Today’s Christian In Tomorrow’s World
Details of Trinity’s inaugural annual conference will be released shortly.
Today’s Christian In Tomorrow’s World
Details of Trinity’s inaugural annual conference will be released shortly.
God has never wanted less than all of us. The Bible has two big commands that God gives us: to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything else boils down to those.
What God wants from us: whether we find it to be a curb to bad behavior, a mirror to show us what’s wrong with us, or a guide to point out how to live, that is His Law. It doesn’t change, and it always accuses us since we’re sinners. Its best summary in the Bible is the Ten Commandments.
The Commandments are sometimes divided into two different “tables” or “tablets” because Moses was given two tablets of stone from God when he was given the original copy of the Ten Commandments that the Lord Himself wrote. The First Table is composed of the first three Commandments that especially talk about the love of God, and the Second Table is made up of the last seven Commandments that focus on the love of our neighbors. Whichever Table you might list them on, the Commandments all have a positive and a negative side:
All the evils we see in the world can be boiled down to either sin or death, either the symptoms of the disease or its obvious conclusion. By “sin” we mean every word, thought, and deed against God’s Law, His will for His creatures.
The Bible teaches that the first sin of our parents Adam and Eve has passed on to us a defect called “original sin,” a spiritual genetic disease every single human being has that always and inevitably brings us to death. Along the way to death we commit sins – often more or more cunningly the older we get. Those sins, called “actual sins” or “sins of omission and commission,” may be against the 7th Commandment or the 3rd Commandment, but they are all acts of rebellion against our Creator and symptoms of the underlying disease that’s leading us to death.
So death is not natural except for sinners. If sin could be taken away from us, then we could be saved from death. If death could be taken away from us, life would look entirely different, knowing that we had already died and didn’t have to face death anymore.
The gospel is the good news that in the death of Christ our death has been defeated, by the blood of Christ sin’s stain has been washed away, and through baptism into Christ you can die with Him now so that you might live with Him forever.
God’s Law works in three ways when we hear it or read it:
Life is not random. The Creator of all life is not Himself random and disorderly. He is a “God of order” so the life that He has made also has an order. Birds cannot become pine trees. Oceans do not turn into azaleas. Boys do not turn into girls. Women do not become men.
These realities are called the orders of creation. We can deny them and fight against them. We can say that they are old-fashioned or silly. We can make war on anyone who says that they are real or do exist. That won’t change anything. No amount of screaming will turn the bird into a pine tree. No amount of denial will change the Atlantic into an azalea. No social media post or politician’s speech will make boys into girls or women into men.
Created life, including each one of us, can either conform to its created design or push against it. When we conform our thoughts and words and deeds to God’s orders, we live a better life than when we push – vainly – against them. When we expect to get pine cones from a pine tree and to see a boy grow into a man, we find wisdom. When we expect otherwise, our foolishness leads to all kinds of destruction.
One of the best places to learn about the orders of creation is the collection of Bible passages found in the Small Catechism – also known as the Table of Duties. This puts together how and why churches, families, workplaces, and governments all should function and why they should.
If you read the Table of Duties, you’ll find that the Bible is especially clear about how each of the different parts of life – the home, the local church, the workplace, the courts, and so on – is accountable to the one true God. Even if someone is doing evil and getting away with it now, he won’t forever. Even if someone is being lazy or foolish or wicked now, he will one day answer to God for all those things. Life is a serious thing because we live it in God’s presence, whether we acknowledge that fact or not, and one day we will all surely know that we must answer to Him, however much we now deny that.
Marriage has three purposes: the procreation of children, faithfulness to one’s spouse, and the symbolizing of Christ’s marriage to His church. Marriage can therefore only be between one man and one woman since God Himself has only one Bride, the holy Christian Church, and when He instituted earthly marriage in the first times of the world, He brought together just one man, Adam, and one woman, Eve so that they should be “fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.”
Marriage cannot be between two people of the same sex or multiple people at the same time because God did not establish marriage to be that way. What He established is what we acknowledge and honor, not what our hearts might want in their worst moments. We support and protect marriage so that God’s will might be honored and the children He has given us might be protected.
No one has the right to take an innocent life. The Bible recognizes that guilty men could be punished for certain crimes with death, but no child may be punished for existing. We cannot support, vote for, much less practice abortion because we cannot support, vote for, much less practice murder. Murder is the taking of innocent life, and abortion is the taking of an innocent life that is so pointedly and cruelly without the ability to defend itself.
