“Well, we all know that the thief on the cross wasn’t baptized!” If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. I will be having a conversation about what the Word of God says about Baptism and the question will come up, “Do you actually believe Baptism is necessary for salvation?”
How does one know that they are saved? Where can the Christian turn for any ground of certainty before God on the day of judgment? As a pastor, these questions are often found in the fear-filled voices of guilt-ridden Christians in my study. Lead a Bible study on Romans 9-11 sometime and watch fear fill the eyes as folks realize God is actually, actually sovereign over salvation.
In his travelogue, Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck offers a fascinating account of his attendance at a Vermont church one Sunday. He found a “John Knox” church where the preacher, “a man of iron with tool-steel eyes and a delivery like pneumatic drill, opened with a prayer and reassured us that we were a pretty sorry lot.”
Perhaps you’ve heard of Luther’s famous critique of the Epistle of James. He calls it an “epistle of straw” because he felt it lacked enough references to Christ for it to have any significant value
Out here in sunny California the church is watching as storm clouds are billowing in Sacramento. I’m sure you’ve all heard about the unsettling bill, AB 2943, being presented in the California State Assembly. If I understand it correctly (and I would be happily corrected), this bill, if it passes, would make sexual orientation change efforts illegal.
I know, I know: there’s nothing more irritating that a pastor using his kids as illustrations in a sermon. My kids agree. But, lucky for you, this is a blog and not a sermon. Plus, it really is remarkable how raising children can teach you about the nature of sin, both in the world and in yourself.
This past week, Time Magazine ran a number of articles and vignettes on what one might do to live a longer life. And this was great news! After all, death is the worst!
It is a rare treat for pastors to be able to sit alongside their families in a worship service. Okay, “treat” may not always be the most fitting word. This summer, for instance, after the way my children behaved during the divine service,
“We don’t want to impose our religion on her. We are going to let her decide what she wants to believe.” Many pastors know the disappointment that comes from these words.
Now that the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s initial protest has come and gone, can we finally stop talking about the Reformation? No chance!