1. God not only created you through His Word, God is daily working” in you (John 5:17), re-creating, forgiving, refurbishing you, and strengthening your faith.
2. Just as yeast permeates all the dough in bread, so also teachings—both true and false—are living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and permeate and take control of your brain and your entire life (Luke 13:21).
3. Your mind can be compared to a lawn, where the devil throws in his weed seeds. He does by this using television, the internet, etc. Instead of endlessly picking at or ripping out the weeds, the best defense is to fertilize the good plants. Then the healthy, good lawn grass will choke out and even kill the crabgrass. Instead of only pointing out and picking at false teaching, teach, memorize, and sing the good doctrines and teachings of Christ, then the wrong teachings will be choked and forced out.
4. In Matthew 13:24, Jesus speaks of His living Word being sown by pastors, teachers, and parents. However, when you are not looking—or when you have your guard down—the devil will come. His seeds are also living. Unless exposed and dealt with, the devil’s seeds/yeast will eventually take root, grow, expand, and take over your entire mind and life.
5. First, in Mark 2:17 Jesus says: “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus states directly that He is your spiritual physician.
Second, Jesus also describes Himself as the One who graciously provides you with a diagnosis of your spiritual condition by calling and appointing pastors, teachers, and evangelists to speak on His behalf. Through these called “physicians,” Christ speaks your spiritual condition to you. “Jesus therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you’” (John 20:21). All those Jesus calls to serve Him are included in this responsibility of speaking on His behalf.
6. Even after the Flood, the Holy Spirit says that God continued to see that “THE INTENT OF MAN’S HEART IS EVIL FROM HIS YOUTH” (Genesis 8:21).
7. Before the Flood, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that EVERY INTENT OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY . . . And the LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land’” (Genesis 6:5, 7). This condition of man has not changed.
8. Jesus called 70 people and sent them out to carry out His ministry on His behalf (Luke 10:1). Later Jesus commanded His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples by baptizing and teaching (Matthew 28:19–20). Today, Jesus continues to call people into His service, “some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Through His congregations, Christ continues to call pastors to give you and others God’s diagnosis of your spiritual condition—as God describes it to you. God also appoints these pastors to distribute His divine Medicine, beginning with His miracle Medicine of Baptism. This initial divine Medicine is followed by the ongoing treatment of His living Word in Christ’s Absolution, His Holy Communion, and the proclamation of His living Word, all which fight hourly against Satan and the power of Sin—which are constantly at work in you. Thank God for Jesus Christ, your divine Physician, and all those whom He calls to serve under Him as “spiritual under-physicians.”
9. As your Lutheran pastor, on behalf of God, begins a Baptism, he will say words like this: “We learn from the Word of God that all men are sinners and are therefore under the wrath of God.” In other words, genuine Lutheran pastors say nothing more, and nothing less, than what God has clearly revealed. All newborns and adults who are not baptized are guilty before God, and unless they are shielded by the blood of Christ, they will suffer the deadly judgment of God. Outside of Baptism, all newborns and adults have spiritual HIV/AIDS, and unless they receive God’s medicine to control Sin (Baptism—Romans 6:6–23), their chance of surviving spiritually is zero!
10. Outside of Lutheranism and classic Reformed, Protestantism unites its public voice in denying that all of us are conceived and born in Sin (Psalm 51:5). They thereby deny that newborns and infants are vulnerable to Sin. They argue that vulnerability to the deadly power of Sin begins at the “Age of Accountability,” a human term with absolutely no Scriptural basis.
11. God says in Romans 6:3–5 that He unites, that is, He grafts you to Christ. To understand what is happening, consider this: The life-giving juice of a plant stem flows into the grafted-on branch, keeping it alive, healthy, and able to fight off disease. Similarly, when, in Baptism, you are grafted to Christ, the “juice”—Christ’s sin-atoning blood—flows into you to give you life. Christ then lives in you, and you in Him (John 14:17–23; Galatians 2:20) and works in you to subdue the power of Sin (1 John 4:4). The specific result of your being united to Christ (Romans 6:5) is then fully explained in the subsequent passage: Romans 6:6–23.
12. The chart on pages 8–9 discusses two basic Scripture doctrines: Original Sin and Baptism. The chart also explains which denominations believe and teach that man is infected with Original Sin and that Baptism is God’s divine Medicine to suppress and control the deadly and incurable Original Sin in adults and babies—as taught in Psalm 51:3; Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21–22.
13. Lutherans and Roman Catholics both officially teach that all people are born with the deadly and incurable disease of Original Sin. Lutherans and Catholics both see Baptism as a miraculous power of God. Roman Catholics, however, officially believe and teach that Baptism totally removes all sin, including Original Sin. Lutherans believe and teach, on the basis of the Spirit’s teaching through St. Paul, that even after a person is baptized and his sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), a residual root of Sin remains in every person’s heart. This residual root (like a weed cut off at the ground level) continues daily/hourly to sprout and cause people to do sinful acts. It is like a disease which medicine weakens, but does not completely cure.