We are not free to be whatever we would like. We were made to be some things and not others, to be male or female, neither both at the same time nor the opposite at some time nor something else altogether. If we were free to be whatever we would like, we would be greater and more powerful than God Himself, and since we plainly are not gods, do not have such control, cannot even keep ourselves alive without His help every moment, we can scarcely become something we were not made to be. We might playact, but we cannot become other than He has made us to be.
Christians are free from the regulations and traditions of men. We do not regulate one another in things that the Bible has left free – ceremonies, times of year, the drinking or not drinking of alcohol. Christian freedom must be maintained because it means that God’s Word is supreme in all things so that wherever and whenever God’s Word is silent, we are silent. Wherever and whenever God’s Word speaks – about the evil of being drunk, not the “evil” of drinking alcohol – we must speak.
The Bible teaches two doctrines above all others and including all others: the law and the gospel. On the law you can see this section of our website. The Bible teaches the law in each book but does not teach a law that could save sinners. God’s holy law always accuses sinners.
So the Bible also teaches a way of rescue: the gospel or good news that Jesus Christ was born, suffered, died, and rose from the dead to give us life and forgiveness. There is no hope for sinful men except in Jesus Christ, His work, His death, His resurrection, but in Him we have every hope of mercy and peace from our heavenly Father. The Bible also teaches this good news in each book, and only this gospel or good news can save us from certain death and the punishment of sin in Hell.
This gospel is the heart and soul and purpose of Christ’s church and so also of Trinity Lutheran Church. In this gospel God opens to us the truth and reality of His heart and desire – to save sinners from death and Hell through the blood and resurrected life of Jesus Christ. It is the reason we are and the reason we do all that we do.
This gospel is summarized for us in the oldest of our church’s confessions – the three Ecumenical Creeds. A “creed” is something that someone or some group believes, and “ecumenical” means worldwide. Any Christian can and should believe what these three creeds – the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed – teach. You can find all three creeds here.
The oldest creed is the Apostles. It’s so old we don’t know exactly how old it is but find it used at baptisms in Rome a couple centuries after Jesus’s resurrection. We still use the Apostles Creed at baptisms and many Sundays throughout the year. It teaches the basics of who God is – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and what He has done and does to create us, to redeem us, and to make us holy so that we can live with Him forever.
The second-oldest creed is the Nicene Creed, which resolved disagreements in the church about who Jesus is and who the Holy Spirit is. It is about 1,700 years old, and we say it most Sundays and festival days at Trinity. It teaches very clearly that Jesus Christ is true God and true man and that the Holy Spirit is not some kind of power or force but the Third Person of the Holy Trinity and the One who makes us spiritually alive through the gospel.
The newest creed is the Athanasian Creed; it’s only 1,400 years old. It was written against people who believed that Jesus was not truly God in the same way His Father is – a group then called Arians but similar to modern-day Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. We say this creed once a year on Trinity Sunday in early summer because it teaches us clearly who Jesus is, what He’s done for our salvation, and what we must believe to have eternal life.
The Bible is God’s Word, sixty-six distinct books written over more than a thousand years’ time, all with some human author, all with a single divine Author, the Holy Spirit. If we are reading Paul’s letter to the Romans, we are reading the Holy Spirit’s words. If we are reading Jonah’s prayer in the belly of the fish, we are reading the Holy Spirit’s words. If we are reading Moses’s account of the world’s creation, we are reading the Holy Spirit’s words.
Since the Holy Spirit has written all these things through the human writers He chose to use, the Bible is inerrant (it has no mistakes) and infallible (it will not mislead us). Since God Himself is totally trustworthy, His Word is also totally trustworthy.
You should read the Bible the way it wants to be read: as God’s Word centering on the person and work of Jesus Christ. See the section “What is the Bible?” to understand the fact that it’s God’s Word, not man’s. Look at the gospel of Luke, chapter 24, to see how Jesus Himself read the Bible. When people were confused about what God was doing and what His Word meant, Jesus explained that the Bible centered on who He is and what He has done in His death and resurrection that the world might be saved through Him.
