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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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ConfessionalLutheran

Brought back to Jesus!

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Hello, all!

It had been several years since I had last attended a church I could feel excited about when I walked through the doors of Hope Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, Florida, in that sweet autumn day of 2012. Before that, I had been darting from church to church, never truly feeling at home. You see, I was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1973 and raised as a Baptist. That gave me a wonderful grounding in Scripture. The Lord inspired my heart to respond to the Altar Call back in 1988 and I was baptized three months later, in the same church I was raised in, by my childhood pastor, Eugene Foreman. I was brought up in church, attended the revivals, learned about TULIP, enjoyed Summit Lake once a year at our church retreat.

 

When I was growing up, I got greatly interested in genealogy. That interest stayed with me and branched off into an interest in church tradition. I knew that the Baptist denomination I grew up in separated from the Church of England, but other than that, the many different histories of the Baptist movement became confusing for me. I knew Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior although I fell away more times than I can count. I relied very heavily on God's forgiveness. I joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1995 because I was attracted to the liturgy, my grandmother was raised as a Catholic and they had a tradition. See, being raised in my Baptist Church, I didn't know much about theology beyond that Jesus is the Son of God, He died for my sins, He was resurrected and He's in Heaven. Church history didn't really come up very much, except that God's Word is in the Bible and that has everything we believe in it. I had questions regarding the Lord's Supper ( it was celebrated as a memorial), baptism and Once Saved Always Saved. I held to a very literal reading of Holy Scripture and trying to use the scientific method just seemed nonsensical to me when one would try to apply it to God's Word.

 

So, I joined the Catholic Church, had the liturgy I craved and a firmer grounding in post- Apostolic church tradition as taught by the Catholics. I did a lot of things. I kept up my Bible reading, went to Mass once a week ( Sundays and other days I was told I was required to attend Mass and daily when it got closer to time for me to go to Florida), Confession once a month,, Eucharistic Adoration and Rosary recitation. All very fine, I'm sure. I got involved with a woman I later married, got married outside the Catholic Church but then had my marriage convalidated in the Catholic Church, and flirted with one different religion after the other. I fell out of faith before I got married, but then I tried to get back in ( hence the convalidation thing. Convalidation is simply having your marriage blessed by a priest) and I went through the routine with a very anti- Catholic family I was living with ( the in- laws). Well, we moved down to Florida. Jacksonville. After awhile, the Catholic Church lost its appeal. Most of my family is Protestant, see and I was having a harder and harder time reconciling what I read in the Bible with some of the things I was hearing at Mass. I still craved liturgy.

 

To try to placate my discontented wife, we started attending the church of her childhood, the Presbyterian Church ( USA). The people were grand and the theology was something I completely disagreed with, so I suggested to my now ex wife that we take it to the Lord in prayer where we should go. I saw a small Lutheran Church not far from where we lived. It was called Hope Lutheran Church and it was affiliated with the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. I thought I'd give the pastor a call. It turned out that it was God calling me. After a couple of months attending Hope and participating in some of its ministries, I thought I'd ask to take the New to Lutheranism instruction course and be received by Hope Lutheran Church as a formal member. My wife would enter the church with me. So, in late February of 2013, we and a couple of other people, were received as members of Hope Lutheran Church.

 

I bought the Lutheran Book of Prayers, Concordia, the Book of Lutheran Confessions, the Lutheran Study Bible and CFW Walther's " Law and Gospel" and began a rigorous program of prayer and Bible Study. The Holy Spirit began to move me in directions I never would have considered. After my divorce ( irreconcilable differences) I came back up to Northern Virginia and attended Hope Lutheran Church here at home, as well. God has blessed me with an active prayer life, friends at church, a good job and positions of responsibility at church. In fact, at the moment, I'm considering the ministry as a very real choice for me at this time. Jesus brought me back to Him! It took a couple of twists and turns, but the Lord brought me back to Him and I can only hope and pray that He impacts everybody's life as He has mine!

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Welcome to the forum ConfessionalLutheran

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Welcome C.Lutheran!

 

God bless,

William

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You're very welcome C.Lutheran. If I might dare add, I kinda chuckled (I know it is saddening) by your PCUSA endeavor. No doubt, you found out the hard way, the PCUSA has nothing in common with Presbyterians other than its form of church government. I have a brother in Christ that is from the Missouri Synod, and we go to a Bible Study that is every two weeks by my church, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. I must admit, that if the Orthodox Presbyterian Church wasn't available to me in my location, I'd consider the Lutheran Missouri Synod.

