Archive for the category “Christ Hold Fast Articles”

“The Saddest Words Ever Spoken to a Sinner” and “Forgive Us Our Good Works”

Dear Friends,

This past week I had two articles appear on different websites that you might find of interest. One is “The Saddest Words Ever Spoken to a Sinner” on Christ Hold Fast and the other is “Forgive Us Our Good Words” on 1517 Legacy. Here is an intro to both of them, along with a link where you can read the rest of the article. Both websites are full of great, Christ-centered material. I encourage you to explore both of them. Thanks and, as always, God bless all of you who are such great encouragement to me as I continue to write about the grace of our Lord Jesus.

“The Saddest Words Ever Spoken to a Sinner”

Jesus said it would have been better for this man not to have been born. Shocking words, sad words. But they are not the saddest words in Scripture.

This man, Judas, said to the religious leaders that, for a pocketful of coins, he would betray his rabbi. Loveless words, sad words. But still they are not the saddest words in Scripture.

The saddest words in Scripture were not spoken by Jesus, nor by Judas Iscariot. Men who were entrusted with the holy things of God spoke them—priests who were called to offer sacrifices for sins, to teach people of Yahweh’s laws and his love. Yet when a conscience-stricken man stood before them and confessed, they told him that his sin was his own responsibility. Judas confessed, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood,” (Matt 27:4). And they replied with the saddest words ever spoken to a sinner, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And Judas saw to it himself, alright, by walking away, slipping a noose over his head, and ending his life….  Click here to continue reading

“Forgive Us Our Good Works”

If you want to be popular, get good at preaching against the world. It will win you friends. It will curry favor with the pious. I’m not talking around peccadillos; focus on mega-sins. The more popular they are in contemporary culture, the better. Good people like fist-pounding on the pulpit about the bad things that bad people do in this bad world of ours. It makes them feel better about themselves. It makes them seem more religious. And the more their religious souls are stroked, the better a preacher you’ll seem to them. Jesus himself might have had the Pharisees clapping if He’d have railed against the traitorous, money-hungry tax collectors instead of joining them for supper. What got Him in hot water was preaching against righteousness.

Preaching against righteousness is dangerous. Folks not only find it ludicrous; it’s a slap in their face. Such preaching is a frontal attack upon what everyone assumes is true. You sound as crazy as a man who refers to a beauty contest winner as a dog ugly tramp. Nobody in his right mind does that.

But somebody in his right theology does… Click here to continue reading

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What we need in our fragmented world, full of hurting people, is the love of Jesus Christ, who InfantPriestfrontcoverwelcomes home sinners with a grace that knows no bounds. My book Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, is packed with reflections that go that extra mile of grace. Again and again, they present the Christ who is crucified and risen for you. Please take a moment to check it out here. You may also be interested in my collections of hymns and poetry entitled, The Infant Priest, which you can purchase here. Both books are also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing (also on Kindle). Thank you for your prayers and support!


Grace Is Not Dead

I wrote the following article for the relaunch of the website Christ Hold Fast, which went live on Monday. You’ll find scores of great articles here, along with podcasts, music, and more. Please take a few moments to check it out. My family and I are enjoying a relaxing vacation in the woods of Tennessee this week, so I won’t be reposting on the Flying Scroll until next week. Thank you all for your ongoing encouragement and prayers. May God bless all of you in Christ!

Grace Is Not Dead

Grace is uncivilized, vulgar, rebellious. We make rules for it and it breaks them. Grace is a constant embarrassment to the prim and proper religiosity of the squeaky clean.

It doesn’t tiptoe around puddles in its shiny new shoes but slogs ankle deep through the stinking muck of the pigpen to raise up the poor souls who’ve tripped over temptation and face-planted themselves in the rotting mud.

It doesn’t hire P.I.’s to sniff out the backstories of potential recipients to ensure there’s no improprieties that might disqualify them from full acceptance, but tramps through alleys and divorce courts and rehabs and prisons to press into unworthy hands an invitation to live for free under God’s roof.

Grace doesn’t sit cross-armed behind its desk and tsk-tsk you from across the room when you blush to confess your darkest secrets, but wraps its arms around your quaking body and lets your tears and snot drench its shoulder as it whispers, “I love you. I forgive you. You are mine.”

Grace is lacking in taste and propriety. The same loving lips that kiss away the tears of a repentant whore will turn right around and kiss the lips of a humble queen. The same hands that scrub the vomit out off the clothes of a drunk will shake hands with the teetotaler. It’s never learned the difference between a shack and a mansion. Grace doesn’t know why the color of skin makes one sinner more or less in need of forgiveness than any other. Read the full article by clicking here

The Gospel According to Noah

This reflection was published yesterday on the website Christ Hold Fast

When Lamech named his newborn son Noah—which means “rest”—he said, “This one shall give us comfort from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed” (Genesis 5:29). Making what Luther calls a “pious mistake,” Lamech thinks his wife is nursing the promised seed, the new Adam who will undo the doing of Adam #1. Although Lamech missed the messianic bulls-eye, he was certainly on target in another way, for his son would indeed point forward to the life and ministry of the Christ.

Noah grew up in a world “corrupt in the sight of God” and “filled with violence” (6:11). He, however, “found grace in the eyes of the LORD . . . was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (6:8-9). Many children’s Bible Story books put it this way: “People everywhere were bad, but Noah was good.” But Noah was “good” not because he wasn’t “bad,” but because he believed in the good One whom his father had mistaken him for—the promised seed. Noah “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” because faith planted him in the apple of the LORD’s eye, the Son of the Father.

Noah was six hundred years old when he, his wife, his three sons and their wives—eight people in all—entered the ark. No doubt the neighbors thought Noah, along with his family, had lost their grip on sanity. But it would soon be those neighbors who were clinging like barnacles to the outside of the ark.