When you read the Bible, read as much as you can at a time. Don’t read one verse and then put it down. That’s like watching one minute of a movie per day. You’ll never understand what’s happening, and you’ll never finish it all! Here are some reading plans that will help you get more deeply into the Bible than you have before:
A confessional church is a church that clearly tells you what it believes and teaches and does. Many churches do not have a confession of faith, or if they do have a faith statement, it’s not very long or very clear. So you never know what you’re going to get, and it probably depends on who’s preaching that week.
Our church is confessional as all Lutheran churches are. Our confessions are listed here, and you can read more about them and more of them here and here. All that means is that at Trinity what you see is what you get. What we believe drives what we say and what we do, and you can see for yourself what we believe.
We need confessions because almost every church will say that it believes in Jesus and believes that the Bible is true or at least helpful. Confessions make clear what we mean when we say that so you don’t have to wonder, and they hold us accountable for what we’re doing or saying. We don’t need confessions or creeds because the Bible isn’t clear. The Bible is very clear – that’s how we can write a confession because we know what the Bible says. We need confessions because human beings aren’t very clear and can be erratic and change their minds often. Confessions hold us on course, keep us biblically grounded, and help you know what our church is all about.
God saves us from our sin, death, and Hell through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. He made atonement for our sin through the blood He shed on the cross for us, and He gave up His life for ours when He gave up His spirit at the end of His crucifixion. That message is brought to us through the preaching of the gospel, whether we hear it first when we’re very young or when we are much older, and it is that good news that alone saves us.
Since that has to do with God’s work for us and God’s message preached to us, we say that God’s salvation or rescue is entirely His doing. Theologians call that idea “monergism,” from the Greek word meaning that only one Person is doing the work. The work of saving us from everything that threatens us or terrifies us or would destroy us either today or forever is up to God and depends alone on God.
If everything depends on Him, then our salvation is all grace – a free gift, a present you don’t have to do anything to get or do anything once you get it. Our salvation is His to do and ours to enjoy eternally.
There are thousands and thousands of different beliefs and practices throughout the world that you could call “organized religion.” There are even more private beliefs and practices that people do on their own that you could also call “religious.” Are those all the same? Do they all get you to the same place?
No, they don’t because they can’t. All religions other than Christianity boil down to: do this, so that you can be saved or fixed or however they express the goal of what they believe and do. Every other religion than Christianity boils down to a religion of the law – maybe not God’s law as we read it in Scripture but some kind of command or rule. You might be using healing crystals to overcome something horrible that happened to you or washing yourself before Friday prayers in a mosque. The idea is always the same: do something so you can get something.
Christianity is the only true religion because it is the only religion of the gospel. It is not defined by what you do or don’t. It’s defined by God’s good news that everything necessary for salvation from sin and shame and death and Hell has been done and is brought to you in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. That’s the only religion you can rely on. That’s the only true religion.
Most people pray sometimes but not as much as they think they should. Prayer is not something we do to let God know what’s going on. He already knows. Prayer is something we need to do so that we can put our lives in His hands, giving Him our worries and frustrations and sadness and hopes so that we know that He is taking care of them, as He cares for all of us and loves us for the sake of His Son. We pray in His Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and know that He hears us.
Pray regularly – that means use some standard like “Brush your teeth twice a day” or “Change your oil every 5,000 miles.” Set the alarm on your phone for the same two times every day. Fold your hands and give thanks before every meal you eat. Make it a rule, set a standard, follow it, and that will make it easier to pray not only twice a day or at every meal but all the time since any time is a good time to pray.
You can follow Martin Luther’s advice for prayer here.
The pattern for all Christian prayer is set in the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray when they asked Him how to pray. You don’t have to pray only the Lord’s Prayer, but your priorities for prayer are set in the Lord’s Prayer.
Above all things, pray for God’s Name, Word, and Kingdom to be honored and extended, in your life and throughout the world. Pray first for faith and for a holy life, for people to trust in Christ for their salvation, for the church to flourish everywhere.
Then pray for yourself and your neighbors, for the things you need for this life, for forgiveness and the power to forgive others. Pray to be kept from temptations that seem too hard to withstand, and pray to be kept away from Satan and his evil work, from demons and their lies.
If you have a family, you should learn God’s Word together and pray together. Do this at least once a day to see the best growth in knowing the LORD and in blessing your lives with His peace and goodness that you’ll find through His Word.
Sit down together, maybe at a meal, read a paragraph or a chapter of the Bible, starting with the gospels, say the Apostles Creed, and pray the Lord’s Prayer. This will change your family in ways you don’t expect but which will be wonderful to see and to live.
