Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thoughts of Heaven

In Ligon Duncan's Book Fear Not - Death and the Afterlife from a Christian Perspective, he has several good quotes about the Christian and Heaven. Here are a few:

As a believer's life is very different from an unbeliever's life, so also a believer's death is very different from an unbeliever's death. The unbeliever prefers Heaven over Hell; the believer prefers Heaven over this earth. The unbeliever prefers Heaven only over Hell because he cannot imagine anything more blessed than this life. The believer prefers Heaven over earth, because the believer cannot imagine anything more blessed than life with God. - Unknown Source

There is a great deal of difference between the desires of Heaven in a sanctified man and in an unsanctified one. The believer prizes Heaven above earth, and had rather be with God than here, though death stands in the way and may possibly have harder thoughts from him. But for the ungodly, there is nothing that seems more desirable than this world, and therefore he only chooses Heaven over Hell, but not over earth; and therefore shall not have it upon such a choice - Richard Baxter

Baxter is saying that nobody in his right mind would choose Hell. If they are asked, then they'll always say, "Oh, yes, heaven over hell, please!" In contrast, the mark of a Christian approaching death is a desire for heaven over earth, heaven over this life. The Christian desires Jesus over the things that are most precious in this world, and not simply an existence that is more attractive than the torments of an eternity in Hell. - Ligon Duncan

All men must die, but as men's lives are very different, so their account in death is, also. To an ungodly man, death is loss, the greatest loss; but to a believer, it is gain, the greatest gain. - Thomas Boston

I am so in love with His love that if He(Christ) were not in Heaven, I would not want to go there. - Samuel Rutherford

The same thought from different men. Do you treasure Christ like this?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What does the Father Seek?

In Terry Johnson's Book, Reformed Worship, he quotes two individuals concerning worship. This first quote deals with comments about John 4:23:
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." NASB

Listen to how Johnson deals with this verse:

Thus does Jesus sum up the saving activity of the Father. What is the Father doing through the gospel? What is He doing through his Son? What is the point of the incarnation, the atonement, and the whole of redemption? The Father is seeking worshipers! What an unusual and unanticipated way of speaking of such things. Yet there it is. Robert G. Rayburn points out that, "Nowhere in all the Scriptures do we read of God's seeking anything else from the child of God." The Bible does not tell us that God seeks witnesses, servants, or contributors. What He seeks is worshipers. Rayburn continues, "it is not without real significance that the only time in the Scriptures when the word 'seek' is used of God's activity is in connection with seeking true worshipers.' There is a true sense in which worship is what the Christian gospel is all about.

When you think about it, isn't that the main complaint God had against the nation of Israel. God sought right worship from the people, but they kept falling into false worship and false gods. Even in John 4, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that the Samaritans are not worshiping rightly. God is seeking true worshipers.

Secondly, Johnson quotes John Piper concerning the relationship of worship and missions. He writes:
This is what Christian mission, the Christian life, and Christian worship are all about. John Piper summarizes our point well, 'Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exist because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.' Worship is our ultimate priority.

So when someone tries to convince us that worship is secondary to things like evangelism, missions, or discipleship, we indeed should remember that worship matters. It is eternal. And it is worshipers that alone the Father seeks. Let us worship God rightly according to His word.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Don't Be Afraid - Be Very Afraid!

In Mark 4:35-41, we read the story of how Jesus calms the wind and sea during a trip across the Sea of Galilee after a day of teaching. Here it is in the NASB:

On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

A few things to notice.
  1. There were other boats around him, not just the one he and the disciples were in. So there were more witnesses to this event that we don't normally hear about when this story is told.
  2. Also notice Jesus' comments to the disciples after He calms the wind and the sea, "Why are you afraid?" Jesus tells the disciples that they should not be fearful, but have faith that He has everything under control.
  3. Notice the response of the disciples after this comment by Jesus to them, "They became very much afraid." The words of Jesus did not remove their fear, but his actions and words made them more afraid. Why? Because they had never seen a man who was able to command the wind and the sea. This was more to be feared than the storm.
This theme is throughout the Bible. Proverbs contains 14 verses dealing with the fear of the Lord such as Proverbs 9:10, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." And Luke 12:5 tells us this, "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!" The fear of God is a healthy thing. One commentator puts it like this:

The fear of God may well include a recognition of the futility of human opposition to the divine, especially for those who are God's enemies, but for those who follow God, fear grows from the respect and honour of which God is worthy as God.

