Truth and Life

Religion is on the mind of many people around the world. It has always been. Religious problems are connected with practical problems like terrorism, stewardship of natural resources, and the role of government.

Religious belief forms the core of who we are. Some think they are doing fine without religion, but it always turns out that they still believe and trust in certain things. Those things may be reason, progress, humanity, science, or something else. Martin Luther observed, “A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the whole heart.” Even an atheist trusts in something, or else why does he look both ways before crossing the street? He may not call it “God,” but even by any other name, it still gives meaning and order to his daily life. In effect, it’s his god. That’s the meaning behind the remark, “God does not believe in atheists.”

Religion and history are intertwined with one another, but there are many people who don’t have time to think about either one. For a few, the daily necessities like food, shelter, and clothing take all of their attention. But is that so for most people? We do some things by our own choice and make them a convenient excuse for not thinking about religion and history. Why would we do that? Do those topics make you uncomfortable? Inadequate? Angry? Depressed? Afraid? The best way to deal with that is to learn more.

All religions are historical in some sense, but that usually doesn’t make them compelling enough to give them your time. Most are historical in the sense that people at some point in history have believed them and accomplished things in their name. Most are also historical in that a prophet or teacher founded the religion at a certain time. These things are usually easy to check up on, but they don’t help us to see which religions may be true and which may be false.

Religions also claim things that can’t be verified, because no witnesses or testimony exists about them. Reincarnation is one example. Another is a prophecy of some event still in our future. If these kinds of things are all you know about the many religions of the world, it’s no wonder if you’d rather not give them your precious time.

But there is one religion that is historical in a different sense. This one depends on history. It depends on a thoroughly-witnessed event that took place at a certain place in a certain time. If that highly unusual event could be disproven, this religion would die instantly. But if it really happened, then it will influence everyone, forever.

Each of the four Gospels in the New Testament describes the death of Jesus in detail, and each also describes his resurrection. For an event taking place thousands of years ago, the evidence is excellent, mostly written within a generation of the event itself. It has also found support in archaeology and writings outside the Bible. By the standards used in a present-day court of law, the most reasonable conclusion is that Jesus not only lived and died, but also rose to life again. This is the event that the whole Christian faith relies upon. Without it, there is no Christianity.

It’s easy to claim that Jesus did not rise, but the evidence shows that He did. There are “Bible experts” who love to contradict it, but when the New Testament is considered alongside similar ancient writings, the question becomes a matter you can see for yourself. Did Julius Caesar and Cicero exist? The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is even better. If you haven’t considered it, you should. Then, you need to ask yourself what difference it makes to you. If you accept the evidence, you’ll need to consider many other things in light of it. There are churches and Christians who take these things seriously, ready to help you with that.

What’s Wrong with Gay Marriage?

This is not a rhetorical question, though you, dear reader, may have thought it was when you first saw the title. For anyone who needs a reminder, a rhetorical question doesn’t expect an answer. It’s a question stated for the purpose of making a point. This question deserves an answer. And there is an answer. Whether or not the answer is popular has no bearing upon whether or not it is true.

It amazes me that this question must be answered at all, because only a decade ago the answer seemed to be obvious. But one of the long trends in contemporary western civilization has been postmodernism, based on the belief that any question like this doesn’t have a single right answer. Instead, every individual person’s opinion is supposed to be equally valid and right. If that were true, civilization would be doomed to a brief existence.

What is it anyway?

We must begin with a clear understanding of the term “gay marriage.” It’s not an easy thing to define, since many passionate contributors want to help their own side win the political debate by framing it with their own vocabulary. I will try to be fair, but in the interest of full disclosure: my worldview is based upon what the Bible actually says, from beginning to end.

“Gay marriage” is shorthand among some for a legal blessing upon civilly-sanctioned domestic relationships between two people of the same sex, which give them the same legal rights that so-called “traditional marriage” gives to couples of complementary sex.

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The Five God-given Purposes of Marriage

  1. To establish a household of faith
  2. To provide a way for a man and a woman to love each other
  3. To provide a legitimate and God-pleasing outlet for sexual desire
  4. To provide for the procreation and nurturing of children
  5. To provide for the mutual care of husband and wife in the commonwealth of goods

These are fleshed out in many different places. A good reference is the Small Catechism and Explanation. As listed above, these items are found in an excellent booklet we have at church called Second Thoughts about Living Together. This booklet provides a deeper explanation about marriage, and as its title says, a number of considerations for Christians against a practice in our culture that undermines this glorious gift from God.