14. Roman Catholics are all officially taught that they go to Holy Communion not for the forgiveness of sins (Catechism of the Catholic Church, page 309, ¶1393–1395), but for grace to live a holy life in which they strive not to sin. Lutherans go to Holy Communion as often as possible because in Holy Communion they receive forgiveness of all their sins (Matthew 26:28) and are strengthened against the residual root of Original Sin left behind after Baptism.
Protestants do not believe Holy Communion is God’s Medicine for you to prevent the power of Sin from re-enslaving you (Romans 6:6–23). Instead, Protestants officially teach and practice that Holy Communion is merely a remembrance of what Jesus did on the cross and it has no power to forgive Sin.
15. God urges all of His children to see Him where He wants to be found (Isaiah 65:1–2). However, many people turn their noses up at God and follow “their own thoughts” (Isaiah 65, especially verse 2b). Thus, when you deny, or simply ignore, the Holy Spirit’s clear teaching of the destructive and incurable power of Original Sin, and if you also refuse to believe that Christ’s Sacraments have any miraculous power, you will not be moved to attend a Lutheran church. Rather, you will be led to attend one of the great variety of Protestant churches where your own convictions and, as the prophet Isaiah says, “your own thoughts,” are confirmed as reasonable. Or you may go to no church at all!
However, if you believe the Spirit’s teaching of Original Sin (Psalm 51:3–5), Jesus’ teaching about your spiritual condition in Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21, and the Spirit’s additional teachings in Job 25:4; Psalm 14:1–3; Mark 10:18; Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1; Titus 3:3; Romans 5:6–21, you will definitely seek a Lutheran church where these clear spiritual doctrines are not only officially taught, but weekly confessed and practiced publicly. You will also seek a church where pastors and people unashamedly practice God’s miracle of Baptism as His treatment to forgive and suppress Sin. The congregation will also have God’s gifts of Absolution, Christ-centered preaching, and regular Holy Communion to suppress and control the power of Sin, as the Spirit teaches in Romans 6:3–23.
16. People of all ages around the world are crushed when they hear their physician tell them: “You have cancer. Now what?” The initial response of the patient who hears this is: “Doctor, is there any hope? Is there any cure? Is there any medicine to control this cancer within me?”
17. Jesus calls pastors to be His faithful and loyal spokesmen. In Matthew 15:16–20, especially verse 19, Jesus summarizes every person’s moral condition. In Matthew 7:11, He reminds us that we are evil. It is not what goes into you that makes you morally sick, Jesus said. Rather, Jesus says to you: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, slanders” (Matthew 15:19). Therefore, faithful pastors tell their parishioners the same words Jesus instructs them to use. In a spiritual sense, your pastor will repeat Jesus’ message to you: “You have spiritual cancer.”
18. In his Pentecost sermon, Peter told the people gathered that they had “crucified” Christ through their sins. Each Sunday, pastors loyal to Christ tell Christ’s people not only of their Sin (Matthew 15:19), but also of Christ’s healing for their Sin: “But He [Jesus] was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are HEALED” (Isaiah 53:5).
19. Even though God heals you from Sin at different times and in different ways, His active ingredient/power is always the same: God’s living Word (Hebrews 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Jeremiah 1:12) When we talk about God coming to us through His active ingredient, we need to keep the following in mind: As God comes to you to justify and to save you, He does not do this by injecting or infusing you with His grace, thereby enabling you to work yourself into an acceptable relationship with Him. Rather, in His Word, God justifies you by declaring you, in spite of your Sin, as “innocent and holy” in His sight. This is His gracious Word of justification.
20. In Genesis 3:15, we read that after the fall into Sin, when Adam and Eve had to fight and struggle daily against the power of Sin, God promised them—and through them, you—that through Eve’s Seed, Jesus and His living Word would be the power to suppress and destroy Sin and the devil. Furthermore, through God’s miracle of Baptism, God unites you to Jesus—the Seed (Romans 6:5). As a result of being united to Christ, the Seed, you live in Him and He lives in you (John 14:20). With Christ the Seed living in you, you have this divine confidence: “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
21. Of course, the active ingredient in all these divine Medicines is the same: God’s “living and active” Word (Hebrews 4:12). Therefore, for your divine protection, and your blessed assurance, God gives you His special divine Medicine in a variety of forms, all to combat Satan and the powers of evil, including the power of Sin.
22. Each of us fails daily, even hourly. Instead of constantly carrying unbearable burdens of guilt and hesitating to ask God for forgiveness, this Spirit-authored opening verse is like God’s “welcome mat” to His throne room. You are always welcomed into God’s presence, where Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for you as He points to His bloody hands and His wounded side: “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34), “And by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5b).
23. Led by the Spirit in Psalm 51:2, David asks God for a “thorough” washing of Sin. In this way, God does 100% of the washing and not 99%, leaving you responsible for 1%. When God does it all, you have the perfect and total assurance that He desires you to have. The Spirit’s Word in Hebrews 10:21–23 undergirds this precise teaching of assurance of being washed clean of all Sin when it says: “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22–23).
24. First, Psalm 51:3 is a reminder that, if weaknesses, temptations, and failures are a part of your daily life, you are not unique. Like David and all Christians, temptations surround you every hour you are awake, buzzing at you like bees (Psalm 118:12). Furthermore, as the Spirit daily takes you by the hand and walks you through Psalm 51:3, He gives your heart a spirit of genuine repentance, not a false repentance based on blaming other people, events, or circumstances (2 Corinthians 7:9–10).