We all should come to the point of seeing the futility of opposing our Sovereign Creator God who sustains and directs all things by the power of His word. For the unbeliever this should be one of terror and dread once they catch a vision of the reality of their position (just read some Puritan sermons such as Jonathan Edwards). However, for the believer, this fear becomes one of reverence, awe, respect, honor and worship to the one who has saved us from His wrath through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. He is worthy, He is Holy, and He alone should be feared by the Christian. Let us listen once again to the words of our Lord to the apostle John on the Island of Patmos:

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18)

For the Christian, to fear Christ is everlasting joy and hope beyond our wildest imagination. So, do not be afraid - be very afraid.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Expressions of Saving Faith

In James Durham's collection of sermons on Isaiah 53, he has one sermon in which he discusses the expressions of saving faith which the Bible uses. I thought these were of interest and worth meditating upon. They are as follows:
  1. Believing Christ (Acts 16:31)
  2. Coming to Christ (Matthew 11:28; John 6:35)
  3. Receiving Christ (John 1:12)
  4. Apprehending or taking hold of Christ (Philippians 3:12; Hebrews 6:16; Isaiah 56:3)
  5. Casting yourself or resting on Christ (Psalm 55:22; Psalm 37:5,7)
  6. Submitting to Christ (Romans 10:2)
  7. Hiding in Christ (Proverbs 8:10; Philippians 3:9; Isaiah 23:26)
  8. Yielding to Christ (2 Chronicles 30:8)
  9. Opening the heart to Christ (Acts 16:14)
  10. Marrying Christ ( Ephesians 5:22-33)
  11. Buying (Isaiah 55:1)
  12. Cleaving or inclining to Christ (John 23:8; Acts 11:23; Isaiah 55:2-3)
  13. Committing to Christ (Psalm 37:5; 2 Timothy 1:12)
This is quite a list and is definitely not exhaustive. I wonder if there is a book somewhere that explores these expressions of saving faith in more detail? If you happen to find one, let me know.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Apostasy in a Generation

In the transfer of the nation of Israel from Egypt to the promise land, we count only 3 generations. The first generation that came out of Egypt died out during the wilderness wandering because of their unbelief in taking the land the first time. The second generation died out after taking the land. Then we have the third generation which came to be after the people had taken the land and now controlled it. Of this third generation, we read in Judges 2:10, the following:

All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel (NASB).

It really is amazing what this verse says. The previous two generations were exposed to the awesome works of God in delivering them from Egypt, providing for their every need, and going before them to defeat peoples who were more powerful than them in taking the land. Without a doubt, these first two generations had many failures, yet God continued to work in and through them to keep His promises to them. Yet, just one generation after entering the land, we read that these did not know the Lord. And further, they did not know the works that the Lord had done for Israel. I must ask, how did that happen?

Did the previous generation fail to tell them of the wonders and works of God in redeeming them? God had commanded the earlier generations over and over again to make sure that coming generations were to be instructed in who God was and what He had done for this people. This is clear in the words of the Shema:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:4-9, NASB)

This second generation appears to have failed in this task as evident in verse 10. We also see this by the cyclic turning from God throughout the book of Judges. Should we be shocked at this? How long do we think it takes for a new generation to turn away from the truth of God and His ways? I often think of the state of England where only 200 years ago they may have been called the leading fortress of Christianity in terms of faith, practice and missions. Yet today some are saying that Christianity is dead in Britain. We must take this to heart. If we do not teach the truths of God's word to this generation, then it may not be long before they forget the Lord and the work He has done for His people. It will not happen by osmosis. It will only happen when we obey God and teach them. Concerning this, D. A. Carson writes:
Here is a sober lesson. Even after times of spectacular revival, reformation, or covenantal renewal, the people of God are never more than a generation or two from infidelity, unbelief, massive idolatry, disobedience, and wrath. God help us.

I too agree. May God help us in this task.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

God's Promises

In Joshua 21:43-45, we read this:

So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. (NASB)

God had kept His promise to the patriarchs, the children of Abraham now possessed and lived in all the land that God had promised. God had kept His word. Not only did God give the land to the people, this passage tells us that not one of the promises he made to Israel failed, but all of them had come to pass. Every promise he made came true.

How hard it should be for any human to make a promise. The reason being that we can't control all events around us to make sure the promise we make will come to pass. In fact, we can't control our next breath or the next beat of our heart. But God can make promises to His people because He controls all things. My pastor said in his sermon this Sunday about taking what Paul refers to as a "trustworthy statement" "to the bank." Why can we guarantee the promises of the Bible? Why are the promises of the Bible, trustworthy statements? We can truly trust every promise of God that He makes for He alone has the power to make sure it happens. If He promises it, you can bet on it. It will happen. Charles Spurgeon has a wonderful quote on the control or sovereignty that God has over every atom in the universe:

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit as well as the sun in the heavens—that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphis over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche. He that believes in a God must believe this truth. There is no standing-point between this and atheism. There is no half way between a mighty God that worketh all things by the sovereign counsel of his will and no God at all. A God that cannot do as he pleases—a God whose will is frustrated, is not a God, and cannot be a God. I could not believe in such a God as that.

