so lost as a young man. I loved myself more than anything or anyone else. I loved my own pleasures, and hated those who would deny me. Now because of the memories of my Father, and the testimony of the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit, I am a partaker in God’s grace. I have been adopted by the true Father of all who are born again. I and my Dad, are brother’s in Christ. I hope to see him again in eternity, and worship the Lord Jesus, with him as well. I hope and pray that my Brother, and his family, my oldest Step-Son, my present, and future Grandchildren, and all of you will be with us to, as brothers and sister, unified in love, and the love of Christ Jesus. We all have doubts and fears in life. We are uncertain at times, but look to God, fix your eyes on Jesus, and what He did for you in His life, crucifixion, and resurrection. There is one God, and only one way of salvation, it is Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins, and believe. He will grant you new life and make you a new person, just like He did for me. I’m not always assured and confident in my position, but I am so confident and sure of God, and because He is good, I know that whatever I go through in life is for my sanctification. It is to shape me into the the adult man, that He wants me to be. I hope that when I am dead, the people whom God has given me to be with will be able to say the same about me that I have said about my Father.

PETA, Abortion, and Imago Dei.

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I am troubled by the unfettered, unrestrained, sentimentality, and emotionalism, being celebrated on modern television over animals, and their rescue. I don’t want to seem cold, or cruel, but this is beyond what should be morally, and ethically permitted in light of human poverty, abuse, and suffering, around our country. We’ve aborted approximately 70,000,000 babies since the not-so-Supreme Court invented a woman’s right to murder her, and the father’s child. Think about that number. Seventy million human children murdered in the womb, and everyone gets hysterical over the mistreatment of a puppy.

Many of you are familiar with PETA (the idolatrous animal rights terrorist group.) and their mantra of, “A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy.” This insanity has come from the void left by removing Christ, and Christian education from our country. It has allowed for this idolatrous transference of worship. Instead of worshiping God, they worship the creation. Christian teaching informs us to the intrinsic value of human life above all other life on the planet. For unlike the creatures of this world, God in His sovereign will, made man in His image, and made him a little lower than the angels. Man is the only being that God created who has a spirit. We are definitely not to be equated to a dog or any other animals. Only a godless heathen would equate human life to that of another animal. Anyone who is Christian cannot do so in a way that is consistent with scripture.

I believe that the media makes it a point to distract us with these programs. The leftists in the media forward, and champion any cause that serves to denigrate God’s precepts. These programs are used to program the minds of the children, and twist the minds of those who are weak enough for them to be influenced. There is a large number of people who have become numb to human suffering, who will clamor for your incarceration, or outright execution if you are guilty of eating meat. If they were informed by the Christian faith, they would know Genesis 9:1-7,

“1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. 3 “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. 4 “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.

6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood,

By man his blood shall be shed,

For in the image of God

He made man.

7 “As for you, be fruitful and multiply;

Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.””

You see, it is evident in the word of God that we are to eat the other animals as food. He has given them to us as food just as He has given us the plants to eat. He has also elevated man above the other animals by saying in verse 6, ““Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.” Do you see it? We are made in His image. Do you see that the murder of a man requires the execution of the murderer? It is a sin against God to steel a man’s life by killing him unjustly. The person who murders makes themselves out to be god. Not only are they guilty of murder, they are guilty of theft, idolatry, blasphemy, and hatred. By destroying an image bearer of God they have blasphemed. None of this is true of anyone who kills an animal. God has given us dominion over them, to use as He intends.

If you don’t believe me about how horrible this godless doctrine is, let’s examine the ethic in practice with a theoretical situation. For instance, a rat, pig, dog, and a boy, are all in a river about to drown. The rat is closest to the bank, and it is more likely that you would be able to successfully rescue it. The boy is the furthest out, and least likely to survive. The pig and the dog are between the rat, and the boy. According to the ethic, you should attempt to save the rat, because they are all equal in value to the atheist. To do anything else would be immoral according to their belief. I think most of you would agree, seeing a young child drowning and saving a rat is immoral. Whether you know it or not, you have been raised with a Christian ethic. That isn’t so for many of our children. They are being raised in a postmodern, secular, atheistic, world. Unless you can, in the limited time you have with them, negate the 8 hours a day the school spends with them, they are not going to share your morals.