The Division and Order of the Ten Commandments

Here’s a question I’ve seen several times over the years, and it’s come up again recently more than once. It could be alarming or deeply troubling to some, so it’s probably worth a short explanation.

First, remember that Christian churches observe traditions of all kinds, and once a tradition is in place, it tends to stay. Traditions are a connection to the past. Those who consider the past to be important consider it important to retain traditions, too. For Lutherans, the only good reason to break with tradition is when the tradition somehow works against the gospel.

When Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism and Large Catechism in 1528-1529, the Ten Commandments were ordered according to a prevalent tradition tracing back to Bishop Augustine of Hippo, who lived about A.D. 400. He was one of the most influential church fathers in the western, Latin-speaking part of the Church. It was not the only way the Ten Commandments had been ordered, but it made sense, served the gospel, and was well known and accepted. That ordering runs like this (in my own summary form to avoid quibbling about the wording):

  1. Have no other gods.
  2. Use God’s name rightly.
  3. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  4. Honor your parents.
  5. Honor the sanctity of life.
  6. Honor marriage.
  7. Honor the property of others.
  8. Uphold the reputation of others.
  9. Don’t covet another’s estate.
  10. Don’t covet another’s living human or animal associates.

Luther also included a conclusion in the Small Catechism, which he took from the biblical text that explains the first commandment: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…”

The Lutheran Reformation was a conservative reformation. That is, Lutheran reformers sought to reform the faith and practice they had received from antiquity, retaining what was acceptable in the light of scripture, and changing only what was unacceptable. Subsequent reformers like Ulrich Zwingli followed a different approach. Generally, they were convinced that nothing in the papist Roman church was salvageable: neither any of the doctrine, nor any of the practice. Lutherans therefore refer to their work as the “radical reformation.” Their approach is reflected in the way they divided and numbered the Ten Commandments: whatever Rome was doing had to be changed. Here’s the division they used.

  1. Have no other gods.
  2. Don’t make graven images.
  3. Use God’s name rightly.
  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your parents.
  6. Honor the sanctity of life.
  7. Honor marriage.
  8. Honor the property of others.
  9. Uphold the reputation of others.
  10. Don’t covet anything.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897) says that the ordering used by the non-Lutheran Protestants comes from the Greek church father Origen, so it would represent a point of minor disagreement between Origen and Augustine, who was born 100 years after Origen died. (They were both Africans, but from different regions.) The Eastern Orthodox churches today (Greek Orthodox, etc.) seem to follow the same division of the commandments, which makes sense, since Origen had greater influence on eastern traditions.

Augustine explained his reasoning for his particular numbering scheme in a work called “Questions on Exodus,” where this was question number 71. I may be able to find an acceptable translation of it for inclusion in the comments of this post later on.

Which ordering is right? Which is wrong? Well, neither. They are both acceptable traditions, as long as they don’t change the substance of the commandments. In fact, Jewish numbering of the commandments begins with this one, Exodus 20:2 “I am the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Yet despite these differences, each tradition still numbers ten commandments, probably because of Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13, and Deuteronomy 10:4.

Far more important than the division of these commandments is their content. That’s where the Small Catechism of Dr. Luther really shines. The Hebrew text of the commandments has no inspired numbering, and everyone is using it in one way or another. But Luther’s explanation makes the correct and best use of it: to prepare the student for receiving the eternal blessings of Jesus Christ through the forgiveness of sins. Meanwhile, the commandments also instruct the Christian in righteousness, but the main purpose is always Christ, as Galatians 3:24 says, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

By explaining each commandment with the words “We should fear and love God [so that we…],” Luther shows how the Ten Commandments are a summary of God’s moral law, which goes much deeper than most people realize. One might say that his explanation sees the Ten Commandments through the lens of the cross. They are included first in the Catechism because they prepare the student for hearing, understanding, and believing the Gospel, which is summarized in the very next part of the Catechism: the Apostles’ Creed.