God controls every atom, so every promise will come true. Read your Bible and see the hundreds of promises God makes to His people. If you are a believer, they are sure because He has the power to see it through. Think for example of all the promises in Romans 8. I really like the verse Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things" Paul tells us that if God has given His own Son for us, he will most certainly give us all things. What an amazing statement.

What is also amazing is that God's faithfulness to His promises is secure outside of our ability to be faithful to Him. Though we have been regenerated by the Spirit of God, we are still sinners, and we still fail. Is our hope in our ability to obey? Thank God it is not! Our hope is in the promises of God that all who put their trust in the work of Jesus Christ as their substitute will be forgiven of sin and have eternal peace with God. Our hope is outside of ourselves - it is in the hands and promise of another. Will we trust him to keep His word? Do we believe that He is faithful and able to keep His word? Let us not be like the first generation of freed Israelites who did not enter the promised land because they "were not able to enter because of unbelief" Hebrews 3:19. Let us hope in Christ alone. That is our only assurance because only "He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" Hebrews 7:25.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

God's Appointments for Spurgeon and Owen

One of the greatest Christian preachers of all time and one of the greatest Christian theologians of all time have similar conversion experiences. Read below about these two men. First, let us read of Charles Spurgeon from his autobiography:
I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—


He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus—”My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” said he, in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ “Then the good man followed up his text in this way:—”Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I as-cend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!” When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and at that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him.

Now read of what some consider the conversion, or at least the time he came to assurance, of John Owen as told by John Piper:

Owen was a convinced Calvinist with large doctrinal knowledge, but he lacked the sense of the reality of his own salvation. That sense of personal reality in all that he wrote was going to make all the difference in the world for Owen in the years to come. So what happened one Sunday in 1642 is very important.

When Owen was 26 years old he went with his cousin to hear the famous Presbyterian, Edmund Calamy at St. Mary's Church Aldermanbury. But it turned out Calamy could not preach and a country preacher took his place. Owen's cousin wanted to leave. But something held Owen to his seat. The simple preacher took as his text Matthew 8:26, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" It was God's appointed word and appointed time for Owen's awakening. His doubts and fears and worries as to whether he was truly born anew by the Holy Spirit were gone. He felt himself liberated and adopted as a Son of God. When you read the penetrating practical works of Owen on the work of the Spirit and the nature of true communion with God it is hard to doubt the reality of what God did on this Sunday in 1642.

Indeed, two remarkable and similar stories of the conversions/assurance of these men who went on to do much for the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. Two interesting points can be made:

  1. Notice the sovereignty of God in both of these lives. Both were seeking another person's sermon, but God had other plans. For both men, as Piper says above, "it was God's appointed word and appointed time" for each one. Salvation is of the Lord. He will grant it in His time, place, and according to the preaching of His appointed Word. He had planned the weather and even the appointments of other men to put Spurgeon and Owen in the right place to hear his appointed Word.

  2. Next, we notice that both men were brought to this salvation through the preaching of men whose names we do not know today. Spurgeon says that all the preacher could do was continue repeating the his text and even called his stupid. The preacher to Owen was called a "simple" preacher and a "country" preacher. God choose the instrument on that appointed day and hour. It was perhaps not one they would have guested, but the one who had the appointed word for them.
What are we to make of this? God is sovereign. He will bring His people to Himself again in His time and place according to His Word. He will also use those which the world may call foolish (1 Corinthians 1:27). Our times are in His hand, whether we believe it or not. We should also realize that even when we feel we have blown it in witnessing to others, God can take that faithfulness and save sinners. This does not give us an excuse for not giving the Gospel rightly, but in our failures and weaknesses in sharing at times, it shows once again that salvation is of the Lord. May we even be called stupid if God will use us in the salvation of sinners. If you are a believer, think about all the things God did in your entire before-Christian life to put you in that appointed time and place under the appointed preaching of His Word where He saved you and give thanks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Counsel of the Lord

In Joshua 9, we read the account of the deception of Israel by the Gibeonites. Since they feared the Israelites, they sought to deceive them by dressing in worn out clothes and sandals, riding on worn out donkeys and carrying worn out wine skins and dry bread in order to show Joshua and the others that they had come from a far land. They did this in order to trick Joshua into a covenant with them to become the servants of Israel therefore sparing their lives (Joshua 9:3-6).