 

God bless,

William

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Amen, William. Part of that endeavor involved my sitting in a Sunday School class and hearing the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes being downgraded to Jesus persuading selfish hoarders in the crowd of 5,000 to cough up the hidden bread and fish they apparently secreted on their own persons. That kind of thinking made me wonder where else I could go where miracles were seen as miracles. Turned out that that local LCMS church was within walking distance of our condo in the Baymeadows part of Jacksonville. I will say that part of the reason I considered Presbyterianism was because my grandfather McDonald was brought up in that church!:)

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Amen, William. Part of that endeavor involved my sitting in a Sunday School class and hearing the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes being downgraded to Jesus persuading selfish hoarders in the crowd of 5,000 to cough up the hidden bread and fish they apparently secreted on their own persons. That kind of thinking made me wonder where else I could go where miracles were seen as miracles. Turned out that that local LCMS church was within walking distance of our condo in the Baymeadows part of Jacksonville.

 

Unbelievable. That was the exact same Catholic interpretation that made me stand up to my Catholic teacher in my Catholic High School. I denounced Catholicism in front of a whole class that day, and was dismissed from attending my required class thereafter. You do realize that some pastors in the PCUSA do not even believe in God? Presbyterian Minister Doesn’t Believe in God Yet Defends His Christianity

 

God bless,

William

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Unbelievable. That was the exact same Catholic interpretation that made me stand up to my Catholic teacher in my Catholic High School. I denounced Catholicism in front of a whole class that day, and was dismissed from attending my required class thereafter. You do realize that some pastors in the PCUSA do not even believe in God? http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/...s-christianity

 

God bless,

William

 

I am not surprised. I don't want to say anything any of the other posters here might take issue with, but I will say that it's that left- leaning tendency among liberal denominations that is costing them so many of their members. People aren't satisfied with form without substance, or an " anything-goes-just-be-nice" kind of worldview ( it certainly can't be called "theology"), when that isn't what Christianity is about. I appreciated when I was received into the LCMS that part of the affirmation of faith was to " continue steadfast in this confession and this Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it." I'm home, by the grace of God and in my own heart, I know this to be a vow I dare not break. Christian faith and profession has nothing to do with the Social Gospel, or feel-good lectures from a pulpit and everything to do with Jesus, Who commanded us not to conform with the ever changing standards of this world.

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I know this to be a vow I dare not break.

 

Took a similar vow in my membership reception. I vowed to be held accountable to the OPC which abides by the Westminster Confession of Faith, I submitted to the teaching of the OPC, and to be held accountable to Church discipline in life and in doctrine should I be found delinquent.

 

God bless,

William

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Took a similar vow in my membership reception. I vowed to be held accountable to the OPC which abides by the Westminster Confession of Faith, I submitted to the teaching of the OPC, and to be held accountable to Church discipline in life and in doctrine should I be found delinquent.

 

God bless,

William

 

Excellent. We in the LCMS use Concordia, the Book of Lutheran Confessions ( aka the Book of Concord), written largely by Luther and Melanchthon, with later additions by Martin Chemnitz. We are held accountable by our congregation, too. Part of every service is dedicated to our writing our names in a sort of attendance book ( which was new to me when I first saw it, but it makes sense) and I guess that is how they check on us.

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Excellent. We in the LCMS use Concordia, the Book of Lutheran Confessions ( aka the Book of Concord), written largely by Luther and Melanchthon, with later additions by Martin Chemnitz. We are held accountable by our congregation, too. Part of every service is dedicated to our writing our names in a sort of attendance book ( which was new to me when I first saw it, but it makes sense) and I guess that is how they check on us.

 

I have read it :) And my church also takes attendance, writing those that miss church on any given Lord's day.

 

May I also share something with, something we have in common: https://www.christforums.org/forum/e...y-of-calvinism

 

Soli Deo Gloria

William

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I have read it :) And my church also takes attendance, writing those that miss church on any given Lord's day.

 

May I also share something with, something we have in common: https://www.christforums.org/forum/e...y-of-calvinism

 

Soli Deo Gloria

William

 

Awesome, thank you so much for the link! :) I'll get started watching straightaway.

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I'm glad to hear that you've come back, and I would also point out that what you like in Lutheranism which appeal to you can be found elsewhere, certainly in most Reformed denominations. What much of Christendom misses is the most vital part. It's the gospel. Bryan Wolfmuelher get's it. I wish that there were more like him. . .

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I'm glad to hear that you've come back, and I would also point out that what you like in Lutheranism which appeal to you can be found elsewhere, certainly in most Reformed denominations. What much of Christendom misses is the most vital part. It's the gospel. Bryan Wolfmuelher get's it. I wish that there were more like him. . .