25. David confesses, as we also should, that God’s dealings with us are fair and upright. This moves us to recall the words of the repentant thief on the cross: “And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41).
26. Psalm 51:4 is often translated to show David speaking in the past tense about the sins of his past. Luther says David was surely confessing the sins of his past; however, this verse must be translated, for David and for all of us today, to refer not to the past, but to the present: “Against Thee, Thee only, I [do I sin, and do] what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge” (Psalm 51:4). This is necessary so that we daily confess the root of Sin deep within us, and not just the fruit of Sin that shows up sporadically.
27. Most Protestant denominations talk about the “age of accountability.” This means that they believe and teach that their children from birth to ages 9 through 12 are not vulnerable to serious faith-destroying temptations of Sin. The Holy Spirit teaches otherwise, clearly and emphatically. When you were conceived—when you were a tiny sperm-egg joined—you were already infected by the deadly and incurable disease of Sin. This critical Psalm 51:5 is echoed by Jesus’ Words in Matthew: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders” (Matthew 15:19).
28. God desires that you confess to Him your deepest thoughts of failure, your most secret sins and actions. As the Spirit works a deep and thorough cleansing—even of the secret sins of your heart—the Spirit will thereby cause the Light of Christ, and His mercy and forgiveness, to shine ever more brightly and brilliantly. When Jesus says to you “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12) and “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5), He is not speaking merely of the “light of knowledge.” Jesus is here speaking about Himself as the light which drives out all the darkness of Sin from the most secret compartments of your heart. “There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (John 1:9).
29. Led by the Spirit, David spoke of God’s washing from Sin, a washing most articulate in Christ’s instruction to Nicodemus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5) and in His command to baptize all nations (Matthew 28:19). John also alludes to this in 1 John 5:6–8. This vision of the Spirit spoken by David is now spoken most clearly in Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5. It means that God miraculously washes you by His living Word in Christ’s Baptism and He continues to wash you daily by His living Word and Spirit in daily devotions, Christ-centered Sunday sermons, Absolution, and Holy Communion.
30. Not everyone who hears God’s Word hears joy and gladness (Matthew 13:13–14). Only God the Holy Spirit can open your ears to the Gospel (Luke 24:45). Thus, before every sermon, before every Bible study, prior to each time you read the Scriptures, simply repeat—with joy—Psalm 51:8. In this way your heart will be lifted, your soul will be filled with peace, your spiritual eyes will see God’s road ahead, and your spirit will be lifted for the day.
31. These words are not spoken in a cowardly or frightened way. Rather, these are strong words of confidence in Christ. By speaking or singing these words of the Spirit, you are proclaiming total confidence that Christ can do and has done all you could never do: blot out all of your secret and most shameful sins. When you say these words, speak with confidence in the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7).
32. As the Spirit assures you, God can and will create a totally new heart in you each day. Why every day? Because every day Satan and his evil powers cause seeds of evil ideas and thoughts to be planted into your heart. The struggle with Sin (Hebrews 12:4) happens daily and hourly. In your struggle, God will create in you a clean heart and He will give you a solid and steadfast spirit in your heart and soul.
33. When all goes well, no one needs anyone to turn to for help. At least this is what many think. However, when life becomes unsteady, tumultuous, and uncertain, people—especially Christians—suddenly realize there is no human resource to turn to for spiritual and emotional assurance. The psalmist knew and spoke bluntly, asking and pleading: “Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). Peter said it well: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68–69).
34. Regularly reading and singing Psalm 51:12 will cause you to ask the Lord, with confidence, that He restore unto you an unwavering spirit and the joy of forgiveness and the hope of heaven. Jesus urges you to pray, believing, and you will receive your request. Never hesitate. Always pray with confidence for the joy of your salvation. Know with absolute certainty that God will give you a positive spirit, even in negative situations.
35. The Spirit worked in the psalmist’s heart to bring him the assurance of forgiveness, hope, and strength. Overjoyed, the psalmist now wants others to have what he is experiencing. Many people cry for and demand missions and evangelism techniques. But for a truly repentant and forgiven sinner, training to communicate the Gospel may not be necessary. This Good News erupts immediately, as recorded in Acts 4:20; Matthew 28:1–8; Mark 7:36; and Jeremiah 20:9.
36. In God’s sight, all Sin—even our smallest sins—deserve death. All Sin can be removed only by the shedding of blood. “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). “‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (Leviticus 17:11). When you daily speak David’s Spirit-inspired words, you are asking to be delivered from all of your Sins which have cost the bloody death of Christ (Isaiah 53:4–5). Once the Spirit teaches your heart and mind that you have been pardoned from your deserved guilt and judgment of death, you no longer seek to save yourself through your own righteousness. “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6a). Then turn and sing endlessly about Christ’s saving righteousness (Philippians 3:7–11, especially verse 9).
37. By nature you are like the nine lepers who did not thank Jesus for His miraculous healing (Luke 17:11–19, especially verse 17). Even as a Christian, all you do is done by God at work in you (1 Corinthians 1:30–31; Philippians 1:6; 2:13; Isaiah 26:12; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Kings 8:58). Even your praise is prompted and carried out by God.