God is not far away from us. He wants to be near us and came into this world to be Immanuel or “God with us.” There are three ways that He comes near to us in His church: Holy Baptism, the Office of the Keys, and Holy Communion.
Our church looks the way it does and worships the way it does because we believe He is actually with us here – not far away, not waiting to come down if we get worked up enough, not wishing He could be with us but unable. No, He is with us and for us and blesses us Himself here.
Coming into the Christian church happens through Holy Baptism, a sacrament or ritual connected to God’s Word that Jesus Himself set up. He told His disciples to baptize everyone in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism means “washing,” and the Bible shows us only one baptism that you need: a baptism of water and the Spirit of God Who comes to you in Baptism. That’s why we call it “Holy Baptism” because God’s Spirit comes to us and fills us as the water is poured over us and the Word of God is spoken to us by the pastor, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
If you have not yet been baptized or don’t know if you have, please email or call us as soon as you can.
Think about it this way: only sinners die. If babies did not have the spiritual disease of sin, what we call “original” or “inherited” sin, they would not die. If someone can die, he should be baptized, no matter how old he is or how much he understands. If babies can die, babies should also be baptized to receive God’s salvation from death.
Think about this, too: babies are the model for faith in the Bible. Jesus said that no one could enter God’s kingdom unless he became like a little child. Little ones are God’s model for faith. Far from not believing or not understanding, they are in fact the ones we need to imitate as we trust in God our Father. God only has children, not adults. So children, the littlest ones among us, are the model for faith and the model for every baptism.
No matter how old you are when you’re baptized, you’re baptized as God’s child, His little one for whom He cares and whom He carries in His everlasting arms.
In the church service you will see men up front (in what’s called the “chancel”) who read God’s Word, preach, and celebrate Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. Those are our pastors, and they have been trained to do those things and to do them well. All that they do is what Lutherans call the “Office of the Holy Ministry,” the duties God has given to some men in the church for the benefit of the whole church. In God’s Name they speak His Word, celebrate His sacraments, and forgive the sins confessed to them so that the church can receive God’s care through His ministers whom He has chosen.
To one another we confess our sins against one another, as Christ commanded us to do in the Lord’s Prayer and in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. Both the pastors and the Bible remind us that if we have been forgiven by God for Christ’s sake, we also forgive for Christ’s sake those who have done and said evil against us.
To the pastor we confess sins that trouble us. This is not absolutely commanded in Scripture, so it is not required of anyone. It is there for our comfort, not to burden us. If we confess a sin to the pastor, he cannot say anything about it to anyone. The sin dies in his ear. After we confess, he forgives that sin for the sake of Jesus Christ, and we are free of the burden of those sins that trouble us. You can find out more about that from the Small Catechism here.
Both keys are necessary to God’s church, which is why He gave us both of them for the ministers to use. They are also serious, as the minister must know clearly what is sin and what is not, what God says in Scripture and what He does not say. This is why we take the Office of the Holy Ministry so seriously, requiring our pastors to be well-schooled in Scripture and doctrine and to hold fast to the Bible and to our creeds and confessions in the Book of Concord.
The focus and climax of every Sunday service and every festival service at Trinity is Holy Communion, also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist or the Sacrament of the Altar. In Communion the Lord Jesus Christ Himself comes to us through His Word in His Body and His Blood. He uses the earthly elements of bread and wine to become His Body and Blood as His minister speaks His Words of Institution.
Take, eat, this is My Body.
Take, drink, this is My Blood.
You may find Internet articles calling that teaching “consubstantiation.” We don’t call it that because what we teach is not an opinion or a philosophical idea. We teach simply what Scripture says, as we do in everything else. If He says it, that settles it.
At Trinity our pastors decide who receives the Lord’s Supper according to what’s usually called “closed communion” and sometimes is called “close communion.” The two phrases mean the same thing: our pastors hold our people and everyone accountable to what our congregation believes and does. We don’t practice “open communion,” meaning anyone who shows up can take communion regardless of what he believes or how he lives, because we don’t believe Jesus’s Body and Blood should be treated as if He says to us about our faith and our life doesn’t matter much.
We practice closed communion because we love you and want you to be connected to Christ through our congregation or another faithful congregation, where a solid pastor will care for what you believe and what your life is.