Thursday, February 22, 2018


"The world at the present time is sagaciously discussing how to quell the controversy and strife over doctrine and faith, and how to effect a compromise between the Church and the Papacy. Let the learned, the wise, it is said, bishops, emperor and princes, arbitrate. Each side can easily yield something, and it is better to concede some things which can be construed according to individual interpretation, than that so much persecution, bloodshed, war, and terrible, endless dissension and destruction be permitted. Here is lack of understanding, for understanding proves by the Word that such patchwork is not according to God's will, but that doctrine, faith and worship must be preserved pure and unadulterated; there must be no mingling with human nonsense, human opinions or wisdom. The Scriptures give us this rule: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29)."

"We must not, then, regard nor follow the counsels of human wisdom, but must keep ever before us God's will as revealed by his Word; we are to abide by that for death or life, for evil or good."

"The Galatians had received from Paul the wisdom of justification before God by faith in Christ alone. Nevertheless, inspite of that knowledge, they were deceived and would have lost their wisdom altogether through the claim of the false prophets that the God given Law must be observed, had not Paul aroused their understanding at this point and brought them back from error. The Corinthians were taught by their spiritual wisdom the article of Christian liberty; they knew that sacrifices to idols are nothing. But they failed in this respect: they proceeded without understanding, and made carnal use of their liberty, contrary to wisdom and offending others. Therefore Paul had to remind them of their departure from his doctrine and wisdom."

Friday, February 16, 2018

Martin Luther on Faith and Works

This is what we have often said, that we Christians must break forth, and show by our deeds and before the people that we have the true faith. God does not need your works, he has enough in your faith. Yet he wants you to work that you may show thereby your faith to yourself and all the world. For God indeed sees faith, but you and the people do not yet see it, therefore you should devote the works of faith to the benefit of your neighbor. Thus this servant is an example and picture of all those who should serve their neighbor through faith.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Love, Friendship, and the Word of God

"Therefore, do not speak to me
of love or friendship
when anything
is to be detracted
from the Word
or the faith;
for we are told that
not love
but the Word
brings eternal life,
God's grace,
and all heavenly treasures."

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Luther and Some Words on Bible Translation

Some thoughts on translating the Bible from Martin Luther, who translated the original text into the German of the common man. 

Luther knew the translator was constantly walking a tightrope between adhering to the original text and providing a clear expression of the meaning of the text. Not every expression in the Hebrew or Greek can be translated literally into German (or English). For Luther, once he grasped the meaning of the text, he would translate the meaning. Concerning the work of the Biblical translator, he once said,

“(he) must see to it – once he understands the Hebrew author – that he concentrates on the sense of the text, asking himself, ‘Pray tell, what do the Germans say in such a situation?’ Once he has the German words to serve the purpose, let him drop the Hebrew words and express the meaning freely in the best German he knows.”

In other words, the translator must “let go” of the form and translate the substance. The translator must not be a “prisoner” of the text.

Every Bible translator understands the difficulty faced when the original text cannot be translated exactly into the target language. The devoted translator is not out to CHANGE God’s Word, rather he is trying to communicate the truth of the Word to others who do not understand the original languages. This is not an easy task, especially when certain Hebrew and Greek words carry doctrinal importance.

Luther clearly struggled with the same translation concerns. He wrote,

“(I) have been very careful to see that where everything turns on a single passage, I have kept to the original quite literally and have not lightly departed from it.”

Yet, he also noted,

“I preferred to do violence to the German language rather than to depart from the word.”

And, what about those words from the original writings which bear much doctrinal significance? The Reformer said, 

“out of respect for such doctrine, and for the comforting of our conscience, we should keep such words, accustom ourselves to them, and so give place to the Hebrew language where it does a better job than our German.”

Praise the Lord for such individuals who devote their time, energy, and resources into translating the Word of God into a language you and I can easily understand!

"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Rolling Dice, Spinning Wheels, Drawing Cards

Last evening our church held a "Game Night", a regular event for the congregation. Having recently joined this church, this was my first opportunity to attend one. Food and drink were available as were a multitude of games. Attendees would pick out various board games, so there were multiple activities unfolding at the same time. Some played chess or Yahtzee or Life and so forth. Not being much of a gamer, I merely watched (though I considered playing a game of chess). I have absolutely nothing against participating in such games and, in the past, have played some of these same games with my friends and family. It was a fun time of fellowship even while sitting on the sidelines and I look forward to the next one.

As noted above, rolling dice and drawing cards are not, in themselves, sinful. But, when one adds wagers to such activities, they take on a different role. Over twenty-five years ago, the voters in my area approved a riverboat casino where dice are rolled, cards thrown, and slot handles pulled. How many have destroyed their families and their lives by participating in such activities since then?

Add to the casino the availability of lottery tickets. Often, you enter a gas station to pay for your gas and find yourself waiting in a line of people purchasing such tickets. How much money have so many thrown away? Again, how many families and lives have been wounded or ruined?

I was in a church once when a child was asked where his parents were on a given Sunday (her father was a deacon). The child replied she was staying with relatives that weekend because her parents went to Las Vegas to gamble. Unfortunately, gambling has even been accepted by some in the church. Our spiritual ancestors would roll over in their grave!

Augustine:  "The devil invented gambling." John Calvin had gambling outlawed in Geneva. And Martin Luther?

"Money won by gambling is not won without sin and self-seeking sin."

Playing board games for fun and fellowship is great. Playing any game (or sport) for money is sin. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I call upon you to search the Scriptures and see what God has said about gambling. If you want to throw away money, give it to the church or some Christian mission.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What Has Beer Got To Do With Heaven?

I do not drink alcoholic beverages and do not recommend them to others. Yet, the Bible commands us not to be drunk. It doesn't say a believer cannot drink something alcoholic.

However, reflecting on my college days is sometimes heartbreaking for alcohol ruined part of my time during those days. It has deprived me of memories (some, I suspect, are better off forgotten!). Thankfully, the Lord removed all desire for such beverages when He regenerated my soul. He certainly knew I could not (and would not) give it up on my own volition.

Martin Luther is my Christian role model. I try to emulate those traits which were godly and positive for living and avoid those which were not. As a human, he had both. As a German, he loved his beer (for those who snicker at Luther as my model and prefer someone like Spurgeon, remember CHS loved his cigars!). Here is one of his more famous quotes:

"Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!"

Sorry, Dr. Martin, but I will take a pass.