Some Thoughts on the Creation Debate

On Tuesday of this week, we had a group of people here at Bethany to watch the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye about whether biblical creation is a valid scientific model of origins. Here are some thoughts about what we saw:

  • Both Ken Ham and Bill Nye ended the debate with the same position in which they started the debate. Ham is a creationist and Nye is an evolutionist.

  • Ken Ham is willing to call both evolutionists and creationists “scientists” in the same sense, but Bill Nye is reluctant to call creationists “scientists,” convinced by his own reason that anyone who believes in creation is incapable of scientific research or engineering, and that unless children learn to be evolutionists, America will fall behind other nations in scientific development.

  • Ken Ham notes a distinction between observational science and a historic kind of science. In observational science, it is possible to apply the scientific method, make predictions, test hypotheses, and make practical applications. Anyone can participate equally in observational science, whether they are creationists or evolutionists. When looking at pre-historic origins, however, everyone is limited to formulating theoretical models from the same evidence, but no conclusive tests can be made to verify whether one model is more likely true than another. The only source of better information would be the witness of someone who was actually present through that prehistoric time. Ken Ham therefore relies upon the information provided by God in the Bible.

  • Bill Nye denies the distinction made by Ken Ham, and denies that the Bible is credible, on the basis of what his own reason tells him. For example, “Miracles are impossible. The Bible describes miracles, therefore the Bible is false.” Bill Nye’s worldview supporting his use of reason is known as naturalism or materialism, and is believed by many people.

  • There are things in Bill Nye’s model of origins that he does not understand or know, like “What existed before the Big Bang?” Ken Ham knows some of those things from the revelation of God (who has always existed) in the Bible.

  • From his description and use of it, Bill Nye does not seem to know much about the Bible, its origin, its transmission, or its contents. His view of science and his naturalistic worldview would dissuade him from learning about it. On the other hand, Ken Ham knows a lot about the scientific theories at the heart of Bill Nye’s worldview. The creationist scientists mentioned by Ken Ham are also highly accomplished in their scientific fields.

  • Bill Nye repeatedly referred to the time of the Flood as 4,000 years ago, but that only seems accurate on his usual scale of millions of years. Abraham (Genesis 12) lived 4,000 years ago, and that was several long generations after the Flood. Furthermore, Ken Ham referred to adding up the lifespans of the generations before the Flood to arrive at the total age of the Earth, but the chapters describing those lifespans are not necessarily written for the purpose of giving a mathematical sum. While the numbers of years are certainly correct there, we know that other writers of biblical genealogies have skipped generations, in order to fulfil another purpose. For example, see Matthew 1:17. The purpose of the pre-Flood genealogy of Noah was to record the names of those faithful patriarchs who passed their faith on to future generations within their own family. So the numbers thrown around during the debate as a supposed biblical age of the Earth, or the time since the Flood, were not necessarily accurate. However, the error in those numbers would be in thousands of years, not millions.

We saw an excellent illustration of Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Ken Ham knows this, but only because he believes what the Bible says. Bill Nye cannot know this, because he rejects what the Bible says. Jesus described a similar problem when He explained to His disciples why He was teaching in parables (Luke 8:10), “that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.'” St. Paul also described this in Romans 1:20-21, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Christians cannot convince someone like Bill Nye that the Bible is true by simply making an argument or debate with him. That was not Ken Ham’s purpose. Rather, the only way someone can know the true origin of the world is to believe what God says. This faith is completely a gift of God, which He provides through the message of the Gospel. Now, all of us who care about Bill Nye and the truth have the task of praying that God would use the Gospel message to work a conversion in his heart. Ken Ham spoke that message more than once during the debate, and it’s also available to Bill Nye in many other places. God intervened in the life of Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted the Church terribly, turning him into the man we know as St. Paul. God can also convert Bill Nye, or any other non-Christian evolutionist.

We should also pray that God would correct and strengthen the faith of those Christians who are tempted to disbelieve the Bible because of the worldly pressure exerted by people like Bill Nye. There are Christian evolutionists in the world, but their Christian faith is constantly under attack within their own hearts by the naturalistic, materialistic worldview of evolution.

Finally, we should imitate our merciful God as we show love to our neighbors, many of whom are confused and misled by teachings like evolution. Since the public school system is unable to allow creationism equal footing with evolution, it would be a good thing for us to teach as many children as possible to understand the world in a biblical way. That’s one of the strong reasons why it would be a wonderful thing if God were to bless Bethany with a Christian day school.