 

Ah, but for me the pinnacle of the Gospel is found in the Word and Sacraments, which you can indeed find in most Reformed denominations, but what they lack is an affirmation of the Sacramental Union of Our Blessed Lord's Body and Blood with the Bread and Wine of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. From the Defense of the Augsburg Confession:

Article X: Of the Holy Supper.

 

 

54] The Tenth Article has been approved, in which we confess that we believe, that in the Lord's Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, and are truly tendered, with those things which are seen, bread and wine, to those who receive the Sacrament. This belief we constantly defend, as the subject has been carefully examined and considered. For since Paul says, 1 Cor. 10:16, that the bread is the communion of the Lord's body, etc., it would follow, if the Lord's body were not truly present, that the bread is not a communion of the body, but only of the spirit of Christ. 55] And we have ascertained that not only the Roman Church affirms the bodily presence of Christ, but the Greek Church also both now believes, and formerly believed, the same. For the canon of the Mass among them testifies to this, in which the priest clearly prays that the bread may be changed and become the very body of Christ. And Vulgarius, who seems to us to be not a silly writer, says distinctly that bread is not a mere figure, but 56] is truly changed into flesh. And there is a long exposition of Cyril on John 15, in which he teaches that Christ is corporeally offered us in the Supper. For he says thus: Nevertheless, we do not deny that we are joined spiritually to Christ by true faith and sincere love. But that we have no mode of connection with Him, according to the flesh, this indeed we entirely deny. And this, we say, is altogether foreign to the divine Scriptures. For who has doubted that Christ is in this manner a vine, and we the branches, deriving thence life for ourselves? Hear Paul saying 1 Cor. 10:17; Rom. 12:5; Gal. 3:28: We are all one body in Christ; although we are many, we are, nevertheless, one in Him; for we are, all partakers of that one bread. Does he perhaps think that the virtue of the mystical benediction is unknown to us? Since this is in us, does it not also, by the communication of Christ's flesh, cause Christ to dwell in us bodily? And a little after: Whence we must consider that Christ is in us not only according to the habit, which we call love,57] but also by natural participation, etc. We have cited these testimonies, not to undertake a discussion here concerning this subject, for His Imperial Majesty does not disapprove of this article, but in order that all who may read them may the more clearly perceive that we defend the doctrine received in the entire Church, that in the Lord's Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, and are truly tendered with those things which are seen, bread and wine. And we speak of the presence of the living Christ [living body]; for we know that death hath no more dominion over Him, Rom. 6:9.

 

http://bookofconcord.org/defense_8_holysupper.php

 

How this mystery happens is irrelevant. The Lord said it, thus it is so, for He can not lie or deceive. You're right, the whole of Christendom would do well to return to the basic principles of the Gospel.

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      in God (Trinitarian doctrines)

    • The true worship of Jesus by the Jehovah's Witnesses (2 Timothy 4:16-18)

      2 Timothy 4:16-18 (16) At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. (17) But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. (18) The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)   In their book Stay Close to Jehovah's Organization the Jehovah's Witnesses assert the following (the bold face is mine):  Even if you do find yourself isolated from all your Christian brothers, keep in mind that you are not isolated from Jehovah and his Son, Jesus Christ. Your hope can remain firm. Jehovah can still hear your prayers, and he can strengthen you with his spirit. Look to him for guidance. Remember that you are a servant of Jehovah and a disciple of Jesus Christ. Therefore, make good use of opportunities to witness. Jehovah will bless your efforts, and others may soon join you in true worship.—Acts 4:13-31; 5:27-42; Phil. 1:27-30; 4:6, 7; 2 Tim. 4:16-18. (Organized to Do Jehovah's Will, see the 5th to the last paragraph). https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014947    As with all the other passages cited 2 Timothy 4:16-18 is also used in reference to true worship.   Notice though that the Jehovah's Witnesses affirm that the "Lord" in both 2 Timothy 4:17 and 2 Timothy 4:18 refers to the Lord Jesus.      a. Our Kingdom Ministry—2014: Even in his heavenly position, Jesus shows personal interest. (2 Tim. 4:17) (Improving Our Skills in the Ministry—Showing Personal Interest) https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/202014401      b. The Watchtower: The individuals hearing Jesus could, if they faithfully served God, have the expectation of reigning with Christ in heaven. (2 Tim. 4:18; Rev. 20:4, 6) (Questions From Readers, March 1, 1967). https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1967167    Thus the Jehovah's Witnesses (inadvertently?) affirm that true worship is properly rendered unto the Lord Jesus.  

      in Arianism

    • Why Did Jesus Sleep During the Storm?