You see, without God and His word as the foundation of our worldview, we will lose our collective minds and become a society in decay. The foundation of our freedom and prosperity has been faithful obedience to God and His gospel. As a nation, we were founded on the ideals exampled by Christianity. Without the example of divine grace, and the laws that made grace so sweet, we will necessarily vote for increasingly immoral things. Without moral absolutes determined by the immutable God, we will continue to abort babies. We will also begin to euthanize the ill and elderly. Pragmatism will override the fact that we are made in the image of God. When your medical system is based on pragmatically cutting costs and saving money, instead of attempting to cure illnesses, and heal people, the end result is murder by bureaucracy. I pray Lord that we will repent, and always value human life above that of mere animals. I pray Lord that you will give every person in this nation and around the world the knowledge that abortion and euthanasia are morally wrong.

What Does James Teach us About the Tongue?

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It should be evident through our human experience that what we say in passionate discourse, driven by our jealousies and self ambitions, is sinfully disordered. (James 3:13-18)  We can say, scream, or spitefully whisper, things that should not be said.  These things can destroy relationships, ruin opportunities, and discredit our witness.  The enemy is the father of lies.  When we allow our tongue to run unfettered it does the work of the devil.

Let’s take a look at what God says about the tongue in the book of James.  He says that it is, “tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity”  In this context, fire is destructive.  It destroys and consumes everything it touches.  It defiles the entire body.  It sets the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.  Wow, and ouch!  It sets the course for our life?  Yep, by the sinful, undisciplined, words that come out of your heart and mouth, your entire life’s course is changed.  Look at how many public figures careers have been ruined by something they said, or how many Evangelist who were caught by an open mic saying something unbecoming.  It is set on fire by hell.  That paints a very scary picture in my mind.  It is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.  How many times have you poisoned someone by saying words out of a selfish position?  How much hurt have you caused to those you love by expressing your sinful heart’s passion recklessly?  I know I am guilty of of it for sure.  I look back and regret the hurt and injury I inflicted with my words.

Like Jesus said, “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” (NASB) Matthew 15:17-20”

With it we curse men who are made in the image of God.  This indicates our elevation of ourselves.  It demonstrates how we see ourselves better than other men, more entitled, and deserving.  What did Paul say, “ It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” (NASB) 1 Timothy 1:15

James quotes the psalmist when he says, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (NASB) James 4:6  So what instruction can we receive from the scripture?  Are we hopeless to control our tongues?  The scriptures are clear that we can have our sinful natures changed by the work of God.  Christ’s work justifies us, and the Holy Spirit brings us to new life.  As the new man learns and grows, he can, and will have more success battling against the destructive self-centered overflow of the heart.  This is due to the Holy Spirit’s work applying the truth of God and His word to our hearts.  We have new hearts, with new desires and affections.  As these begin to rule and dominate, we are conformed to the likeness of Christ our Savior.  We begin to speak wisely, and gently.  We aren’t perfect, but by God’s grace we are justified and sanctified.

So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by  hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?  Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. (NASB) James 3:5-12

Wisdom from Above
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly,  natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the  seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (NASB) James 3:13-18

What Does James Chapter 2 Teach us About Faith, and Works?

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In James 2:14-26 we learn that what a person does as works is driven by their beliefs. Their works are a manifestation of what they believe. If one believes in being made right with God by doing works, they demonstrate that they don’t understand the gospel. They don’t understand the work that Jesus did on the cross to atone for their sins. The example of Abraham and Isaac is given. Abraham would not have went to sacrifice his son Isaac if he didn’t truly believe God told him to do it. By obeying God, he demonstrated his true belief in God. When we do God’s will because we believe Him, and His word, it demonstrates the kind of faith that separates us from demons who believe in God and tremble, as well as those who attempt to attain righteousness by their works. The believing heart and mind agree that there is nothing worthy in them, and entirely rely on Christ, and in so doing rejoice in Christ and His grace. This moves them to do works that are pleasing to Him because of His great love, and mercy, true believers demonstrate grace to the lost world of suffering sinners for the glory of Him who saved them.
James 2:14-26
Faith and Works
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (NASB) James 2:14-26