Matins for Everyone

One of the Bible classes planned for this Fall is on Lutheran liturgy, including services like Matins, which belongs to the Prayer Offices. Unlike the Divine Service, Matins is meant to be used on any day, even every day when it’s possible. It may seem strange for a congregation to gather at church every morning, but Matins doesn’t require that. The Prayer Offices like Matins are very adaptable, and can easily be used at home, or wherever you may be in the morning.

Certainly, the interests of the perishing world don’t include a daily break to pray, hear God’s Word, and join with fellow Christians, much less several breaks in the same day. But as Christians, we can remind ourselves of the deep mercy of God that He shows us day in and day out, all based upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the guilt of the whole world. He has not made it mandatory for us to stop now and then for worship. He’s made it possible, and He’s incorporated us by faith into the great body of worshipping saints in both heaven and earth. So why not re-center your mornings with a little Matins?

To help make it easier for us all to use Matins whenever we have the opportunity, I’ve put together a simple worship folder on a single sheet of folded paper that includes most of what’s found in the Hymnary on page 109 and following. The difference is that this booklet shows you which parts you should omit when you are using Matins in a less formal setting. It will still help to have your Bible handy, or even a Hymnary (especially if you want to sing something). The booklets will be available at each church, or upon request.

We will use a very simplified order of Matins for the Sunday School opening at Bethany for both children and adults this year. The whole thing should take 10 minutes, at the most.

You can view the booklet in a PDF reader by downloading it from this web site. If you print the two pages back-to-back, in the right orientation, you will have the whole thing on your own!

Classes Coming Up

I’ve planned some classes for our churches through the coming school year, and many of them are ready to go right now. We’ve been following the curriculum from Northwestern Publishing House called Getting Into God’s Word for a couple of years now. We’ve seen units on Bible Study Skills , the Psalms, Old Testament Proclaimers, and Major Prophets, as well as the Messianic (New Testament) Age and the book of Revelation. That’s a lot! It’s about half of the whole curriculum. So we’re going to take a break for a little while, for a change of pace.

On the last Sunday in August, Concordia will begin watching the DVD presentation on “Engaging Others with Jesus,” including a potluck lunch. The same presentation will be studied at Bethany on Sundays, beginning on September 8. There will be time for discussion of each segment. The presentation covers the same sessions that were attended by Pastor, Rich and Kathy Kahler, and Coby and Patty Bailey at the Circuit 12 Evangelism Workshop back in May. It was an edifying and inspiring conference, and should be enjoyable and beneficial for any of our members.

At Bethany, our midweek class will begin on Tuesday, September 3 at 7 PM. We’ll start with a 3-part series on the subject of evangelism, with the focus on Jesus. The titles are “Christ for Us,” “Christ through Us,” and “Christ in Us.” Pastor Jacobsen adapted this series from one written this year by Pastor Aaron Hamilton in Utah.

Sunday classes at Bethany will switch back to a study of the biblical teachings in the Large Catechism on October 20. Meanwhile, the midweek class will resume after a short break on October 15 with a new 6-part series written by Pastor Jacobsen on Lutheran worship. This will expand upon the DVD class we have used in the past by Dr. Arthur Just entitled Liturgy, as we consider the history and spiritual foundation of the Lutheran worship practices found not only at church, but also in the home.

On November 26, the Bethany mid-week class will immediately embark upon a 4-part series covering the intertestamental period, the span of about 400 years between the last book written in the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament period described in Matthew and Luke. We will pull most of our information from the books of the Apocrypha entitled I and II Maccabees. All our Bible classes will take a break for Christmas.

After the Christmas season, on January 7, Bethany’s mid-week class will start a 6-part series based upon the synod convention essay from last June. The essay is called “Engaging Families with Jesus,” and our class is called “Engaging Jesus at Home.” We will apply some of the things we will have learned from our previous class on Lutheran worship.

In the penitential season of Lent, we will have another 6-part series on Christian Meditation. There is much for us all to learn about this practice, and it shouldn’t be surprising if we come away with a new appreciation for God’s Word, and the comfort of the Gospel.

Finally, we will return to the Getting Into God’s Word series on April 22, the Tuesday following Easter, with a 7-part series on the book of Ephesians.

