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November 7, 2009

Lutheranism Scares People, Part 2

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

(Cross-posted from

No matter what people tell you, getting something for doing nothing goes against the intrinsic nature of our human core. America was founded on the idealism of rugged individualism that struggles against the handout and promotes self-determination. Even when government promises something for nothing, we know that the ’something’ really costs us a lot.

Our nature believes the same when it comes to religion.

Justification by faith alone in Jesus Christ innately goes against our internal “do something, get something” impulses. It is hard to believe that our God would declare us sinners righteous if we constantly break His Law. Yet, that is what God promises us in His Word. He has done it all to bring us to Him for eternity. He sent His Son to suffer and die for our transgressions. He sends His Holy Spirit to us to place us on the true path of faith and light. And He promises to forgive us our many sins solely based on His Son’s sacrifice at the cross.

Our collective minds cannot accept this blessed grace and mercy. It drives us back to our internal impulse to believe that we must do something to get something, even from God.

So we cling to the Law instead of the cross.

Our thoughts wrap around the belief that one must ‘do good works’ as the Law demands to prove our love for God in a sort of ‘righteous thanks’ to Him to saved us. In this ‘righteous thanks’ we very quickly lose sight of the Gospel. The Law spouts in our heart while the blessings of the Gospel are weeded. Our trust in God and His promises to us are minimized and replaced with acts of human love. And when this happens, we miss the central point of God’s love for us.

Lutheranism clarifies this religious struggle in all of our hearts. We clearly state that if we live our lives by the Law, we must be judged by the Law; but if our lives are lead by the Gospel and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, our lives are different, more fulfilled, and deeply rest on the very foundation that God each one of us and has done everything to save us from eternal damnation.

Justification is an act of God – a judicial act that declares sinner innocent because of the vicarious atonement bought by Jesus Christ at the cross. Given to us freely yet paid for by our Lord Jesus, it is imputed to us through faith by work of the Holy Spirit through the blessed means of grace, the Sacraments of the church. For what do we say about faith? We don’t buy it at Wal-Mart. We receive it at our Baptisms. Our hearts believe because of the work of God through that sacrament.

And that is what scares people.

It is like we do nothing yet get the greatest gift ever. We think we have to do something to get it; God tells us otherwise.


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