Well, the trick worked and Israel and Joshua made peace with them not realizing that the Gibeonites were really their neighbors living in the land God had promised to the Israelites (Joshua 9:15-16). Why and how did Joshua and the people fall for this deception. Joshua 9:14 gives us the quick and to the point answer:
So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. (NASB)
The people had failed to ask the Lord for counsel. That is why they were deceived by the lies and flattery of the Gibeonites. Isn't that the way it is today with respect to the truth of God's Word. Those who would seek to deceive us do not usually come straight out and say "I am trying to deceive you." Instead, they deceive us by slight modifications of the truth so much that it looks harmless to us. But we let it happen in the same way that the Israelites did; we do not seek the counsel of the Lord which is now given to us in His Word. When we fail to make use of God's Word by reading it, studying it, learning it, memorizing it, knowing it, and living it, we leave ourselves open to this type of deception. And when I say God's Word, I mean all of it, every book, not just the verses we like. We must judge everything through the glasses of Scripture or we too will be deceived.

Why did this people think that they did not need to seek the counsel of the Lord especially after their many failures to that point? D. A. Carson writes concerning this question:

The problem is deeper; there is an unseemly negligence that betrays an overconfidence that does not think it needs God in this case. Many a Christian leader has made disastrous mistakes when he or she has not taken time to seek God's perspective, probing Scripture and asking him for the wisdom he has promised to give (James 1:5).

So how should we react when confronted when those outside and even those in our own midst seek to draw us away to following their new interpretation, perspective or activity (Acts 20:28-30)? We should seek the counsel of the Lord, just as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11 by "examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so" (NASB). God has promised to generously give wisdom to those who will ask (James 1:5). Let us seek His counsel, let us ask for wisdom and let us treat His Word as more precious than gold in our pursing the truth from God Himself found in it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Oh - Deliver Me From This Muck-Rake!

After a while, because Supper was not ready, the Interpreter took them into his significant Rooms, and showed them what Christian, Christiana's Husband, had seen some time before. Here therefore they saw the Man in the Cage, the Man and his Dream, the Man that cut his way through his Enemies, and the picture of the greatest of them all, together with the rest of those things that were then so profitable to Christian.

This done, after these things had been somewhat digested by Christiana and her company, the Interpreter takes them apart again, and has them first into a room where was a Man that could look no way but downwards, with a muck-rake in his hand. There stood also one over his head with a Celestial Crown in his hand, and proffered him that Crown for his Muck-rake; but the man did neither look up, nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and dust of the floor.

Then said Christiana, I persuade myself that I know somewhat the meaning of this; for this is a figure of a Man of this World, is it not, good Sir?

INTER. Thou hast said the right, said he, and his Muck-rake doth show his carnal mind. And whereas thou seest him rather give heed to rake up straws and sticks and the dust of the floor, than to what he says that calls to him from above with the Celestial Crown in his hand, it is to show that Heaven is but as a fable to some, and that things here are counted the only things substantial. Now whereas it was also showed thee, that the man could look no way but downwards, it is to let thee know that earthly things, when they are with power upon men's minds, quite carry their hearts away from God.

Then said Christiana, Oh, deliver me from this Muck-rake!

That prayer, said the Interpreter, has lain by till it is almost rusty. "Give me not Riches," is scarce the prayer of one of ten thousand. Straws and sticks and dust, with most are the great things now looked after.

With that Mercy and Christiana wept, and said, It is alas! too true.

Friday, July 4, 2008

His Love Endures Forever

In Psalm 136, this phrase is repeated in every verse, which is a total of 26 times:

For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (NASB)

for his steadfast love endures forever (ESV)

Have you ever seen in movies, or worse, have you ever known anyone personally who comes to a point where they tell their spouse that they don't love them anymore? What is it that makes one's love for another fade? Perhaps some of these don't even have in mind the right definition of love. They have given other emotional or physical feelings the title of love. Whatever the reason, we humans are sinners and this act of "falling out of love" occurs often.

But look at this phrase found in every verse of this Psalm. God's love endures forever, it is everlasting, it has no end! No matter how we fail Him in our sin, if we are true believers, His love for us continues. We can do nothing that would cause Him to cease loving us. That is a glorious promise and truth of the Bible. This is not a licence to sin, but a great comfort during those times when we truly have blown it and acted in unbelief and disobedience. We are secure in God's love.

Luther in a letter to Melanchthon wrote the following:

If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but
the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2 Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.

Luther's comments about "let your sins be strong" has given some difficulty in this letter. I thing Luther is just saying that Melanchthon should be strong to confess his sin before the Lord. Many play games with words and are not bold in calling sin what it is. Only those who quit relying on their righteousness and trust in Christ's righteousness and substitutionary death can know that they are secure in God's mercy and love. A love that is everlasting. So be bold in admitting your sin so that your trust in Christ's work for you will be strong. No sin can separate us from His love. Even as the apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 8:38-39:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NASB)