Theology for all!

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Sites I Like

Hey Team! It's ya boy Cam Swanson, right here on the Wittenberg Project! Check us out on YouTubeWittenberg Project YouTube, and feel free to email us here: Just wanted to highlight some websites that I utilize. Check em' out!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Thoughts on Sin - Rev Irvin Stapf, Christ Lutheran AALC

Irvin F. Stapf, Jr.
Pastor Emeritus
Christ Lutheran Church, TAALC

Germantown, Md.  

Sin - now there is an interesting word to start a mid-week morning. But anyone who has read even parts of the Bible know the word and have some thoughts about what sin is. Sin calls attention to laws or values established by God. We don't relate it to civil laws. We don't say we have sinned when we go over a speed limit regulating traffic, or an error we've made in paying our taxes. No, to sin speaks of breaking a commandment we believe has been established by Almighty God. Even then we try to soften the word, just as we do with speed limits, by saying that what we did really isn't so bad, it was in the tolerance allowed by the speed camera's setting.

There is a lot more to sin than that. Sin is certainly a matter of violating the Ten Commandments, something we do that is against God's will. But sin is even more than that. Sin is part of our nature. In our Lutheran worship service the pastor begin by declaring, "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  The pastor then invites the congregation to take a few minutes in silent prayer to confess the individual sins our  Lord brings to mind. These are our individual known sins that we've committed against God during the past week.
We continue our prayer of confession saying, "Most Merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against you by thought, word, and deed,  by what we have done and what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves." This is the second part of what sin is all about. It is who we are. It is our fallen nature. In the presence of Almighty God we can't just sluff this off with some excuses about everybody being the same, and anyhow God is loving and forgiving. Yes, both are true, but they are not a "get out of jail free" card. 
The words that follow in our prayer of confession hit me very hard when I have to say them. I understand the reality of their truth. "We justly deserve your present and eternal punishment." Sin is what I do, and also part of my nature in rebellion against my Creator and Lord. I cannot escape this with any excuses or self-justifications. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" St. Paul wrote in Romans 3:23. It was St. John who declared "if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not is us."(I John1:8)  It is the truth that we have inherited our sinful nature from the rebellion of our first parents. (Genesis 3) This rebellion from God explains so much of what we see continually in the evils of the world around us. There is no other ultimate explanation and there is nothing mankind can do about it.
However, our Sunday's liturgical confession doesn't stop with our deserving eternal punishment. We appeal to the mercy of our God.  "For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will nd walk in your ways to the glory of your holy name. Amen."
It is then that we are able to hear from our pastor God's gracious words. "Almighty God in his mercy has given his Son to die for you and for his sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I declare unto you the entire forgiveness of all of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
There is no sluffing off. No self justification. No excuses. No confessing one little sin and being done with it. We fall humbly before the mercy of Almighty God and come to the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ where alone we are assured that our just condemnation before God has been paid. Our debt is satisfied. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."(Romans 8:1) What else can we say to that but "Thanks be to God."
Yes, we will sin again. Yes, our human nature is to rebel against our Creator. But because of the depth of God's love He has provided the way for us to come to Him in the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The sentence of eternal separation has ben satisfied. We are able to serve God and others in the love of God given to us in Jesus Christ. AMEN.  
(Words we can trust: Jeremiah 18:1-6; 29:11; 31:3,
                  & above all Romans 8:38-39)

Friday, January 12, 2024

Back At It!

 Greetings in 2024!! 

     I'm excited to announce that I'll be back blogging, podcasting and producing content for the Wittenberg Project blog and podcast. Stay tuned!