38. Although you may be a baptized Christian, because of your old nature—your Old Adam—every day you are tempted back into your old ways (Romans 7:19). A second daily temptation is that the devil wants you to believe is that you who must do something to re-establish your relationship with God. In Psalm 51, the Spirit gently but firmly reminds you that God first desires sincere daily repentance on your part. God-pleasing repentance is something that only God can give you as a gift (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:24–26). Verses 16–17 are your confession that you cannot please God in your flesh, but only through Christ who lives in you (John 14:23; 1 John 4:4). God breaks your spirit through His gift of repentance and thereby makes you acceptable to Himself (2 Corinthians 7:9–10). Only when you turn totally away from your own works of righteousness to justify yourself in God’s sight, and only then, can you bring Him sacrifices that flow from the righteousness of Christ.
39. In 1 Corinthians 6:11, the Holy Spirit tells not only what He does for you in Baptism—He washed you from Sin. The Holy Spirit says more. He says that at the very moment God worked His miracle of Baptism in you He also instantly sanctified you and justified you!
40. The Holy Spirit says, “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the lord Jesus Christ and in the spirit of our god.” When Jesus instituted Baptism, He said it is to be done “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) because there is miraculous power in His name. Led by the Holy Spirit, the psalmist prays, “Save me, O God, by Thy name” (Psalm 54:1; see also Psalm 116:4).
41. In 1 Peter 3:20–21 the Holy Spirit draws upon one of the greatest of God’s acts of rescue: Noah’s Ark. In His double use of His gift of water, God destroyed some and saved Noah and his family (Genesis 7:21–23). Just as God saved Noah and his family by water connected to His Word of promise, so also now, in His miracle of Baptism, God saves you—not from the sinful people around you, but from your own self-condemning Sin. This promise is very clear, as the Spirit says in 1 Peter 3:21: “Corresponding to that [that being the water and God’s promise to save Noah] baptism now saves you.” Therefore, let the simple, bold, clear statement of the Holy Spirit speak directly to your heart and give you the peace about God’s miracle of Baptism that He desires you to have—Baptism saves you!
In Ephesians 5:26 the Holy Spirit speaks about Jesus’ cleansing of His church “by the washing of water with the Word.” It is extremely important to note that the Reformed/Anglican Bible teacher, John Stott, in his Inter-Varsity Press, published The Message of Ephesians, publicly admits that “the washing of the water is an unambiguous reference to Baptism” (page 227). This is an amazing admission for someone who denies the sin-cleansing and forgiving power of God’s miracle of Baptism. After Stott has no choice but to admit that “washing” in Ephesians 5:26 refers to Baptism, he then adds a clever but transparent disclaimer, thereby twisting the Spirit’s meaning. Referring to the Spirit’s expression, “washing of water,” Stott says that the additional expression “with the Word” means not that this is a living and miracle-producing efficacious Word; rather, this is a simple Word that needs explanation. What an amazing theological sleight of hand! Don’t follow Stott. Follow the simple teaching of the Spirit, as Christians have done for centuries, and you will receive the comfort and the assurance of the Spirit that God desires you to have: Jesus cleanses you and all members of His church by the water connected to God’s life-giving promise of His living Word. God’s Word does not only give you spiritual information, which it surely does (Psalm 119: 105); it is also living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and works in you to forgive you and to create and strengthen faith in you (Romans 10:17).
Regarding the teaching of the Holy Spirit in Titus 3:5, Luther says, “You have here a commendation of Baptism such as I can hardly find anywhere else in the New Testament” (Luther’s Works, vol. 29, p. 81). Here again, because this teaching of the Spirit does not fit human opinion (Isaiah 65:2), many modern evangelical Bible teachers deny that this “washing” is referring to God’s miracle of Baptism. Close your ears to those who deny God’s clear revelation that He washes you by the waters of Baptism—that God continues to wash you in the daily and weekly “washing of His Word” (Psalm 51:2–7) and that He therefore forgives you, cleanses you, strengthens you, and justifies you (Ephesians 5:27). This, the Holy Spirit says, is a promise of God you can trust (Titus 3:8).
Of all the Bible passages in which your merciful heavenly Father gives you the assurance that His miracle of Baptism washes, renews, regenerates, and saves you, no section of Scripture is more pointed, more specific, and more non-negotiable than Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3:1–21. Even though Nicodemus could not wrap his reason-driven head around these words of Jesus, Jesus states it to you clearly. Through His miracle of Baptism, God gives you a new birth from above (John 3:3). God’s miracle of Baptism is all part of His gift of grace which the Holy Spirit summarizes in Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16–17).
42. John 3:16, often called the “Gospel in a nutshell,” says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” For people in mission work who focus on John 3:16 and play down or ignore Baptism, the irony is this: John 3:16, spoken by Jesus, is only one part of the larger context of Jesus’ discussion in which He states, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Jesus repeats, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Mission and evangelism work cannot be separated from God’s miracle of Baptism. Jesus’ great commission includes, up front, Baptism: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).
