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A Look at Lutheranism

                   A Look at Lutheranism
      I must say that this was a particularly hard article for me to write because I am thankful for Martin  Luther's stand against Roman Catholicism which brought about the Reformation. I especially am in total agreement with the statement of his that declares, "“The true treasure of the church is the holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.” Luther also declared, “Not from men have I received my Gospel, but from heaven alone, through my Lord Jesus Christ.” So we see that his intentions are very much in line with God's word. What puzzles me are the things that do not revolve around Christ and the central teaching of the cross, justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. They may have the right words but the Catholics often use the right words as well. The final result appears to be that there is a whole different perception of what they mean by their walk compared to their talk. So let's just see how similar or different today's Lutheran denomination is, by searching through their beliefs and practices and comparing them with the truth's of Scripture.  
      To begin with, I've noticed that many of the Lutherans today resemble Roman Catholics so closely that  it  is hard to know that there is any difference or that there ever was a Reformation.  My old neighbor was a Lutheran married to a Catholic lady and he verified this when I first began witnessing to his wife, saying that there was little difference between the two. How can that be? Here are a few common areas: Both baptize infants for the forgiveness of sin, claiming baptism to be a sacrament. to gain entrance into the church. But Scriptures show that we become Christians when we believe in the finished work of Christ  to remove sins, "not by any righteous deeds that we have done." ( Titus 3:5)
      According to page 13 of Luther's Catechism,  Lutherans can "receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in the sacrament of Holy Communion."  However, the Bible tells us that this is simply a time when the church stops to REMEMBER what Jesus did for us upon the cross. In John 4, Jesus, in reply to the disciples remark of “Rabbi, eat,” (verse 31) said, "I have food to eat of which you do not know.” (verse 32) He clarified in John 4:34, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." Likewise only two chapters later, in John 6, Jesus said "If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” Notice how Jesus is "spiritualizing" His words? Just as He did in Chapter 4, He explains in verse John 6:63, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." Again the Gospel is about God's grace (Acts 20:24) and His gift to us (Romans 6:23), the shedding of His blood (Ephesians 1:7) that saves us, not about what we do. 
       Thirdly, we are supposed to confess our sins to God alone, never to a priest or pastor.  The Bible does not record any human being ever forgiving sin other than the Lord Jesus Christ. However, on page 12 of Luther's Catechism, that Lutheran's are told, "Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in Heaven." Just as the Catholics are mistaken, because they mis-interpret Scriptures, the Lutheran must check what Scriptures say. Yes, John 20:23 has, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But the sins of man aren't removed because a person's confession to a priest or pastor, but rather it happens when that individual places their faith in the finished work of Christ, the "born again" moment of belief. Scriptures shows us this in Ephesians 1:7, "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." Those disciples, Jesus knew, after having hung around with Him for three years with Him, would know that gospel and be able to share with everyone that they met, if they were believing in the one Gospel that saves or not.
     These are just three reasons, found in Luther's Catechism, that causes doubts in whether Lutherans know how someone actually does gets saved or not.  For instance, I had two former Lutherans tell me that there is the general lack of the "conviction of sins" in this denomination. They are much like the Catholics in  which most people think that they'll be judged according to their good deeds outweighing their bad traits. Often times if I asked a Lutheran if  they are saved, they'll answer me that they've always have been Christians. Doesn't the Bible tell us that, "Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) The point is that if they were truly a "born-again" person then how can they not know of when they had the change of heart that turns a person from sin to Salvation? 
      There is one other area that is troubling about a denomination that claims to follow Scripture, yet continues to walk in darkness. The Lutheran denomination, just as the Catholics and many other denominations, have is what is called their replacement theology. So many people teach that God turned his back on Israel and that the promises given to the Jews are now meant for the church. Granted, this isn't a salvational issue, but a simple Scripture studying shows that Israel is still in God's plans. Look what Jeremiah 31:35, 36 says "Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): “ If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD,  Then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.” We only have To look outside to see the sun and stars to know that God's plan is still true. Romans 11:2  tells us , "God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew..." and verse 25 adds, "that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. " Obviously God hasn't changed His plans for Israel. 
      In closing, much of what Lutherans say about their believing it is by faith in Christ alone, have so many areas that suggest it to be a faith plus works denomination. Now this is not meant to be a Lutheran "bashing" article, but as Scriptures encourage us, we should  "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified." (1 Corinthians 13:5) Hopefully, this article will get the people to do some reflecting and some Bible studying for themselves. Do they know that they're headed for an eternity in Hell, because of sin, without accepting God's gift done at Calvary to restore them? It's doubtful, very doubtful, despite Romans 1:20 telling us that they "are without excuse." It's time to get out God's word and get "reborn" spiritually today!