Throughout this time, our calendar also includes a Confessing Jesus class at Bethany, to be held with a light lunch right after church on Sunday. Unlike last year, the schedule this year calls for holding the class every other week, instead of every week. We will pick that up where we left off, in the 4th article of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession. After that we will return to the Formula of Concord at the end of the book.

All of the classes mentioned above are open to all of our members and our guests, including confirmed youth. If our youth have another interest, please speak to Pastor Jacobsen so that we can arrange a class that will serve their need. The Mary Martha Circle at Bethany will meet monthly, with part of the meeting devoted to a study aimed at spiritual growth. We will have an opportunity to read through and discuss a newly-translated and published biography of Katherine Luther, the wife of Martin Luther. There is a series of related studies prepared and ready to go, together with a reading schedule. Any ladies who may wish to begin reading now can obtain a copy of the book from Pastor.

If the members of Concordia would like to have any of these classes offered in Hood River or Klickitat, it can be arranged. An average attendance of at least three people would be helpful. Of course, any Concordia members are also welcome at the classes to be held at Bethany.

I hope you’re looking forward to the coming season of Bible studies as much as I am!

–Pastor Jacobsen

False Religion Pretending to be Science

In a time when there is supposedly a high wall separating church and state, government and religion, this article from American Thinker points out that it’s not true of every faith. In fact, this false religion of Scientism is already well connected with American civil religion, which is another serious matter for Christians in our society.

In other words, many of our politicians are surrendering themselves to scientism. Scientism is not science. It is an ideology that is often confused with science. It is, rather, an abuse of the scientific method and scientific authority.

Scientism can also be classified as a religion. It is a religion with many denominations: Darwinism, environmentalism, feminism, hedonism, humanism, Marxism, socialism, and so on. How many Americans now find their fulfillment and purpose in these movements? They celebrate Earth Day and Darwin Day. They boldly assert, “Science is my Savior.”

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A Savior for the Whole World

A recent article in The Dalles Chronicle was about one man’s experience visiting a miracle worker in Brazil whom people call “John of God.” The man in question ended the article with an amazed approval of the miracle worker, emphasizing how John of God accepts people of all religious points of view. I suppose he would have to be accepting, since he mixes several differing points of view into his own miracle working. John of God is nominally Roman Catholic, using the Lord’s Prayer and the Roman Catholic prayer to the mother of Jesus called the Hail Mary. Yet the meditation he teaches, and at least some of the techniques he uses seem to have roots in Hinduism. I doubt that John of God would accept the point of view of those who would gladly kill him for supposedly religious reasons, like Al Qaida. But when I saw this article’s emphasis on how wonderful it was that John of God accepted people of every religious idea, I read it as a veiled attack on historic Christianity, which does not accept differing points of view.

Our society tends to be pluralistic when it comes to religion. The politically-correct standard was once tolerance of opposing viewpoints, but now the standard is acceptance. When a person accepts the position of others in contradiction to his own religion, he becomes something like a convert to the opposing faith. The Israelites before the Babylonian Captivity, for example, made a habit of worshipping Baal and other Canaanite gods, while claiming to continue worshipping the God of Abraham. That’s a pluralistic approach to religion. In fact, it’s about the same thing as syncretism, which holds mutually contradictory faiths as being true, despite the contradictions. Those who have read Orwell’s 1984 will be reminded of the word he coined for this kind of self-contradiction: “doublethink.”

Those who wish to remain faithful to the God of Abraham, whom we know better as the Triune God, are unable to participate in this kind of pluralism. We cannot accept the opinions or beliefs of others when they contradict the teachings of the Bible. It’s not a notion we’ve invented ourselves. Rather, it comes straight from Jesus Christ and His apostles, not to mention the prophets of the Old Testament (Matthew 7:15, Mark 13:22). So we are conscience-bound to take a stand that will be quite unpopular in our world. Because of that, Bible-believing Christians are not politically correct, and we are not well-loved by the world.