43. It is very common these days for people to not be a member of a particular church. Instead, they move from this church to that church, listening to a variety of preachers and hoping to receive some kind of spiritual experience. It would therefore be appropriate for Jesus to say to many people today: “What have you come out to this church, or to this stadium, or to this arena, to receive or to see?”
44. In many cases, most people don’t distinguish genuine, Scripture-based and Christ-centered spiritual experience from an experience that they might receive from a totally secular motivational speaker. As long as they feel they have been lifted up, as long as they are convinced they feel better, this is all they desire. When the motivational speaker at the Indianapolis, Indiana, event was asked whether or not people were shortchanged by not actually receiving anything permanent, he responded: “We are going to feel good today for no reason at all.”
45. Jesus makes it clear that through His church—which He established on this earth as a type of spiritual clinic and hospital—He both diagnoses and treats your deadly and incurable disease of Sin each week. We know that Jesus does this because He says He does it, even if we receive no emotional, visible, or audible confirmation that this healing is occurring or has occurred.
God is offended when you doubt His Word or refuse to believe His promise. Read what happened to Zechariah after Gabriel came directly from the presence of God to give Zechariah a message. But Zechariah wanted proof in addition to God’s Word and promise (Luke 1:5–20).
46. A person afflicted with incurable cancer, or incurable diabetes, goes regularly to a clinic or hospital to be told of his medical/health condition. Following that, he expects to receive treatment so that his affliction, if not cured, will at least not get worse. This is precisely what happens when you go to church, where the Scriptures are proclaimed and Christ-centered treatment is available for you. The pastor not only tells you that you are “by nature” sinful and that your Sin is incurable—but, on the basis of Scripture, your pastor will also tell you the Good News of Jesus Christ—that, through His living Word and Sacraments, Jesus gives you His divine Medicine that controls your infection of the deadly power of Sin so that Sin cannot undermine your faith and destroy you spiritually.
47. Absolutely not! Christians have always delighted in and looked forward to the experience of hearing a Scripture-based, Christ-centered sermon or Bible study. These things give them forgiveness, strength, and hope for their daily struggles. Through the centuries, Christians have been thrilled to hear Christ’s Absolution spoken to them, a thrill similar to that which a cancer patient feels when his doctor says: “You are cancer free!” Although it is often in a quiet, even hushed way, Christian parents of newly baptized infants are elated that through God’s miracle of Baptism their loved one is now protected from being re-enslaved to Sin (Romans 6:3–23). The high point for many people in a church service is Holy Communion, when Jesus, through the lips of the pastor, says the words of Scripture recounting Jesus’ promise: “Take, eat; this is My body . . . Drink . . . for this is My blood of the new testament, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26–28). Each of these regularly-occurring, Scripture-based, and Christ-centered events have always brought inexpressible joy into the hearts of believers. But the difference is this: The foundation of this joy is not a mere emotional experience. The foundation of this joy is God’s promise and action. Unlike emotional experiences that are here today and gone tomorrow, in God’s promise “there is no variation, or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).
48. First, Jesus wants you to be careful about what you listen to because teachings are like seeds. Once the seeds/ideas enter your mind, they sprout, grow, and bear fruit, often taking over and controlling your mind. Second, Jesus likened teachings also to leaven, or yeast. Yeast is a living and active power or organism. Once yeast is placed into bread dough, it permeates the entire dough, just as seed-ideas permeate your entire being and eventually control all that you think and do.
49. The drawing on this page shows that doctrines preached and taught by major denominations today can be traced back to seed- ideas promoted and planted by teachers centuries ago. For instance, the key doctrine of predestination—including the grafted-in human opinion of double predestination—can be traced back to the teachings of John Calvin of 500 years ago.
50. When we add our opinions to the Spirit’s teaching, this is the same as what God warns against in Revelation 22:18. Every Christian, especially pastors, are under obligation from God to constantly remove all human opinions—especially those based on human reason—that people try to graft into God’s pure Seed of His Word (Luke 8:11).
51. In Matthew 13:24–25, the Spirit says a man went out to sow good seed. After that, Satan “sowed tares,” or weed seeds. The Scriptures clearly teach that Satan’s seeds sprouted and grew. From this you can know that the devil’s noxious seeds and teachings are alive. When they are permitted to enter your mind, they are constantly trying to take over and control your mind. Therefore, especially regarding religious and spiritual teachings, listen to Jesus: “Be careful what you listen to” (Mark 4:24).
52. In 1 John 4:4 the Spirit says, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome [the spirits not from God]; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” This means that through His miracle of Baptism, God plants His Word (Jesus) into your heart. Then, as your faith grows, Jesus fights the devil in you and all the false seeds and teachings of the devil. Just as in caring for a lawn, you need to have God’s regular “watering” of your seed of faith (1 Corinthians 3:8) by His Word and Spirit—through sermons, Bible class, and Holy Communion—so that the good seed in your heart gets stronger and forces out the bad seeds (the spiritual crabgrass of Satan). God says this can and will happen in your life.
