Foundations: Dare to Be Lutheran!
By George F. Borghardt
Dare to be Lutheran. It's been our motto at Higher Things from the very beginning. We even trademarked it! We dare you to be Lutheran, to live Lutheran, to grow up Lutheran, and continue to BE Lutheran.
But isn't that arrogant? Isn't that closed-minded? Shouldn't you be daring youth to be Christians? Isn't that good enough? Do you seriously think that Lutherans are the only ones who are right? Don't you think that this just feeds more of that "only Lutherans go to heaven" stereotype?
A Lutheran is a Christian who believes that Jesus alone saves by grace alone, received by faith alone. We know this from Scripture alone. It's as certain as 2+2=4. No one was ever called arrogant or closed-minded for believing that 2+2=4. It's not 5. It's not 3. Those other answers are wrong.
It's not arrogant for Lutherans to believe we're right either. It's absolutely true that Jesus alone saves. He alone is right. Oh, we aren't the only people who are right. The Gospel has a way of slipping through in places you wouldn't expect! And we should never say we are right simply because we are Lutherans or that we are right in and of ourselves. We are right by Jesus alone, by grace alone, according to Scripture alone. We confess this Gospel only by the working of the Holy Spirit in us. We don't make ourselves right. We certainly don't deserve to be right. We are Lutherans by grace alone.
"Daring to be just a Christian" can't be enough because so much of Christianity today is filled with all sorts of things that aren't really Christian at all. It's evangelicalism. It's filled with grace-talk that is followed immediately by works-talk. They say contradictory stuff like, "Jesus saves you by grace alone, all you have to do is this, that, and the other thing. And once you're saved, Jesus expects you to change, to be better, to make your salvation sure or maybe you weren't really truly Christian in the first place after all."
That's not daring to be Lutheran! That's daring to be the same old sinner you were the day you were conceived, living out your inborn, self-made religion--that's the religion that believes what you do and don't do will put you in God's good graces and make Him like you. That's no dare at all.
Jesus lived His life for you. Jesus died the death you deserve on the Cross. He now lives, and true Life is found only in Him. What you do doesn't save you--all it can do is damn you. But He was damned for you so that in Him, you will never see hell. So dare to be different. Dare to be Lutheran.
Not every Lutheran is the same, either. There is an alphabet soup of Lutheranism out there--some of which you need to dare NOT to be. If it looks like generic Christianity, worships like generic Christianity, is centered on you and not on Jesus crucified for you, it's not Lutheran.
What kind of Lutheran do I need to dare to be? The Christ's-Cross-alone, received-by-faith-alone from-Scripture-alone kind of Lutheran, of course! The-Lord-be-with-you and with-thy-Spirit kind. The Holy-Baptism-saves kind. The Lord's-Supper-gives-me-Jesus'-True-Body-and-True-Blood kind. The my-pastor-forgives-my-sins kind. The Bible-is-the-authoritative-Word-of-God kind of Lutheran. Dare to be THAT kind of Lutheran.
So why is this important? I've not always been Lutheran. I grew up Roman Catholic. The Lord converted me my freshman year of college. I had always heard what I had to do to be saved. . . maybe. Only in the Lutheran church did I hear that Christ saves totally by grace alone--start to finish. It changed my life.
I'm mostly grown up now. I have three kids. I don't want them to go on the same journey I went on. I want them to grow up Lutheran. I want them to believe what we believe and to receive the comfort and peace that comes only from the pure Gospel. I want them to receive the Sacrament with me. It's important to me; it's a matter of life and death. I'll bet it's important to your parents, too.
For, if you are a Lutheran, why would you want to be anything else? If the Gospel has become clear to you that salvation and heaven and faith and life are all about Jesus' Cross alone without any merit or worthiness in you, why would you want to trade that for anything else? Why would you want to be anything else?
Dare to confess that Jesus alone saves you. Dare to believe that His salvation is by grace alone, not by what you do or don't do. Dare to confess that Jesus is received by faith alone. Dare to base your faith only from Scripture alone. Dare to be Lutheran!
This article was originally published in the fall 2014 issue of Higher Things Magazine.
Rev. George F. Borghardt is the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bossier City, Louisiana and serves as the president of Higher Things.
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