The outside of the ark. There the world was transformed into a cosmopolitan font. There the waters drowned a world of old Adams and old Eves who had not found grace in the eyes of the LORD for they feasted their eyes on nothing but the stuff of earthly life. Outside the ark, creation shifted into reverse as man and beast drowned; sun, moon, and stars became invisible; trees and dry land vanished. Back, back to Genesis 1:8 and day two of creation, when the waters above were separated from the waters below, but water, water everywhere, was all there was to see.

But, of course, that wasn’t all there was to see in Genesis 7. There was the ark. There were eight people. There were the animals. And finally, after about a year, there was a freshly picked olive leaf in the beak of Noah’s dove. Though Noah was not the new Adam, there was more than a faint echo of God’s words to our first parents when He told Noah, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (9:2). Noah may not have lived up to his father’s expectations, but this man of rest, who built an ark for the salvation of his household (Hebrews 11:7), certainly foreshadowed a Son who would live up to His Father’s expectations, the true man of rest, the new and better Noah, who built an ark for the salvation of His household, a household of which you are a member.

It was the new and better Noah, wet with Jordan’s water, upon whom the Spirit’s dove landed, marking Him the true man of rest. He is the one who finally fulfills Lamech’s messianic hopes, for He comes to fulfill all righteousness for Lamech, for Noah, for you. But His way is not a mere re-run of the old, for if Noah condemned the world (Hebrews 11:7), then Christ was condemned for the world. In the Jordan, Christ stepped into the place of—what children’s books call—“bad” people, people like us. The water that trickled off His back in the Jordan foreshadowed a greater baptism with which He was to be baptized, the baptism in which the world’s sins were poured out upon Him, in which He was flooded with divine wrath. The bad person you are, Christ became. Your pettiness, your selfishness, your the-world-be-damned-as-long-as-I’m-okay attitude—all your badness engulfed the good Son of God. The apple of the Father’s eye was so filled with your rottenness that the Father turned away from Him as if it were you.

And so it was that the new and better Noah became, on the cross, the old and unbelieving world, precisely in order that you might be pulled from the waters of death and planted within the ark of His resurrected body. For as the one just man, Noah, exited the ark after the flood, so the one just man, Christ, exited the ark of His tomb after the baptismal flood of crucifixion. And just as eight people lived through the ancient flood, so on the eighth day, Christ lived again, the new Adam who had come to undo the doing of the old Adam, and to re-genesis the world in the new creation of His Church.

The body of this new Adam is now the ark of the Church. He is the ship of salvation whose door, pried open by a soldier’s spear, still stands open. His side is open so that you can enter therein and find life. You are baptized into the ark of Christ no better than a beast; but whereas the beasts that entered Noah’s ark remained beasts, you are made a son of God upon entrance. No longer an unclean beast, you are a clean, holy, forgiven child of your heavenly Father, safe and secure in the holy ark of Christendom, the body of the new and better Noah.

Outside the ark there is only death, but within the ark of Christ’s body the Church, there is life, salvation, and hope for you. Like Noah, you have found grace in the eyes of the LORD for you have been found within that One who gives you true rest.

A version of this reflection is included in Chad’s book, Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, available from Amazon.

What’s an Anchor Doing in the Holy of Holies?

The following article was published on the website Christ Hold Fast. It’s the story of a newly composed hymn sung to a dying woman, an anchor, and the Holy of Holies. At the end of these introductory paragraphs, there is a link you can click to read the entire article. Or simply click here to begin reading at Thank you!

Some of the last words our Lord spoke were addressed to a man who stood on the precipice of eternity. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” It was no time to blabber some sentimental nonsense. No occasion for chitchat. The words to a dying man must be words pregnant with life. These were. This man, who could taste the bitterness of death, swallowed the sweetness of life in these dying words to a dying man.

Edward Mote got this. When he paid a visit to the bedside of his friend’s wife, who was staring death in the face, what would he say? He would say what the Lord had given him to say earlier that day. On the way to work, he had penned a short chorus. By day’s end, he had four stanzas written on a scrap of paper folded in his pocket. His friend liked to sing hymns to his wife to comfort her, but that evening he had misplaced his hymnal. Out of his pocket Ed pulled the scrap of paper. Into this dying woman’s ears he sang,

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

And he continued to sing until he came to these words:

When darkness veils his lovely face

I rest on his unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale

My anchor holds within the veil.

These stanzas were of such comfort to the man and his dying wife that he left a copy of the hymn for them—a hymn, written in 1834, that would wind up being one of the most beloved songs of the church.

If your words give hope to one who is dying, no matter how simple or how elegant they are, those words are poetry to the soul.

I wish every pastor, when he preaches to his flock, would look upon them as the thief on the cross, or as Edward Mote’s friend, and speak accordingly. Physical death may not befall them that day or that week, but death wears many a mask, and he comes calling in manifold ways. The death of a marriage. Death in addiction. The demise of hopes and dreams and friendships and careers. And in all these deaths, darkness veils Christ’s lovely face. When we need him most, he seems most absent. We are tossed about in the darkness, like a ship caught in a midnight storm, searching for him, for hope, for something stable…

To continue reading, please visit ChristHoldFast.

christ alone coverWhat we need in our fragmented world, full of hurting people, is the love of Jesus Christ, who InfantPriestfrontcoverwelcomes home sinners with a grace that knows no bounds. My book Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, is packed with reflections that go that extra mile of grace. Again and again, they present the Christ who is crucified and risen for you. Please take a moment to check it out here. You may also be interested in my collections of hymns and poetry entitled, The Infant Priest, which you can purchase here. Both books are also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing (also on Kindle). Thank you for your prayers and support!

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