53. Most people today think they can listen to all types of preachers and receive into their minds all kinds of religious seeds of teaching; or they can watch all types of television programs, even pornography, receiving into their mind all kinds of dangerous weed seeds, and not be affected. Most people believe that they can decide what their mind will retain and what it will reject. Jesus warns you that false teaching in sermons, or Bible studies, or even in popular religious books, are like seeds that are planted in your mind, which the Spirit describes as the soil of your heart. These seeds then sprout and grow, good and bad, all seeking to control your mind. Just as your lawn and your garden are constantly receiving weed seeds from the animal droppings and the wind, the soil of your mind is also receiving bad seeds from Satan the sower (Matthew 13:25).
54. The picture on the upper left shows Eve considering the devil’s offer, or temptation. She leaves herself open to this temptation. There should be a second picture, but it is missing because it did not happen. Immediately after Satan made his offer, Eve should have responded as Jesus does in Matthew 16:23: “Get behind Me, Satan!”
55. Eve looks pleased and excited to try the fruit that will give her the knowledge of God. The Holy Spirit says: “The woman saw . . . that it was a delight to the eyes” (Genesis 3:6).
56. As soon as you realize the devil is tempting you—even if you don’t know specific Bible passages that define or describe this temptation—immediately reject the devil. Cross yourself or make the sign of the cross. Drive him away. Quote Scripture against him as Jesus does in Matthew 4:1–11.
57. In the Garden of Eden, Satan asked Eve: “But did God really say . . . ?” Before and even during a Baptism, the devil asks, “But God didn’t really say ‘Baptism saves you,’ did He?” Each time Satan tempts you to doubt God’s promise in Baptism, simply say: “God says Baptism saves in 1 Peter 3:21.” Against the devil used also John 3:5; Ephesians 2:4–10; Titus 3:4–7.
58. When the devil uses people to say Holy Communion is only an ordinance, and merely symbolic, but has no miraculous power to forgive sins, speak to that person—and the devil through whom this person works—Matthew 26:28: “For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
59. The Christian doctrine of Absolution is not a human invention. When the devil—through other people—whispers doubt in your ears, refer them to the following: In John 20:21–22 Jesus says to His disciples and to those pastors He calls to speak on His behalf today: “Jesus therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” In Luke 10, Jesus appointed 70 to conduct His ministry. As He told those 70, and He says to those He appoints today: “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).
60. Of course, there are many preachers today who preach their own word—and not God’s Word (Jeremiah 29:8–9). However, when pastors preach from the Scriptures, the Word they preach is different from man’s word. God is speaking His living and life-giving Word through these pastors. To those through whom Satan whispers—as he did to Eve—that man’s word and God’s Word is the same, speak 1 Thessalonians 2:13 and tell Satan to “Be gone!” (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33).
61. In Romans 6:6–23 the Holy Spirit tells you that every day of your life will be a struggle against the power of Sin, and the attempt of Sin to enslave you. When you know this information from the Spirit, you are better prepared for life, similar to a secular expression: “Forewarned is forearmed.” Soldiers going into battle are much better prepared when they have at least a general idea of what to expect. By telling you ahead of time what the Christian life is about, the Spirit strengthens you and prepares you for the challenges of your daily life.
62. At the creation of the world, in the Garden of Eden, as soon as Eve gave in to Satan’s temptation (Genesis 3:6), God disciplined Adam and Eve and cursed Satan. He then also announced that from that time on, enmity—bitter battles—would always exist between Satan and Jesus, the Word, and between Satan and all Christians (Genesis 3:15).
63. As a baptized Christian you are united to Christ. Even though the devil will bruise you in your heel as you walk through life, because you are united to Christ—you are in Him and He is in you—Jesus will push back against the devil, and wound Satan on the head, for you. “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). In Christ, you will have the ultimate victory (Romans 8:37–39).
64. Through the power and teaching of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul confessed the reality of his new spiritual life, the same new spiritual reality that God gives you in His miracle of Baptism. Following his Baptism, St. Paul said: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
65. In Romans 6:3–5, the Holy Spirit explains the miracle God works inside you when, through your pastor, He baptizes you—either as a newborn or as an adult. Equally helpful for you is the Holy Spirit’s explanation of what God’s miracle of Baptism does for you—every day! After explaining what God does when He baptizes you (Romans 6:3–5), He then uses the following 18 verses to tell you the results. This is like a doctor who gives you an initial strong dose of medicine. He then gives you additional medicine and tells you how to take this medicine daily. In Baptism, God gives you His initial medicine of His living Word to knock down, stun, disable, and suppress the power of Sin. God then gives you continuing access to His living Word each day in daily devotional reading of the Scriptures and prayer based on Scripture, along with your regular Sunday treatment of His active ingredient of His living Word in His Sacraments and divine service.
Through a daily reading of Romans 6, the Holy Spirit will renew the divine Medicine God gives you in Baptism. He then provides more follow-up divine Medicine in His living Word in the Word and Sacraments. His living Word suppresses and controls the cancer of incurable Sin now living within you. With the Spirit’s teachings of Romans 6, you will better understand your daily frustrations, worries, anger, and frequent discouragement.
66. Once you are baptized, you are united to Christ (Romans 6:5). Never permit the devil to tempt you to think that God has now left you on your own. Quite the opposite is true. When, through His miracle of Baptism, God unites you to Christ, Christ lives in you and you live in Him (John 15:5). You are never alone in your struggle against Sin (John 14:18; Matthew 28:20).