      The story of the sea storm in the Gospel of Mark picks up right after Jesus has given a series of sermons. He’s preached to a crowd so large that he had to speak from a boat pushed a short distance into the water. Mark 4:35–41 tells the story of Jesus calming the storm—but, curiously, we find the Lord asleep as the chaos breaks out around him: And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:37–39) Why was Jesus asleep in the boat? There are a few possible explanations. Mark, as well as most of the other biblical authors, is spare with his details—including only those elements necessary to the author’s agenda—so we could assume it’s a salient element to the story. There are three possibilities. 1. A Link to Jonah Perhaps Mark tells us Jesus is sleeping in order to link the account to Jonah. The story of Jonah shares similar elements and language (in its Greek translation) to the one in Mark 4, which suggests Mark is evoking the story. One is the idea of the main character sleeping in the bottom of the boat during the storm, though the language used to describe Jonah is more vivid and possibly pejorative. 2. A Clue about Jesus’s Humanity Jesus is fully human: He works hard, does much public speaking, and deals with many different people, all of whom want something from him. Given the strains ordinary ministers experience in their daily work, the fully human Jesus must have suffered from exhaustion during his earthly ministry. 3. A Clue about Jesus’s Divinity Though Jesus is a human, he also has full confidence in his divine identity. As only the second person of the Trinity can, Jesus sleeps like a baby amid the chaos, secure in the realization that he is one with the Creator, and his time has not come. His sleep signals divine insight: Jesus knows he’s not going to die tonight. Of course, all three of these explanations are possible at the same time, because human language in the hands of a skilled author can convey multiple complex ideas at once. Why These Three Options? Surely, the sleeping Jesus is supposed to make you think about Jonah’s story (the first option), where a suspicious storm develops and is quieted by God and all the witnesses are left terrified. Remember when the sailors cast lots, asking, “Who has brought this storm on us?” The lot falls on Jonah. They begrudgingly throw the prophet overboard, and the storm immediately dissipates. The emphasis is on who calms the storm. The Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, stills it, and the sailors know they have just witnessed God’s hand and his complete authority over the forces of creation. In Jonah 1:16, “the men feared the LORD exceedingly.” The Greek translation of this passage emphasizes the great fear the sailors experience when they see God’s power on display. It’s even greater than their fear of the storm (1:5). It’s fear-inducing to know that the cosmic God who calms the storm also cares about the rebellion of a single man. In Mark, Jesus also sleeps. The disciples wake him for fear of their lives (as in Jonah, the sleeper is roused with a rhetorical question), and the wind and waves are calmed. Mark seems to be drawing our attention to the agent who calms the storm. In Jonah, the agent is the Lord, but in Mark 4 it is Jesus. Jesus is to the storm in Mark 4 what God is to the wind and waves in Jonah 1. And as if to drive the point home, the disciples who bear witness to all of this are described in virtually the same phraseology used in the Greek translation of Jonah. They are “exceedingly afraid” (Mark 4:41).  The storm was terrifying, but this prophet in the boat with the power to speak truth to the weather presents an entirely new source of fear. The authority of God inspires such fear in those who see it firsthand. But the second option works as well. Jesus’s sleep in the boat is a reminder of his humanity. It’s a fascinating idea that there were regular moments when the God-man, the Lord of the universe, may have laid down and pondered some random thoughts before sleep overtook him. As a human, he could grow tired, even to a point of exhaustion. So he gets in the boat and lies back like a business traveler on a red-eye flight, trying to fit in sleep wherever he can. Mark’s audience could readily identify with Jesus’s humanity. The third option is also compelling. Just the fact that Jesus sleeps is a clue to his divinity. How? Jesus didn’t fear the wind and waves or anything they could do to him. The Creator need not be restless in the face of a dangerous creation. When Jonah secretly sleeps below the decks, he does so in a spirit of fatalism and dread. When Jesus sleeps in the hull of the boat, he does so in confidence. He doesn’t lose sleep on account of weather patterns. Jesus is more than a teacher; he’s a miracle-worker. Once the reader absorbs that point, Mark ups the ante. Jesus is more than a teacher and more than a miracle-worker. He has the authority of the Creator himself. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • When did Jesus begin his ministry?

      Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus, and maybe two or three years before the death of Herod.  This puts his birth year in 7 BC or 6 BC.  He began his ministry when he was about thirty (Luke 3: 23), which would be about the year 23 AD or 24 AD.   But the ministry of Jesus was preceded by that of John, which began in the fifteenth year or the reign of Tiberius (Luke 3: 1&2) – either 28 AD or 29 AD.   So I am wondering: In which year did Jesus begin his ministry?  Also, in which year was he crucified?

      in Bible Study

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