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Our “New Wine” Reformation Heritage

“No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for
the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the
skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. 

But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved”

(Matthew 9:16-17 ESV).

This parable is a practical example of taking good care of household items.

Patching an old garment with unshrunk cloth would make no sense—as soon as you would wash it, the patch would shrink and you would be worse off than you were before. Putting new wine (which is still expanding) into stiff old wineskins would only result in a wasteful mess.

What was Jesus’ point with this parable?

The religion practiced by the self-righteous Pharisees was an old wineskin. “Follow our rules, be as holy as we claim to be, and God will reward you” was their message. This old wineskin was all works and pride, but the new wine that Jesus brought was the opposite. It was confession of sin, and trust in Christ for forgiveness of that sin. Jesus’ point was that works and grace are incompatible. You can’t “patch up” a religion of works. You can’t pour  the Gospel of grace into a heart that claims its own righteousness. It’s one or the other, as St. Paul makes plain: “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work” (Romans 11:6).Read More »Our “New Wine” Reformation Heritage

The Old Evil Foe STILL Means Deadly Woe

As evidenced in the famous Reformation hymn he wrote, Martin Luther was one person who did not have to be convinced of the existence of the devil, nor of the great danger that Satan poses to the souls of men. The monstrous nature of our old evil foe is aptly depicted in Revelation 20, where he appears as a dragon: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished” (1-3).Read More »The Old Evil Foe STILL Means Deadly Woe

The Reformation Blessing Above All Others

Martin_luther_BWartMany blessings of the Reformation of the 1500’s still affect us today.

We could mention having a Bible translation in our native tongue, having many hymns to sing praises to God, putting into practice the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers (that Christ has given every believer—not just to the pope and his priests—the keys to forgive or to retain sins), and parents and pastors using Luther’s Small Catechism to instruct children in the basic Bible teachings.Read More »The Reformation Blessing Above All Others

What is a Lutheran (according to Luther)?

You meet a new colleague and to your surprise you discover she is a Lutheran. You are delighted to find you have this in common.

In the course of time, however, after several discussions you realize your colleague does not believe God created the world in six days, as the Bible says. Then, come to find out, she doesn’t really believe the account of Jesus’ resurrection is to be taken literally. When it really comes down to it, she isn’t even sure there is a literal heaven and is pretty sure there is no such thing as hell.

You finally ask, incredulously, “You call yourself a ‘Lutheran’?”Read More »What is a Lutheran (according to Luther)?

What Is a ‘Confessional’ Lutheran?

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” 

(Matthew 7:15)

“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you
will save both yourself and those who hear you.” 

 (1 Timothy 4:16)

Jesus emphasized doctrine in His ministry. He went from city to city teaching about the coming of the Kingdom of God, preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Jesus was very adamant about corrupt and false teachings that were being disseminated among the people. “He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29). He possessed the authority of God, for Jesus was and is the Word made flesh. His Word is true, and only by continuing in His Word shall we be set free from sin, death, and the devil (John 8:31-32).

Jesus’ warning concerning the dangers of false teachers and Read More »What Is a ‘Confessional’ Lutheran?