67. Physicians, nurses, and mothers understand that a fever in a person, including a newborn, is a signal of an infection. The Scriptures teach that from birth we are permanently infected by Original Sin and the power of the devil and evil (Psalm 51:5). At the very beginning the Scriptures, after Adam and Eve fell into Sin in the Garden of Eden, the Scriptures also point out that God said there would be a constant, relentless, and ongoing battle of the power of the devil and Sin against Jesus and His followers—those who are spiritually reborn through His miracle of Baptism. This then means: As soon as your heavenly Father baptizes you through His miracle of Baptism, He places inside you His living Word. A spiritual battle then instantly breaks out within you, similar to a battle between an infection of invading germs and viruses and the healthy cells of your body. In your physical situation, the bad invades the good. In your spiritual situation the good, the living Word and Spirit of God, invades your bad spiritual cells you were born with (Psalm 51:5).
68. Most people in the secular world have no concept of the power of Sin. Even most Christians have no awareness that if the battle within them goes the wrong way—and the forces of evil triumph over their faith—Sin then takes over their life and thinking. Consequently, they become spiritually delusional. They are no longer able to know or to follow the will of God, or to seek the mercy of God in Christ.
The Good News for you is this: Through God’s miracle of Baptism you are united to Christ. As Jesus says, “I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20). Consequently, each time you receive the living Word in Christ-centered sermons and teachings, Holy Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper, these are all applications of God’s divine Medicine to keep your fever of Sin in check. This medication keeps Sin under control, as taught in Romans 6:6–23, so that it does not re-enslave you, causing you to become spiritually delusional, leading you to come up with all kinds of self-condemning ideas (Isaiah 65:2).
69. Psalm 32 states: “When I kept silent about my Sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.”
70. In Galatians 2:20 the Holy Spirit says: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Therefore, even though the deadly and devastating power of incurable Original Sin is working destructively within you, through His miracle of Baptism God unites you to Christ. Thus, you are in Christ and Christ is in you—as a divine Medicine working day and night to suppress and rid your body and spirit of the “fever” of Sin. “Since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you” (2 Corinthians 13:3).
71. When you are baptized, you are united to Christ (Romans 6:3–5). Then Christ lives in you and you pass the test of the Spirit: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
72. This spiritual battle, as described in Genesis 3:15 and already partially explained above, begins the very instant, the very second, you are baptized! This spiritual battle begins because the command of Christ to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) is being followed.
73. Parents are encouraged to make sure that their child’s fever does not rise too high. If the fever gets too high and too intense, the intense heat can affect the brain. The person can then no longer think clearly, and they often become delusional. In the secular world, the good news is this: With modern medicine a fever can be broken, preventing the threat of physical damage and delusional thinking.
74. A low-level physical fever may not affect your thinking. However, a fever produced by infection in your body constantly lurks, waiting for its opportunity to take over, to immobilize you physically, emotionally, and to make you think unclearly, and even to become delusional. In order to avoid an infections that bring on a fever, medical professionals urge people to eat healthy foods and to exercise regularly.
In the same way, the Scripture says that you are born with an infection of Sin. Even Christians have to live daily with a low level of spiritual “fever.” However, through a regular diet of the living Word of God, available to you in Christ-centered sermons and Bible studies, in Christ’s Absolution spoken to you through your pastor, and through regularly receiving Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion, you are eating and exercising in a God-pleasing and spiritually healthy way. When you do this, you can be sure that Christ lives and works within you to fight off all spiritual infections and to prevent any sudden rise of a spiritual fever that will cause you to become spiritually delusional and to seek help in other places than in Jesus, the Christ.
75. Most Protestant churches teach that the apostle Paul wrote of his difficulty with Sin before he became a Christian. Based on their human reasoning, they believe that after Paul was converted he no longer had to face the problem of Original Sin.
To help in understanding this, one might use the following analogy. There are some diseases for which you can use medicine to completely eradicate a disease from your body. After that, you simply take basic precautions of cleanliness and good hygiene so that you will no longer be troubled by that disease. On the other hand, there are also diseases that cannot be cured. You take medicine to control the disease, but you cannot cure the disease, such as diabetes or some cancers.
If you understand this illustration, you can understand the basic difference between the official teachings of various churches on the doctrine of Original Sin. Most churches teach that you are either not born with Original Sin as an incurable disease, or that Baptism totally removes or destroys Original Sin—and then you only have to continue to live a type of hygienic Christian life, keeping ahead of Sin and not picking up the dirty little sins of drinking, dancing, and so forth. Furthermore, even after Baptism, since you do not have an incurable spiritual disease, you do not need regularly to receive God’s antidote of His living Word (which fights against the power of Sin), including God’s preached Word, His Absolution, and His Holy Supper.
Therefore, if you understand that diseases are of different kinds—some that can be completely cured, some that can be prevented by good hygiene, some that once contracted must be contended with for life—you can better understand the differences among various church bodies in their interpretations of the Scriptural doctrine of Sin. The Scriptural doctrine is that Christians, as well as unbelievers, must contend with Sin all their lives.