You may have noticed that I have to qualify the word “Christian” as “Bible-believing” and “Christianity” as “historic Christianity.” The reason is that many who claim the name “Christian” have accomodated themselves to the political correctness, pluralism and syncretism of this world. The Enemy uses this to paint faithful Christians as irrational, extremist, and even hateful or dangerous. For example, another news story breaking this week says that the Christian owners of the privately-owned national chain store Hobby Lobby intend to disobey the federal government’s mandate to provide a health insurance policy for their employees that includes abortifacient drugs. The Enemy uses stories like this to convince our neighbors that conscientious Christians are not good for our society, but accomodating Christians are more enlightened. Churches like ours are painted as overly zealous and irrational, and the fact that we exclude contradictory teaching is supposed proof of our “hate.”

But we are in the season of Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of a Savior for the whole world. Soon we will also celebrate Epiphany, based upon the Gospel lesson of those gentile Magi who visited the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. The great truth of Epiphany is that Jesus is not an exclusive Savior in the sense that He refused salvation for the Gentiles. He saves them, and that was God’s plan from the start. Jesus is the Savior of both Jews and Gentiles. But He’s also the Savior of both Lutherans and Catholics, of both Hindus and Moslems. He doesn’t exclude anyone on the basis of their family tree, or even their sins. The only way in which He is exclusive is that truth summarized by Peter in Acts 4:12 (NKJV):

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

No matter what your religion may be, no matter what your family background or heritage, no matter what sins you may have committed, Jesus is the Savior for you. What really tweaks the world is that He is the only Savior that Christians acknowledge, because He is the only Savior recognized by the true God. While He is perfectly willing to save Hindus, Moslems, and even Atheists alongside lifelong Christians, Jesus requires us to repent of all our false beliefs and sins, and trust in Him alone. In other words, we must be converted, become (conscientious, historic) Christians, and rely upon Jesus alone.

So in these seasons of Christmas and Epiphany, keep this happy message in mind for those you meet: Jesus is their Savior, too! Perhaps they won’t appreciate that just yet, but you won’t know until you try. Maybe the power of God’s Word will work His will in some of them, that they find comfort in the certainty that God loves them, too.

The Sabbath Day

We received an anonymous postcard at Concordia containing only a few hand-written Bible references. They all relate to the institution of the Sabbath Day, or the Day of Rest among the people of Israel. Since there is no way to communicate directly with the sender of this postcard, I will post a response here in the hope that it will be found.

God commanded the Israelites to observe the Sabbath Day in the Ten Commandments, and connected this commandment with the order of Creation. God Himself rested on the seventh day, and so He set it apart (sanctified it) for this special use.

The commandment regarding the Sabbath was given in the context of the Ten Commandments, which were part of the covenant that God established with Israel. The Ten Commandments were also a summary of the moral law, written in paradise upon the heart of man, before the Fall into sin. However, the covenant included more than the moral law. There were also ceremonial (worship) laws and civil laws for Israel to follow. Some of them were replaced during the 1,450 years between the Exodus and the birth of the Messiah, because the civil arrangement of the Israelites changed dramatically through that period. Even the ceremonial laws were not always implemented rigorously. In fact, it seems they were rarely kept according to God’s original commands.

While the Ten Commandments summarize moral law, the commandment about the Sabbath Day is a little different. In addition to moral law, it also relates to the specific worship practices that God wanted the Israelites to follow. It was not cancelled in New Testament times by anyone. Rather, it was fulfilled along with the rest of the commandments by Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus have both forgiveness of their sins and righteousness in God’s sight, including the righteousness that Jesus earned by keeping the Sabbath. These are gifts from God, not a result of our own efforts. They come through faith, not by our own works of righteousness.

For God’s people in these New Testament times, the Ten Commandments are still helpful. Inasmuch as they summarize the moral law for us, they tell us how God would have all people live at all times. So we teach them all as binding upon Christians today, though not as a condition for obtaining salvation.

With regard to the Sabbath Day, we follow the word of God as written by St. Paul in Colossians 2:16-17, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” We do not object to anyone observing the Sabbath, but we do object to the imposition of this observance as a condition for salvation. Consider that this question was part of the issue before the apostolic council in Acts 15, but they did not ask Gentile Christians to observe the Sabbath.

A fuller explanation of our position on this may be found in the [Lutheran Confessions][lc], especially the Large Catechism on the [Third Commandment][tc]. Please consider that as having been repeated here. All of the Bible passages cited on the postcard we received are in harmony with the Lutheran position on the Sabbath Day.