76. In Romans 7:24, Paul says: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Note carefully: Paul made this confession after he was a Christian—when life should be easier and eventually everything should go downhill. But, as all Christians soon learn, life is an endless uphill battle against the power of Sin (Romans 6:6–23). Thus, when even a so-called “strong” Christian—such as St. Paul—cries out in anguish because of daily conflict, frustration, and discouragement, this lets you know that in spite of your daily frustrations with the power of Sin you are not failing. Rather, Jesus is working in you. You can then say each day of your life: “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
77. While serving as a professor of the Bible, Martin Luther had concerns about some teachings of the church of his day. He posted his concerns and invited public discussion. Luther’s widely-discussed concerns led to a rift between followers of Luther and the church leaders of that day. Eventually Luther and his followers were called by the secular leader of all of Europe to write their confession of faith. Luther’s followers did this. The picture on page 30 shows those who followed Luther reading their Scripture-based confession at a meeting in Augsburg, Germany.
78. The colored map on page 31 shows how certain populations of Europe 500 years ago were destroyed, in some places more than 50%, as a result of wars—wars generally fought for nationalism, but often involving religious convictions and doctrines.
79. The top two Scripture-based doctrines when the Lutherans read their Confession at Augsburg were (a) The doctrine of God and (b) the doctrine of Sin.
80. Scripture presents Sin as a deadly and incurable disease (Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 2:17). When this is proclaimed and taught, people then desire a medicine, if not to cure the disease of Sin, at least to control it, as the Spirit describes in Romans 6:6–23.
81. As shown on pages 24–25, even though the early Lutherans’ insistence on teaching the doctrine of Sin was not the major cause of wars, it was part of what genuine Lutherans 500 years ago were willing to die for, rather than capitulate to false teaching.
82. The most important teaching is found in Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:20), where Jesus tells you and all His followers: “[Teach] them to observe all things I have commanded you.” In the following passages, the Holy Spirit urges each of us to contend for the faith: Philippians 1:27; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 1:13–14; Jude 3.
83. Even most atheists and adherents of non-Christian religions, such as Islam, Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, realize from their own conscience that drunkenness, sexual immorality, lying, etc., are sins. However, without the teaching of the Spirit through the Word—and without the conviction created by the Spirit—no one will believe and fully embrace the Scriptural teaching that every person is infected with the deadly and incurable disease of Sin.
84. John 4 details Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. After a short discussion of who Jesus is and His offer of water to quench the woman’s deepest thirst, the Samaritan woman said: “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw” (John 4:15). As you regularly read and listen to Jesus and His teaching, working through the Word, the Spirit will also convict you of your incurable infection of deadly Sin (John 16:8). And the Spirit will also create in you a deep thirst for Jesus and His Word, as expressed in John 4:15.
85. After the Samaritan woman’s life-giving experience with Jesus, the Holy Spirit records that “the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’ They went out of the city, and were coming to Him” (John 4:28–30). “And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done’” (John 4:39). The Samaritan woman did not take a class on evangelism. She was so overcome by the Holy Spirit’s conviction of her sins and Jesus’ Words of forgiveness that she could not help but testify!
86. Acts 4 shows that, as the Spirit moved in the early Church with open demonstrations of the Spirit’s healing of body and soul, those who were affected by and witnessed the Spirit’s work said, “We cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Also, the psalmist asks of God to be “washed” by the water of His Gospel. As he asks, he also expresses confidence that God would not only clean up his old heart, but would also “create in [him[ a new heart” (Psalm 51:10). Also, the Spirit works within the psalmist’s heart the resulting conviction: “Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee” (Psalm 51:13).
87. The two key doctrines featured in this issue of GOOD NEWS are: (a) God’s teaching on the doctrine of incurable and deadly Original and (b) God’s teaching on His Medicine that He gives you to control the disease of Sin within you, a spiritual disease which continually strives to destroy your faith.
88. In Genesis 6:5, the Spirit says: “Every intent of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually.” Remarkably, even after God cleansed His creation by the Flood (Genesis 6–8) and Noah and his family came out of the ark, God still saw that “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). Jesus built on the Old Testament prophets definition of Sin by saying in Matthew 15:19 that Sin, in every form, constantly pours forth from man’s heart every hour of every day. Jesus is here describing each of us.
89. Jesus was simply saying: If you commit only one sin, this demonstrates that you are infected by the incurable disease of Sin, you are enslaved to Sin. In Romans 6:6–23, the Spirit repeats, many times the idea of slavery and the bondage to Sin and that, when God unites you to Christ in Baptism, this new Baptism power you receive through being grafted into Christ’s death and resurrection then enables you to resist being re-enslaved to Sin.
90. Through His gift of your intestines, God takes the food you put into your mouth and transforms it in order to miraculously feed and strengthen your body and mind. Through His gift of your brain, when His living Word comes into your heart, God miraculously uses His living Word to cleanse you from Sin, to heal you, to strengthen your faith, and to give you a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
91. In Romans 10:17 the Spirit says faith comes from “hearing the Word of Christ.” In Ephesians 2:8–10 the Holy Spirit says faith is a “gift” from God. In 1 Peter 1:3 and 23, the Spirit says God causes you to be reborn through His Word. The comforting message of these many sections of Scripture is that God is entirely in charge of your salvation, from beginning to end. You play no part whatsoever in your salvation. “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).